Flower secrets revealed

Terry Cole waters his flowers that brighten Main Street in Rushville.

It is said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but anyone who beholds the flower garden at 10th and Main can’t help but admire the beauty. Now there are many lovely gardens in Rush County, but I have to admit that I purposefully drive down Main Street when crossing town just to slow down and marvel at the numerous and huge petunia pots in the front yard. I walk my dog by the house to get a closer view and wonder how the gardener accomplishes such a feat. Would he or she reveal the secrets? I had to find out and approached the gentleman while he was watering one evening. Terry Cole, designer and tender of the garden, was eager to explain and answer all my questions.

My first question was how long he’s been creating his garden – five years. Next I asked why, and Terry explained that it’s pretty simple, “I like flowers, and I like everyone to enjoy them with me. I want to beautify the community. It makes people smile and changes their mood. It makes people happy.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Finally, my biggest question, and I’m sure for many other people, I wanted to know how. How does he do it? How does he persuade ordinary petunias to thrive into seemingly endless cascades of stunning blooms?! To my delight, he was happy to describe the process.

First, when bringing home a basket of petunias, Terry immediately moves the plant to a larger basket – at least 14” – 16”.

“You see, already-made hanging baskets are only intended to last a month. Then the gardener gets discouraged and goes and buys another. That’s because the plant becomes root bound, when water just pours through the basket.”

A larger pot is key. When using a basket with a coco liner, open up a trash bag, cut it to fit into the coco liner, and cut an X in the bottom for drainage.

“Without it, the wind dries out the soil.”

Terry feeds the flowers every week. One week he uses Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant food, and the following week he uses Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster.

“The All Purpose food is high in nitrogen and it makes the plants grow big, but the Bloom Booster has phosphate which makes the flowers pop,” Terry said.

Terry prunes his plants 2 – 3 times a summer… “whenever they’re starting to get leggy. The more you prune them, the thicker they’ll be. It won’t hurt them. It’s just like cutting your hair.”

Also, the pots need to be continually watered “…even when there’s been a storm because the leaves bounce off a lot of the water.”

He spends 1 ½ - 2 hours watering every evening. Terry recommends the Wave and Proven Winner petunias because they don’t need to be deadheaded, but in his experience, the Proven Winners get bigger. Unfortunately one of his plants was stolen this year, but that won’t deter him. Next year he said he’ll lock them or put up a fence. Terry currently has “How To” videos on Facebook and promises a Start to Finish instructional video next year.

I thanked Terry for his advice and for beautifying our community. Several times during our conversation Terry cautioned, “Now, I’m no expert.” I believe many would disagree.