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Saturday, Mar 28, 2015

Hernando’s government center gets a shot of color


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— Many people who come to the downtown government center can be stressed from having to visit the judge, pay fines or take care of business.

So seeing colorful flowers and plants in the first floor atrium on the other side of the security scanning machines can create a more pleasant atmosphere.

And on Thursday, the county added even more splashes of color.

Some of the county’s master gardeners installed new plants at the atrium located on the first floor of the downtown government center on Main Street.

Hernando County Extension Agent Stacy Strickland said county employees brought in their potted plants to add to the colorful scene, but many could not adapt and died.

The master gardeners, he said, know what kinds of flowers and plants can survive in an indoor environment that doesn’t get constant sun. So, by early next week, visitors will be treated to the sights of bromeliads, Swedish ivy, peace lilies and tall potted ornamental grass.

Strickland said the plants will be cycled out. Some will be moved for a while outside to re-invigorate them and brought back later.

“Putting the county’s best foot forward in the atrium, I think, is the most important (thing),” Strickland said.

Funding for the plants came from some county commissioners and an anonymous donor, according to Virginia Singer, the county’s public information manager. Some of the plants were also donated through the county’s master gardener program.

“The atrium is the first area visitors and employees see as they enter the building,” Singer said. “The declining health of previous plantings has become more noticeable and requests to replace them were received.”

Singer said local garden clubs are invited to display their plants on a rotating basis and will be allowed to display their signs and contact information of their organization.

Master Gardener Sherry Pedonesi spent a good part of her time Thursday wiping mealy bugs off the leaves of various palms. These whitish insects suck the juice off the plants and eventually kill them.

One of the large palm trees that had been located in the atrium will have to come down because of the destruction.

The atrium bas been filled with plants since the facility was built in 1988.

In 2010, then-County Administrator David Hamilton had proposed removing the flora to make way for new offices to accommodate the judges.

Hamilton said there was wasted space there and the area could be better served by re-configuring it for the judiciary.

County commissioners dropped the plan and the plants stayed.

(352) 544-5290

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