By Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley
On May 15, a perfect spring day, about 30 people gathered in the council chambers at Boca Raton City Hall to learn what properties were the recipients of the annual Landscape Excellence Awards.
Presented by the Boca Raton beautification committee, which is celebrating its 30th year, the awards were given for landscaping visible from the street that is properly maintained and increases the tree canopy.
The committee hopes that this recognition will encourage city businesses, churches, homeowners associations and schools to improve their landscaping and beautify Boca.
Mayor Susan Whelchel commended the committee for its “tremendous work with few financial resources.”
During the year, the 12 volunteers keep their eyes open as they drive around the city. If they see landscaping they think might be worthy of an award, committee member Richard Randall takes photos, which the group then discusses at its semimonthly meetings.
There are 11 categories, including automotive services and hotel/motel landscaping. But the awards were only given if a suitable recipient is found.
“You can’t just plant a palm and a shrub and expect to win,” says awards chairman Barbara Benefield.
In fact, this year there were winners in only six categories. “It’s been a tough year for people because with the economy, they just aren’t spending their time and money on landscaping,” says Benefield.
But it doesn’t seem to matter to attendees who show their appreciation for the winners as well as for a light buffet luncheon provided by Lang Realty and Lang Management served after the awards ceremony.
-- Northern Trust Bank (Large Commercial), 3100 N. Military Trail: The committee noted that this is an excellent example of using the right trees in the right places as they add to the city’s canopy. The tree selections include a royal poinciana and Canary Island date palms.
-- StitchCraft (Small Commercial), 399 S. Federal Highway: On a busy street corner, this oasis is created with trees for depth and carefully layered shrubs. The building that houses this shop has been in the Felberbaum family for two generations. “We think of it as family and we treat it as such,” says owner Rick Felberbaum. He says he selected the trees and shrubs but admits with a smile that he didn’t do the planting.
-- 200 East (Mixed Use), 220 E. Palmetto Park Road: A bright silver, 5-foot-high traffic control box at the entrance to the building created an eyesore. So it was covered with leafy contact paper to blend in with the stately royal palms as well as the understory, and to help make the scale of this high rise feel manageable to people passing.
-- Multi Image Group (Industrial), 1701 Clint Moore Road: The property is shaded with mature live oaks and ligustrum that offer a break from the Florida sun. Owner Arlene Sclafani takes great pride that the trees are properly trimmed. Her husband, Jim Sclafani, credits the award to Arlene’s green thumb.
-- Sea Ranch Club of Boca (High Density Residential Multi Family), 4001-4501 N. Ocean Blvd.: The landscaping at this residence set on 38 acres is designed to be turtle friendly and co-exist with the wind, sun, sand and sea. Johann Leigh, accepting the award for the condominium, said this is the second beautification award for this property.
-- Santa Barbara (Low-Density Residential Gated), just north of Glades Road on the east side of Jog/Powerline Road: This is the second award for this community that continues to maintain its trees and shrubs thanks to a team of volunteers. They include board member Don Lamm, who designed the landscape and put in more than 1,000 volunteer hours selecting and planting “every tree and shrub.”