‘The Flower Lady’ prepares to retire from her downtown Columbus route

COLUMBUS, Ind. — When the flower pots came down just before Ethnic Expo, it was as if downtown Columbus lost a little of its smile.

That sentiment comes from the woman who has taken care of 56 flowering pots and 18 hanging plants in the downtown area, as well as flowers outside Columbus City Hall and the county’s general office building, for the past 14 years.

“It has a little sadness to it,” said Becky Church, often referred to as the Flower Lady. “People benefit from seeing the colors of the flowers. And studies show how community beautification can help keep crime down.”

While the flowers will return next spring, they will no longer be overseen by Church. After she crafts the Christmas floral displays at City Hall, the proprietor of Becky’s Flowers will give up her largest client, Church said.

“It was a very difficult thing for me to give it up,” the 62-year-old Church said. “As much as I love and enjoy it, I had to start cutting back because of family responsibilities, a bum shoulder and old age.”

It has also been a strain to start working on the gardening work at 4 a.m., so that her presence doesn’t have a negative impact on business traffic, nor on her own safety, she said.

Church’s work week could be exhausting. For example, just going on a watering route to all 38 of her clients (she counts the entire downtown area as just one client) takes about eight hours to complete, she said.

“I fill my 300-gallon water tank about five times to water all my properties,” Church said. “But if you don’t consistently water flowers, there’s a point of no return when they start to look bad and completely die out on you …”

Church paused for a moment before finishing her thought.

“But I’ve never lost a flower in all these years,” she said with a well-earned sense of pride.

For the complete story and more photos, see Wednesday’s Republic.