By Dan Murphy
Charlestown’s Kolea Zimmerman was the only neighborhood resident to receive recognition in Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s 2019 Garden Contest, taking third place in the category for Porch, Balcony or Container gardens.
“I was very surprised to be the sole winner from Charlestown, and I was thrilled to represent our neighborhood,” Zimmerman wrote. “There isn’t much space for gardening in Charlestown because of the housing density, but many of our neighbors create beautiful gardens using window boxes, containers or sidewalk flowerbeds. When my wife and I moved Charlestown two years ago, it was evident that people took pride in their neighborhood.”
Zimmerman cites his 18-month-old daughter, who he said “loves the outdoors, especially birds, butterflies and ladybugs,” as his inspiration for the garden. He even planted a low container with ferns and succulents there, surrounded by a fairy house, where he said his daughter “loves to play…and water the ferns with her own watering can.”
Sweet smelling herbs, such as basil, fill a vertical garden for Zimmerman’s daughter to pick and taste while brightly colored coleus, hydrangeas and begonias attract the butterflies that she loves. And to remind Zimmerman of his upbringing in Hawaii, he has also planted a climbing passion flower vine.
“My wife and I both work long hours, so I’ve installed a drip-irrigation system on a timer that automatically waters all the different planters,” Zimmerman wrote. “I look forward to many more afternoons gardening with my daughter and watching for butterflies.”
Michele Topor of the North End in first place and Joseph Falinski of Dorchester in second were the other winners in the Porch, Balcony or Container garden category.
Other first-place winners in their respective categories included Dominique Hurley of East Boston for Small Yard garden; Megan Fox of Jamaica Plain for Medium Yard garden; Daryl Johnson and Rick Smith of Dorchester for Large Yard garden; Kristen Mobilia of the Fenway for Vegetable or Herb garden; Miguel Rosales of Beacon Hill for Shade garden; Cheryl Crawford of Roslindale for Senior Yard garden; Recreo Coffee & Roasterie of West Roxbury for Storefront, Organization or Main Street District garden; and John Ruiz of the Fenway for Community garden.
The 2020 Hall of Fame inductees were Carmen Musto; Johnson and Smith; Rick Kuethe; Mobia; and Torpor.
While congratulating Zimmerman and this year’s other winners during an Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Suffolk Law School, Mayor Walsh described the Garden Contest as “honestly, my favorite event of the year,” adding that it has inspired him to take up gardening at home.
“Many of you put your hearts and souls into your gardens, and that’s something I want to recognize,” he said.
Walsh also said a public park is at most a 10-minute walk from anywhere in the city – a feat he credits to the hard work of the Boston Parks Department.
Walsh paid tribute to Norbert Strissel, JetBlue’s erstwhile chief of operations who died last year.
“He attended this Awards Ceremony every year and donated round-trip tickets,” Walsh said. “This was kind of his marquee
Besides JetBlue, which provided the grand-prize pro bono, Mahoney’s Garden Centers, Boston Flower & Garden Show, Polar Beverages, ICA Boston and the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture also donated prize packages for this year’s competition.
Chris Cook, the city’s chief of environment, energy and open space, told contest winners: “We’re really impressed with how you’re making Boston beautiful, one garden at a time. These spaces you’ve created…provide a respite for nature because nature takes care of us.”
Cook also said the city would undertake a complete study to better understand its tree canopy later this summer.
Meanwhile, Ryan Woods, commissioner of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, presided over the ceremony’s award presentation.