French city sets example for a flowering MI Town Center

Take time to smell the flowers. We don’t mean to spend more time with your family and less time at work — although that’s a great idea. We want you to smell the flowers, literally.

  • Tuesday, September 9, 2008 8:08pm
  • News

Jane Meyer Brahm
Island Forum

Take time to smell the flowers. We don’t mean to spend more time with your family and less time at work — although that’s a great idea. We want you to smell the flowers, literally.

They’ll be blooming soon in pots in front of shops and businesses around downtown Mercer Island — presuming that we’ll get some sunshine and warm weather soon.

Thirty pots have been planted by Island business owners as part of the “Color MI Beautiful” project co-sponsored by the Mercer Island Arts Council, the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce and the Mercer Island Sister City Association.

The pots were provided to the businesses by a grant from the Mercer Island Arts Council. The organization and logistics were provided by the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce. The dirt and delivery labor were provided by the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department and the inspiration was provided by Thonon les Bains, France, Mercer Island’s sister city.

Participating Island merchants chose the blossoms and planted the pots. Their creativity and ingenuity — not to mention the size and beauty of their flowers — will be rewarded when judges evaluate their work at Summer Celebration.

The judges are: Bill Rodgers from the Chamber of Commerce; Sue Sherwood from the Mercer Island Sister City Association; Kevin Curry from the Mercer Island Arts Council; Joel Wachs, community representative; and Mayor Jim Pearman.

Prizes will be offered in four categories: Edible Flowers and Herbs; Simply Sustainable; Beaucoup Bouquet; and Creative & Colorful. There will also be a “People’s Choice” award.

The idea of a community flower project blossomed as a result of the official delegation trip to Mercer Island’s sister city, Thonon les Bains, France, last August.

The 17 Islanders who went to Thonon enjoyed a wonderful trip — and they were all amazed by all the flowers in the town.

Everywhere you looked, there were dazzling floral displays: 15-foot cascades of petunias in the middle of a roundabout planted with numerous flowers; big floral plantings that spelled out “Thonon les Bains”; block after block of window boxes cascading with ivy-leafed geraniums. It is no wonder that Thonon les Bains is a “four-flower city” among the “Villes et Villages Fleuris de France.”

This national competition began in France in 1959 to encourage towns to enhance their parks, gardens, buildings and public spaces with flowers. Towns are rated from one flower to four flowers, with four being the highest. Today, more than 12,000 towns and cities in France participate. To be a four-flower city is a very big deal ­— the French take their food and their flowers seriously.

We hope it will continue and grow in years to come, to help foster pride in our downtown. We want to thank the people who have worked on the project — there are too many to name here, but they know who they are.

We encourage everyone to come downtown and check out the Color MI Beautiful pots. Don’t forget to thank the merchant or shopkeeper for adding some floral beauty to the community. And don’t forget to smell the flowers.

Jane Meyer-Brahm and Sue Sherwood are with the Sister City Association. Terry Moreman is the chair of the Island’s Chamber of Commerce and Helen Martin is a member of the Senior Commission.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Pair of school levy renewals are on the special election ballot

Renewals need a simple majority to pass in Feb. 8 election.

Community conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion set for Feb. 2

The Mercer Island High School Black Student Union will present the community… Continue reading

‘It makes you feel that you’re making a difference’

Islanders volunteer with tiny house project to help the homeless in Seattle.

Search process begins for new school district superintendent

Colosky will retire at the end of this school year.

File photo
County auditor finds agencies fall short on emergency services

The auditor’s office recommends clarifying responsibilities and accountability for effective planning.

Reed will discuss Imagine Housing at Rotary meeting on Jan. 18

Angel Reed, volunteer and administration coordinator for Imagine Housing, will discuss the… Continue reading

School district to offer Zoom kindergarten information nights

Events will take place from 6-7 p.m. on Jan. 25.

During a news conference Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee explains the deployment of the National Guard to hospitals to assist with the coronavirus surge. (TVW) 20220113
Surgeries paused, National Guard deployed to assist hospitals

King County health officials say 1 in 7 ICU and acute-care hospital beds are occupied by a COVID patient.

Most Read