Flower power 

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This week I returned from a glorious two-week vacation in Nicaragua, land of volcanoes and lakes and revolutionaries. The destruction from that country's horrific civil war of the 1970s and 1980s was still obvious, yet the flowers were stunning and the hammerhead sharks that I swam with magnificent.

I was reminded of Colorado Springs, where the city's civil war over political ideologies rages on, and the maneuvering of our local political sharks is at times awesome. As for lakes and flowers, thanks to the drought and the city's ongoing budget woes, I was expecting a springtime depression over our city's beauty drying up.

But then I learned that our very own mostly conservative City Council is engaged in a sort of revolutionary act. If you'll recall, as part of its $8.7 million in budget cuts last year, the council eliminated $90,726 that paid for our greenhouse and flower program that decorates 104 stunning gardens in medians and public areas around the city. So much for our claims of being a "World Class City" -- thanks largely to anti-tax zealot and local landlord Douglas Bruce and his efforts to reduce us to one giant pothole.

But lo and behold, City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher is planting some seeds of change. This week, the city will iron out the details, but essentially our leaders want to recruit businesses, service clubs, nonprofits, landscapers and anyone else who is willing to plant and maintain what would otherwise be bare patches of dirt, all over the city, all summer long. This adopt-a-garden plan includes cool competitions for the most stunning displays.

The flower children of City Council will get their hands dirty too. Ever competitive, they've already split themselves into teams and will maintain three gardens of their own directly outside City Hall. This image is so delicious that we've taken the opportunity to match up our leaders' obvious floral identities.

Team Wildflower

Mayor Lionel Rivera should be in charge of the narcissus, commonly known as the daffodil, which is resistant to deer, rodents and diseases.

Vice Mayor Richard Skorman would love the prairie gayfeather, which produces a spike of bright pink and lavender flowers and attracts butterflies.

Randy Purvis: His specialty is the poppy. It looks fragile but tolerates high winds and can be seen waving in the breeze.

Team Hybrid

Darryl Glenn: Like Glenn, who bench-presses 400 pounds, the snapdragon is one hardy cluster. It blooms all summer long if you remember to pinch its head off.

Jerry Heimlicher: The zinnia is strong and colorful. But watch out because this flower is allegedly local hardball Republican strategist Bob Gardner's favorite.

Larry Small: Morning glories are predictable, early-rising cheerful climbers. However, some species have taken a liking to "wet feet."

Team Mulch

Tom Gallagher: This man specializes in prickly pear cactus, which thrives in rock gardens.

Margaret Radford: The stoic wallflower tolerates salty soils but rots in winter if the ground is wet.

Scott Hente: A developer by trade, Hente would do wonders with the black-eyed Susan. They reseed themselves, and if you don't watch out they'll spread and take over.

Finally, there's no word yet on whether the aforementioned Bruce will be willing to participate in this commendable beautification project, which you can sign up for by calling Kim King at 385-6509.

In our humble opinion, Mr. Bruce should be required to plant his personally matched flower, the pansy, all over the city -- although in truth, he would probably prefer dandelions.


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