For this Kent worker, it’s all about the blooms

No matter the season, the work never stops for the flower lady of Kent. Janet Henderson, a city of Kent parks nursery and maintenance worker, orders plants in the fall and starts growing them in the winter. That preparation leads to more than 200 hanging baskets of flowers in full bloom to decorate downtown streets and several city parks from May through September.

City of Kent maintenance worker Janet Henderson keeps Kent blooming. She shown Sept. 19 sitting near some of the city's downtown landscaping.

City of Kent maintenance worker Janet Henderson keeps Kent blooming. She shown Sept. 19 sitting near some of the city's downtown landscaping.

No matter the season, the work never stops for the flower lady of Kent.

Janet Henderson, a city of Kent parks nursery and maintenance worker, orders plants in the fall and starts growing them in the winter. That preparation leads to more than 200 hanging baskets of flowers in full bloom to decorate downtown streets and several city parks from May through September.

“She is the hanging basket program,” said Quientin Poil, city parks and recreation maintenance supervisor. “She’s done a very good job. They’re pretty top-notch.”

Henderson, who has worked in the parks department for 17 years, helped oversee 25 hanging baskets when the city’s first baskets appeared five years ago outside of downtown storefronts.

The baskets proved to be so popular that the city continues to expand the program. The baskets decorate downtown streets as well as Ramsay Way through the Kent Station shopping mall.

In addition to the hanging baskets downtown, Henderson plants the baskets at the sports fields at Kent Memorial Park, Service Club Ballfields and Wilson Playfield. Baskets are slated to be added next year outside of the baseball and softball fields at Russell Road Park.

Henderson also plants flowers in 32 green barrels placed on downtown streets as well as 10 islands of plants throughout downtown.

“It’s a lot of work for her to do, but she has some help,” Poil said.

The hard work pays off when visitors or residents stop Henderson to tell her how much they enjoy the blooming baskets.

“They just love it,” Henderson said during a Oct. 7 interview at a Kent Starbucks. “Some people drive to Kent to look at the baskets.”

If those people catch Henderson working on the baskets, she will share her knowledge.

“We talk about the best plants to put where,” Henderson said. “When I get to talk to people about the baskets, it’s very rewarding.”

When Henderson’s not working with the baskets, she helps maintain downtown Kent parks. Henderson recently helped put in new plants around Kaibara Park after a pond renovation project. She will help install nearly 50,000 holiday lights later this year on the trees and bushes at Kaibara Park for the city’s annual display.

“I love it,” Henderson said of her career in parks. “It’s rewarding to see people use the parks. It feels good.”

Henderson didn’t even think applying for a city job until she saw a white city maintenance truck parked near a store when she went shopping with a friend nearly 20 years ago. Henderson had just moved here from Colorado and didn’t know what she wanted to do for work. When Henderson saw three city employees, including a woman, get out of the truck, she decided to apply for a city job.

Henderson started as a parks maintenance worker before she began work in the city nursery about six years later. While working for the city, she has completed continuing education courses about pruning as well as the proper pesticides to use while growing plants.

Away from work, Henderson is married to Pat Henderson, who owns Northwest Industrial Repair of Kent. They live in unincorporated Kent near Covington and have three children and three grandchildren. Their oldest daughter and the grandchildren live in Nebraska. They also have a 15-year-old daughter who plays fastpitch softball and an 11-year-son who plays basketball.

“I’m a fastpitch and basketball mom,” Henderson said.

Henderson said her son plays basketball for Team Jammin’ of the Carly Stowell Foundation. Stowell, a Kentlake student, died of arrhythmia at age 14 in 2007 while attending a national basketball tournament.

Even though Henderson has a large yard at home, she prefers to keep the yard low maintenance despite her skills.

“I’m too busy to put too much time into it,” she said.

But Henderson spends plenty of time in the city of Kent’s yard to help make the hanging baskets of flowers look so good.

“She gets a lot of compliments on those,” Poil said.


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