Year-round, the Arroyo Grande Village is filled with a riot of flora: brightly colored flowers spill out of hanging baskets along the historic Bridge Street bridge, special fire-resistant plants decorate a garden next to the fire station while trees line the majority of the streets.
It’s for those reasons that Arroyo Grande was chosen to host the 2016 America in Bloom symposium — marking the first time a city west of the Mississippi River, as well as the first time a city of its smaller size, has been chosen to host the national event. Other symposium host cities have included Holland, Michigan; Philadelphia and Orlando, Florida.
It’s really quite a nice moment for us.
Bob Lund, Arroyo Grande in Bloom
Starting Thursday, roughly 178 representatives from across the country and their guests arrived in town to view the unique landscaping that makes up Arroyo Grande and to share ideas on the latest landscaping techniques, technologies and trends.
“It’s really quite a nice moment for us,” Arroyo Grande in Bloom coordinator Bob Lund said Friday. “So far, we’ve had a wonderful time.”
America in Bloom is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to “beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements,” according to its website.
Its local chapter, Arroyo Grande in Bloom, is involved year-round in beautification activities such as maintaining the flower baskets, planting trees and helping to form new parks, Lund said.
Symposium attendees sat in on panels from local experts on everything from the weather’s impact on the environment to the benefit of landscaping in communities. They also toured neighboring areas like Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, Point San Luis and the Cal Poly arboretum.
“They’ve been ecstatic,” Lund said of the representatives he’s talked with from outside California. “They love California and are really just enjoying being here.”
Besides the rosy glow of being chosen as the host city, Arroyo Grande has garnered more bragging rights this weekend: It also won the event’s “Best Example of Water Wise Gardening” award and a “Five Blooms” recognition (the highest level of recognition a participating city can win).