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They love the smell of flora in the morning; Home gardeners win $10,000 contest prize.

Byline: Kristen Tomaiolo

SUTTON - It's hard to beat the smell of $10,000 worth of flowers and shrubs being delivered to your home early in the morning.

Brian and Elizabeth Bradley and Elizabeth's mother, Maria Klimkiewicz of Sutton, waited anxiously in their driveway Aug. 14 for their $10,000 extreme garden makeover. They won the prize in a raffle from Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton as part of its celebration of 85 years in business and a new direction.

With beautiful flower gardens surrounding the home, one would think this house would be featured on HGTV, rather than needing a remake. But on the right side of the house behind two crabapple trees was a 15-foot by 20-foot section of yard that needed a facelift.

"We've never had work done like this before. It gives us a little breather," said Ms. Bradley. "I feel like it's Christmas, getting all these presents."

A Weston Nurseries team of five workers and landscape designer Patti Featherstone arrived with five trucks filled with plants and equipment to start the day's long process. The team got to work tearing up the ground and tree stumps while Ms. Bradley and her mother watched and looked over the design Ms. Featherstone had drawn up.

The raffle was held June 21-23, and the winner was drawn June 24. There were hundreds of entries; the winner had to live within 35 miles of the nursery. According to Ms. Bradley, her mother didn't believe she had won until she called her in-laws with the good news.

"I started calling people right away," said Ms. Bradley. "I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off."

The Bradleys and Ms. Featherstone had discussed plans about a week after the good news. The plants had to be shade-loving and deer-resistant. According to Ms. Featherstone, she wanted to have a colorful combination of evergreen and deciduous plants so there would be something to look at each season. Some of the plants were grown at the nursery.

"We're trying to make it interesting and relaxing," said Ms. Featherstone. "We want to enhance what's already here and make it an inviting place."

According to Ms. Featherstone, the average person would buy these plants, not just someone with a $10,000 gift certificate. The shopping list included one Amelanchier, one Cornus mas, five Viburnum, three Cornus alba, five Hydrangea macrophylla, three Hydrangea quercifolia, five Leucothoe, three Clethra, 12 Heuchera, 12 Liriope, 12 Athyrium, one Vinca minor, three Microbiota, six Pieris japonica, one Betula nigra, three Chamaecyparis `Pendula,' nine Astilbe and six Hakonechloa.

Gifts also included an aluminum dining set with four seats, three custom-planted containers, premium pink bark mulch and soil additives.

But this makeover is only a small part of a bigger transformation of the nursery itself.

Weston Nurseries, known for its wide selection of plants, installation and landscape design, recently emerged from bankruptcy. Weston Nurseries, Mez-Ag, and Roger and Wayne Mezitt sold 709 acres to Boulder Capital, a real estate development firm. The town of Ashland has taken its Chapter 61A rights and purchased 33 acres of land from the company.

Gary Furst has stepped down as president of the business and is now chairman. Peter Mezzit, the company's general manager, is now president. Wayne Mezitt bought his brother Roger Mezitt's shares in the company, and is now the nursery's owner and treasurer. David Pearce is the chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

The nursery remained open during the restructuring of the business.

With a new direction, the nursery felt a landscape design and installation giveaway would be a good start, according to Jennifer Angell, Western Nurseries' marketing director.

"We thought it was a great way to give something back to our customers," said. Ms Angell.

At the end of the day, the team put stepping stones that lead to the back of the garden, where the Bradleys will put a deck area to sit between the woods and their garden.

After six hours of installation, Ms. Bradley was excited to have another part of her yard to showcase in next year's town garden tour. The tour will be stopping by her home June 21, 2008.

"I love it," said Ms. Bradley. "I'm going to stay out here all night."

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Elizabeth M. Bradley, left, and her mother, Maria Klimkiewicz, received $10,000 worth of planting and gardening work after winning Weston Nursey's recent contest.

PHOTOG: T&G Staff Photo/MARK C. IDE
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 26, 2007
Words:743
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