FAIRBURY — The Fairbury Garden Club is hoping their new award program will encourage local residents to “stop and smell the roses.” Instead of organizing a “Garden of the Month” program, the Fairbury Garden Club has opened up its award program to anything that brings a smile to members’ faces.

    “Club members would like to recognize beautiful areas in Fairbury like spring blooming trees, entryways, gardens, potted plants — anything that makes us smile,” Barb Ward, a garden club member and program co-chairperson said. “We’ve created two signs that will be placed in the yards that make us smile for two or three weeks.”

    The only criteria for the “Because It Makes Us Smile” award is that the award-winning area must be able to be seen from the road. After receiving approval from the homeowner and a little information about the plants or garden area being recognized, a sign is placed near the awarded area of the yard so that community members can see the featured plants and recognize the beauty.

    A photo with a little bit of information about the awarded area is also featured on the club’s Facebook page, “Fairbury IL Garden Club.”

    “We hope that people ‘like’ and share those photos,” Ward said. “Then, when people recognize the award around town, I hope that they’ll take a second to look and smile at the beauty they see. The award also gives our members a reason to look around their neighborhoods. It just gives you something else to look for when you’re out and about.”

    The club’s first award recipients were John and Connie Rich. Ward particularly liked the couple’s blooming redbud trees. Marty and Brian Sullens also had a sign in their yard to recognize the bright spots of colorful flowers in their shade garden. During the next round, Rich and Colleen Hornickel received the award for the potted plants adorning the front of their house. The most recent award recipient is Karen Munz.

    “What I particularly liked about Karen’s yard was all of the colors,” Ward said. “I think it’s the red that really attracts people. She has so much stuff going on that it’s hard to pick one specific thing to appreciate.”

    Munz appreciated being recognized by the garden club with the award. A garden dedicated to her son, the late Brian Munz, is adorned with red and white geraniums around the perimeter with a few firefighter garden ornaments and a memorial rock in the middle. When Ward said she was particularly amazed by the red geraniums around the property, Munz responded by saying that she has always planted red and white geraniums in her yard.

    “I also help with the flowers at the fire station and we do the red and white up there,” Munz said. “I think it helps make the gardens brighter.”

    To keep up with her large gardens, Munz said she is often outside working.

    “I do it because I think my gardens help make people smile,” Munz said. “A lot of people come by this alley in the summertime on their bikes or walks. They tell me they like to come down and look at my flowers.

    “Sometimes they bring elderly people down. I like that they come and that the flowers are visible. Maybe that person had a beautiful garden at one time, but now they’re too old to keep up with it. It’s nice for them to be able to come out and appreciate the flowers.”

    The garden club meets from April to October, so the award program will just be seasonal, but Ward hopes it will continue in the coming years.

    “I don’t think we’ll have any issues finding things to appreciate in the fall,” Ward said. “Have you ever seen some of the leaves on our beautiful trees when they change? We could choose a beautiful tree in the fall, or maybe some mums or something.”