Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Blossoming Partnership Grows Beautifully

Monrovia team ready to plant at the West Granby Habitat for Humanity house.

On a cool November 3, 2016 morning, a tractor trailer, emblazoned with the Monrovia logo, arrived promptly at 9:00 a.m. It was loaded with fresh, locally grown stock from its Granby, CT nursery ready for planting at the new Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity home in West Granby, CT. With tools in hand, a skilled Monrovia team led by Mark Hixson and Jess McCue descended on the site to dig, plant, mulch and water an expertly selected variety of plants, shrubberies, and trees in an artfully designed plan; the  perfect finishing touch to the home being readied for its new owners. With the plantings completed by noon, the seeds for a perennial partnership had been sown.

The Habitat-Monrovia partnership germinated when Mark, Monrovia's East Coast Inside Sales Coach, contacted me after reading about our Granby build on a flyer that I posted widely throughout town. Mark said Monrovia would be keen on donating plants to the local endeavor. It would even include Monrovia's design team's expertise led by Jess. The results speak for themselves. Since the Granby home, Monrovia has helped beautify twelve more Hartford Habitat homes, the latest being in 2018 on East Hartford's Bliss Street and Moore Avenue this past June.

Headquartered in Azusa, California, Monrovia Plant Company is a national nursery whose trademark is Grow Beautifully®. "Since 1926, Monrovia has been the nation’s leading premium consumer plant brand, led by a passion for growing the healthiest plants to enhance the beauty of American landscapes." Monrovia has four growing operations: California, Georgia, Oregon and Connecticut covering the four corners of the United States.

Habitat for Humanity has always emphasized the need for its homes to compliment the architectural styles and needs of the neighborhoods and communities in which it builds. House designs are adapted to ensure they support a city's long-term vision and plan of development. One aspect of that design is best described as "curb appeal," which not only considers what the house looks like, but also how it sits on its property and the landscape around it. For Hartford Habitat, Monrovia's willingness to partner is proving strategic. It's an essential element for elevating the profile of what affordable housing really is, and what it can do for a community. Not only does Hartford Habitat build new homes to create home ownership opportunities, it also rehabilitates homes in disrepair. This is especially critical as Habitat looks to work with the City of Hartford's Blight Remediation Team to eliminate blight and return properties to productive use. It's all part of Hartford Habitat's commitment to Habitat for Humanity International's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

The following series of photographs and captions are representative of Monrovia's commitment to Habitat and the greater Hartford community. As Habitat Executive Director Karraine Moody explains, "It's a blessing to have Monrovia on board as a generous partner dedicated to improving the lives of others by sharing the natural beauty of the world that grows around us."

Monrovia's first endeavor in West Granby village was also Hartford Habitat's first rural build; a build much welcomed by Granby townspeople.

Team Monrovia busy planting a pine barrier along West Granby Road,
along with a Birch tree and Lilacs bordering the driveway entrance.

Planting Hydrangeas, Hostas, Day Lilies, and
Carex along the foundation and front walk.

Mark Hixson explains to homeowners Jaime and Ralph Wyman the plant varieties
Monrovia provided, as well as instructions on how best to care for them. 

Next it was on to Main Street in Hartford on June 14, 2017, site of three single family Habitat homes nearing completion, where Monrovia teamed up with Hartford's Capital City YouthBuild to plant shrubberies, perennials, and ornamental trees around each home. 

Monrovia's tractor trailer arriving with plants for
three Habitat homes at 2636, 2644, and 2650 Main Street in Hartford

Moving plants into place takes some muscle.

Karraine Moody (left), Habitat Executive Director, and
Tracy Thomas, Habitat Family Services Director, set
plants in place along the front porch.

Jess McCue and Hartford YouthBuild leader Frank Mangiagli
were thrilled with the results of the collaboration.
Two YouthBuild team members were still
all smiles after a hot day's work.

On October 19 2017, Monrovia arrived on Hartford's South Marshall Street to landscape the three soon to be completed duplexes. 

Monrovia, with the assistance of Eversource volunteers, landscaped the
South Marshall Street duplexes in half a day!

The results are spectacular!

The curb appeal of Habitat's three new duplexes at
161/163, 171/173 and 181/183 South Marshall Street was
greatly enhanced by Monrovia's landscaping

Most recently, Monrovia landscaped new homes at 66 Bliss Street and 9 Moore Avenue in East Hartford. Again, the results are excellent! As Construction Director Kris McKelvie noted, "People have been slowing down as they drive by to compliment the gorgeous gardens." And later this summer, Monrovia plans to plant similar gardens at the new Habitat homes under construction at 35 and 37 Armistice Street in New Britain.

66 Bliss Street, East Hartford.
The garden is thriving as the lawn begins to sprout.

As of the end of 2018, Monrovia's team will have assisted on fifteen Habitat homes since November 2016, which includes the specialty walkway entrance plantings at a rehabilitated home on Hartford's Roosevelt Street. Monrovia's generosity is making a visible difference in the lives of Habitat families, and the neighborhoods where they live. By working together Habitat and Monrovia have grown a blossoming partnership.  Long may it bloom!

Don Shaw, Jr.
Writer and Editor

Photos by Don Shaw, Jr.

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