Janesville47.1°

Woman makes Orfordville bloom

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GINA R. HEINE
January 20, 2008
— People walk and drive by Marla Hallmark’s hard work every day in summer.

Many admire it and share their compliments.


Others miss the beauty and disrupt her work.


But she’s there, day in and day out, watering and caring for them.


“Them” are plants and flowers that Hallmark grows in about 20 barrels throughout downtown Orfordville and at four signs at entrances to the village.


“It gives a little freshness to downtown,” said Sherri Waege, village clerk.


Hallmark started planting and caring for the flowers in 2006 as part of her certification to become a master gardener volunteer through the UW Extension/Rotary Gardens course. She continued the project last summer to complete the 24 volunteer hours needed to maintain her certification.


But her volunteering goes far beyond those hours.


It takes Hallmark about an hour nearly every day in summer to water and maintain all the plants.


Last summer’s grass and potato vines flourished out of the barrels and required a lot of water.


“It’s hotter than heck, and Marla’s out there watering them,” Waege said.


But people take notice.


The village received numerous compliments on the flowers, Waege said.


Village employees handled the flower duties until Hallmark approached them in 2006.


“It kind of blossomed from there,” she said.


The village provides the flowers and water while Hallmark brings the labor and time. When Hallmark needed to pick a volunteer project for her certification, her decision was simple:


“This is my town, and I want to do what I can here,” she said.


Summer is a busy time for Hallmark and her husband, Gary, who own and operate Nu Line Striping, a pavement marking company. So Hallmark developed a system for her daily water run—she fills a 55 gallon tank and a hose on the back of her truck and then uses a bucket to hand-water each barrel.


But don’t forget a little Miracle Grow every couple weeks.


Walking through Hallmark’s home, one might not think of her having a green thumb. She’s not a houseplant person, she said.


She grew up on a farm outside of the village and got her green thumb from her mother, who always had a big garden.


“Which is maybe why I don’t want to have one,” Hallmark says, laughing. “I just remember I hated pulling weeds. It was such a big job.”


Hallmark worked at Mercy Hospital until 2001, when she left to help Gary with the family business.


“I kind of felt like I was not doing my thing anymore,” she said. “It was our thing, but not my thing.”


So she found her own hobby by taking a couple landscaping classes at Blackhawk Technical College before signing up for the Master Gardener program.


Even if she didn’t need to maintain her certification, Hallmark said she’d still enjoy helping the village.


“It’s nice to know that people are noticing (the flowers),” she said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of people because of it. They’ve gotten to know me.”


MARLA HALLMARK
Age: 38
Community: Orfordville
Occupation: Marla and her husband, Gary, own Nu Line Striping in Orfordville
Family: Husband, Gary
Favorite reading: Anything gardening related
Favorite movie: “Back to the Future”
Favorite music: Anything from the ’80s
Favorite food: “Just too many of them.” Mexican and pizza are a close tie.
Favorite pastime: Besides “digging in the dirt,” golfing. “But I can’t dig up the grass … because it makes me feel bad … It probably doesn’t help my golf game, but it makes the grass look good.”
Role models: Mike Maddox and Mark Dwyer, who teach the Master Gardener course through Rotary Gardens and UW Extension.
A word that best describes you: Picky. “I want things to be just the way they’re suppose to be.”

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