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Digging in the dirt to beautify Duluth

Tim Valentine of Lakewood watches as his daughter, Finley, examines the flower of a nicotiana as she prepares to determine if it has a scent.(Photo by Naomi Yaeger)2 / 4
Harbor City International School foreign exchange student Chingun Byambajav of Mongolia chooses petunias to plant into a container. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)3 / 4
About 40 volunteers gathered at Bayfront Park to transplant seedlings into city containers. The containers will be moved to locations throughout downtown Duluth. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)4 / 4

Under a Wednesday morning gray sky which teased of rain, Duluth park maintenance employee Robert Dunsmore supervised a group of volunteers at Bayfront Park as they dug in the dirt to fill large containers with flowers. The flowers will be located throughout downtown and Canal Park. The Greater Downtown Council coordinated the event.

About 60 people ranging from preschoolers to grandparents showed up to help. Jenny Ahern usually is indoors teaching math to Harbor City International School students. But that day she led a special symposium.

Tim Valentine and his daughter, Finley Valentine, age 3, quietly worked together at a container near the edge of the group. Tim said that Finley's older brother helped at the Rose Garden. "We were exploring volunteer opportunities and it was outside," Tim said.

Seedlings of vines and florals transplanted into the containers included canna, dianthus, lobelia, assorted vines, assorted petunias, nicotiana, salvia and dusty miller.

"You can't plan something wimpy in Duluth," Dunsmore said. "We choose for height, foliage, color and hardiness."

As the containers are being filled with plants it is not known if the container will be placed in a sunny or shady spot, so the variety of plants ensures that something will bloom where it is planted.

Some 137 planters had been moved to Bayfront before the winter. After Wednesday's planting they will be placed throughout downtown and Canal Park.

Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at