Businesses have begun to recognize the intrinsic value a beautifully landscaped site has to offer. Not only does spending a little green create a big, colorful impact, it shows that the establishment is making a long-term commitment to the community.
The Douglas County Master Gardeners began giving awards in 2004 to spotlight these jewels sparkling brightly in the business world. This year the nine sites honored run the gamut from an expansive living community that fosters a pedestrian lifestyle to a petite centuries-old building tucked on a tiny lot and a national chain restaurant that brightens up a bustling corner.
Paulette Teague, member of the management team for Hutton Farms, says they're proud to be a recipient of the Community Landscape Award.
"We feel curb appeal is a big part of running and operating a successful business. It shows that we care about the property and enjoy what we do," she says. "It is very rewarding to drive by or walk through a property and enjoy the landscaping, plus the show gets better and better as the plants mature."
And as I stroll through Hutton Farms and meander around the large lake with a fountain spewing diamond droplets of water shimmering in the sunlight, or pass a gorgeous berm created of large boulders and stunning flora, I see why it deserves to be recognized as "builder grade" landscaping.
"Landscaping enhances the community and shines a positive light on how Lawrence, Kansas, is viewed," Teague says. "People really do notice businesses that care for their properties."
Banking on beauty
Award recipient Douglas County Bank has a plethora of locations amid the Lawrence thoroughfares, and each one is individually landscaped to perfection. I have often wondered whether they use scissors to cut the lawn. The bevy of flowerbeds pop out of the four-lane hardscapes that surround each branch, and they bring softness to what could be a cold-edged, unwelcoming corner. In a world where banks change hands as often as some people change their undergarments, it is a beacon to see the name alone, a statement that if you bank here, your money stays in Lawrence.
Pat Slabaugh, Douglas County Bank executive vice president, agrees.
"I am proud of all our locations and the landscaping direction we have taken over the years. We have tried to send a favorable message that Douglas County Bank is here for the long term. The bank and ownership (Ross and Marianna Beach) have made a strong commitment in our community with brick and mortar, and we feel the landscaping goes along with that commitment.
"Also, we feel the landscaping helps identify our locations as community landmarks."
Heads above the rest
Tucked on Vermont Street sits Headmasters, a longtime beauty mecca in Lawrence and an award recipient. In fact, I spent an occasional summer sweeping the hairy floors for the previous owner and a neighbor of mine a few decades ago. It is an old structure with stone walls, a once-scary basement, and if the walls could talk, they would have a thousand stories to tell. (Although since it is a hair salon, make that a hundred thousand stories to tell.) Such a stately building cries out for window dressing to accentuate the architectural prowess it possesses with little details and decorative aspects that are impossible to find in modern construction.
Jim Grimes, owner of Headmasters, has achieved this icing on the building through a magically landscaped haven that wraps around the building like a supple, downy blanket.
"Gardens soften the harshness of our fast-paced life," he says. "They are reminders to 'stop and smell the roses.'"
With the assistance of Sue McClacherty, the two have weeded, watered, planned, dug, prepared, fed and coddled every last perennial in this lovely, colorful garden.
The garden also is a textbook for learning about the Aveda products the salon sells, such as lavender, echinacea and aloe.
"One of my greatest joys in life is sharing the process, the beauty, sights and smells of nature," Grimes says, "and if it entices shoppers to stop in and peruse, all the better."
Community Awards Recipients 2006
Douglas County Bank, 3101 Iowa
Kennedy Glass, 730 N.J.
Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway
Tuckaway Management, 2600 W. Sixth St.
Free State Business Center, 963 N. 1950 Road
First Management corporate office, 601 N. Iowa
Hutton Farms, 3401 Hutton Drive
Headmasters , 809 Vt.
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, 3080 Iowa