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April showers may bring May flowers everywhere else in the country, but here on Marco Island – and especially this year – April is in the middle of the dry season, so residents have to work a little bit harder to make sure their yards are full of sturdy stems, pretty petals and, most importantly, Florida-friendly fauna; the Marco Island Beautification Advisory Committee is recognizing that hard work with its annual Marco in Bloom Landscape Awards.

Marco in Bloom honors individuals, businesses, organizations and neighborhoods “which make great efforts to beautify the Marco Island community.” The contest also places an emphasis on landscapes that include "Florida-friendly" plants, meaning drought tolerant.

"Marco in Bloom is an annual event where different properties are nominated for awards," said Maria Tobin, Beautification Advisory Committee member and co-chair of Marco in Bloom. "So anyone in this city who feels there's an outstanding landscape to this effect, they can be nominated."

Unfortunately, just like the rain, participation in the contest has been lacking, Tobin said.

“The participation hasn't been that great,” she said at the April 5th Beautification Advisory Committee meeting. "We got a report from Patty (Mastronardi of the Parks and Recreation Department) that entries ... have been scarce. Other than perhaps changing the rule that the different addresses can't be nominated," she said, referring to the fact that previous winners are not eligible to apply or be nominated within three years of winning, "I don't see how we could improve that participation."

But Chair Linda Colombo has hope that residents will pull through.

"Like everything else on Marco, it's last minute; I think Patty will probably be getting some in last minute," she said. "(And) we have some; not as many as usual, (but) we can't take care of everything. We just hope for the best."

There are five award categories: residential personally designed; residential professionally designed; commercial; condominium complexes; and cul-de-sacs.

The committee uses the following criteria to judge each entry: Florida-friendly landscaping (drought-tolerant plants); low water usage and minimum grass; use of color and contrasting plants; and creativity and yard art. Each property will be judged from street view only.

"If anyone feels their property of their neighbor's property meets these criteria and are outstanding landscape properties, we would be delighted to have them brought to our attention," Tobin said.

Nominations are due April 19. There will be a winner and a runner-up for each category, and each qualified participant will be recognized at the May 1 City Council meeting.

HOW TO NOMINATE A PROPERTY

Applications for Marco in Bloom are online at the city’s website: www.cityofmarcoisland.com.

Complete an application describing why the nominee should receive the award in 100 words or less, include one or two photographs (non-returnable) and drop it off or mail it to: Patty Mastronardi, Parks & Recreation c/o Marco in Bloom, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.

Applications may also be emailed to pmastronardi@cityofmarcoisland.com.

For more information, call Mastronardi at 239-389-5035.

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