OFFBEAT: Purdue Cal garden contest winners know flower power

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-18T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Purdue Cal garden contest winners know flower powerBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Purdue University Calumet Director of Intramurals Matt Dudzik devised a new contest for students and staff this year to serve the purpose of not only "growing" some friendly competition, but also a bonus to help beautify the Hammond campus.

"We've been doing a gardening competition during this summer at Purdue University Calumet for an assortment of design and foliage possibilities," Matt said.

"The gardens are planted and ready to be seen, and despite the heat, the judging was this week."

This intramural gardening contest included eight teams, resulting in eight gardens, all  planted in front of the Fitness and Recreation Building on campus just off of 173rd St.

Each team was given $40 vouchers to Zandstra's Garden Center to buy any plants or flowers they chose, but without going over budget. They were each given a designated plot to plant their designed gardens, which included the shade of trees in the landscape.

Matt asked me to be part of his trio of judges, which included Purdue Calumet Grounds Supervisor John Bachmann and Purdue Calumet Special Projects Administrator Leticia Toma. Our judging criteria included appearance, use of space and creativity.

"We've received a lot of positive feedback from the students, employees and members who enter our building on how well the garden spruced up the front of the entrance way," said Matt, who asked me to remind readers the gardens are also open for the public to view.

"Teams were allowed to use a planter or trellis in their garden. But we had one team use knick knacks [ceramic, glittery skulls] which were not allowed. They said they included them in their garden to use as planters and a trellis, but since the plants didn't incorporate with these objects, the garden was judged only on their flowers."

As for the winning garden, it was Garden #3, and is included in the photo published here. It includes a large concrete urn, surrounded by Pink Spider Flower aka Grevillea speciosa and highlighting pink petunias, New Guinea impatiens and assorted coleus plants. After the judges scores were added up, it was a very close call, with this garden winning by just two points.

The winning gardeners for this Garden #3 are Dr. Zenobia Baxter Mistri, associate professor of English, who hails from Crete and Dr. Karen Bishop Morris, associate professor of English from Hammond.

Thank you to all the participants and a congrats to the the winning team.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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