Bothwell students help beautify south Marquette for Petunia Pandemonium

North Central UP

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – It was a beautiful day in south Marquette, with about 200 students from Bothwell Middle School who helped plant flowers along US-41.

The students were taking part in the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee’s 33rd annual Petunia Pandemonium.

“I think it’s an important lesson for a child to learn that no matter what age you are, you can be a part of your community and you can beautify it and other people can really appreciate it. And to learn at a really early age that you can make a difference,” said Barb Kelly, chairperson for Petunia Pandemonium.

Petunia Pandemonium has beautified Marquette’s gateway and garnered many awards including Keep Michigan Beautiful, Inc., MIDWEST LIVING MAGAZINE, and the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association. The committee is assisted by the city of Marquette with lane closures and a portion of the expense. 

The project lasts for five months and includes water which the committee buys, soil preparation, plants from Nagelkirk, mulch, weeding, fertilizing, and plant removal in October. All the grass from Furnace Street to the round-about area is mowed weekly and fertilized.  The committee participates in the Adopt-A-Highway program and controls litter for eight-tenths of a mile from Furnace Street to Father Marquette Park.   The committee also plants and maintains the garden at Father Marquette Park.  

“The flowers just send this glorious message about, you know, ‘We believe in our city and we take the time to make it as pretty as it possibly can be, and we’re very proud of our city.’ The flowers say that, they can’t talk but they have a strong language,’ said Kelly.

The Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee is still in need of volunteers for the continuation of Petunia Pandemonium.  The planting will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 5 on the west side of US-41 between Furnace Street and Genesee Street.  The lane closest to the planting bed will be closed and safety vests are available for all planters.  The flower beds have been prepared and the soil has been amended to nourish the thousands of colorful annuals which brighten the southern gateway to Marquette for five months.  Flowers will be placed on the flower beds and be ready for planting in the loose, healthy soil. 

Volunteers are encouraged to wear old clothes and shoes and bring a trowel for digging.  Sunscreen, hats, and gloves are recommended.  Safety vests will be handed out in front of McCabe’s Quality Flooring and extra trowels will be available at that site.  The planting takes approximately one hour. Planters have ranged in age from two to ninety-three.  Volunteers are advised to stay off the curb and out of the road and to work from the curb inward, facing the traffic.  The weather appears to be warm and bottled water will be available at McCabe’s.  The picnic will not be held this year and planters are welcome to wear masks if they wish, but they are not required.

In 2020 because of Covid, the Beautification Committee’s members planted Petunia Pandemonium themselves wearing masks.  They welcome this return to normalcy and community engagement again.  The committee was not able to hold any fund-raisers last year but will host their annual Garden Tour this summer.  Tax-deductible contributions supporting the committee’s efforts can be mailed to MBRC, P.O. Box 334, Marquette, MI 49855 or donate online at mqtbeautification.org

South Front Street between Furnace Street and the round-about will be redesigned next summer and there will be no flower planting.  The $80,000.00 irrigation system installed by the committee will be mostly destroyed and fund-raising efforts will be initiated to re-establish the necessary water to make the plants flourish. 

For further information please contact Barb Kelly, Petunia Pandemonium Chairperson, at 225-5077. 

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