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Gardener spreads a flowering charm throughout village of Skaneateles

Gardener spreads a flowering charm throughout village of Skaneateles

Lake LIfe

Skaneateles senior Grant Bille waters the hanging flower baskets in downtown Skaneateles every night. It usually takes Bille around an hour to water all the flowers. Each basket gets one gallon of water to keep them healthy and alive. Katie Roupe / The Citizen

SKANEATELES — A stroll through the village on a bright summer day is full of sights and sounds. Scents of flowers carried on a breeze can make a simple walk into a sensory bonanza.

Mark Moncavage, owner of Sparrow Flowers & Gardens in Marcellus, designed the container gardens and topiary that flank the doors of the Community Bank and the Kinder Garden as well as First National Gifts at the intersection of Genesee and Jordan streets.

“You’re smelling the petunias,” he said. “They push more so in the evening and the salvia gives a little scent, too.”

Twice a week for the last seven years during the warm months, Moncavage has maintained the containers he’s designed along Genesee Street.

“The colors just sparkle there because of the charms of the village,” he said.

Each year he selects a unique flower or plant to add next to standards such as angelonia and portulaca.

“The hibiscus in front of First National is a tropical plant,” he said.  “Its braided trunk is a little bit different this year.”

Moncavage explains the sun’s exposure on his container designs has everything to do with which flowers he chooses to put in them.

Plants that thrive well in shade, such as the sweet-smelling fuchsia placed in front of First National Gifts, 2 E. Genesee St., he’ll plant in containers that receive a northern exposure, or little direct sunlight.

Likewise, Shirley Feldmann considers the flowers she selects for the 31 hanging baskets that sway in front of many village storefronts the same way.

She chooses sun-loving geraniums and white verbena, for instance, to populate the baskets receiving a southern exposure that hang along the north side of Genesee Street.

Since 1972, arranging the hanging baskets that grace the village is Feldmann’s happy duty.

“I like to garden because I think it’s relaxing,” the real estate broker said.

A member of the Skaneateles Garden Club, Feldmann was recently awarded a pin of appreciation by its membership for more than 50 years of dedication and service to the organization .

“The hanging baskets are my contribution to the garden club,” she said.

For 35 years, garden club members arranged and planted the hanging baskets in Feldmann’s backyard. During these planting sessions it would sometimes rain and the task of lugging baskets into her garage to avoid harsh weather proved too onerous.

“We needed a greenhouse,” Feldmann said.

 In 2007, Dickman Farms in Auburn took over the planting of the hanging baskets and keeps them in a greenhouse until they deliver them to the village Department of Public Works, which hangs the baskets each spring.

In 1971, the cost of putting flowers in the 11 baskets that hung around the village that year was $211.70. This year, the village will foot the bill to the tune of $1,495.

The village and garden club share the financial responsibility of paying a person to maintain and water the baskets seven days a week.

For the last three years Grant Bille has maintained the hanging baskets in and around the village daily, unless it rains, then he lets nature do the watering.

To keep out of the way of visitors to the village, the 18-year-old takes his watering cart and paraphernalia out in the evening, and says it takes a bit more than an hour to complete his task.

“It’s not so much a job as a chance to go out for a walk every night,” said the high school senior. “I get to stop and smell the flowers.”


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