Hatton gardens display patriotic color

Members of the beautification committee have turned three vacant lots into picturesque public spaces.

(From left) Gary Lillemoen, Karen Aastad, Karen Howsen and Ellen Amb, are members of the Hatton Beautification Committee and volunteered to turn a vacant lot in downtown Hatton into a community orchard and garden. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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HATTON -- From red, roses, to blue delphiniums to white geraniums, visitors attending the Fourth of July Celebration in Hatton will witness live explosions of patriotic colors wherever they go.

A dedicated group of gardeners ensure that Hatton is festive for the Fourth.

“We clean everything up. We put flags out,” said Garry Lillemoen, a member of the Hatton Beautification Committee.

Karen Howsen, Ellen Amb and Karen Aastad make up the remainder of the committee, formed about 15 years ago, to plant flowers in gardens and pots, paint murals on the sides of buildings and put up seasonal flags.

The committee’s efforts are supported by private donations, funding from Hatton Economic Development and grants. Since the beautification committee was formed in 2004, members have turned three vacant lots downtown into picturesque public spaces.


Local organizations and individuals support the work of the committee and they donate time, labor and money to help it. For example, the local men’s club poured the concrete for the pavement in Green Park and a fertilizer business in town helped build a pumping system to water the plants.

Hatton residents appreciate the way the flowers and pots brighten up their town, stopping by to visit or to give Lillemoen, Howsen, Amb and Aastad compliments as they walked by.

“Looks beautiful,” said a woman passing by Green Park on her morning walk, throwing her hands up in the air for emphasis.

Howsen, Lillemoen, Amb and Aastad start planting flowers in the city’s flower gardens and 29 pots in mid-May and spend each Thursday morning throughout the summer weeding and dead-heading flowers. A few years ago, the four rounded up volunteers and planted 500 trees in Hatton, and last year, they planted an orchard in a lot that used to house the Hatton Meat Market.

The community orchard has a variety of trees, including apricot, apple and plum. This year, the committee had help from members of the Promoters 4-H Club, planting fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, tomatoes and herbs, in the vacant lot that once housed the meat market. The children had so much fun digging in the dirt and learning about plants that they weren’t ready to quit when they finished the community garden.

“One of the little 4-Hers was looking for another empty lot,” Lillemoen said.

The four city gardens and pots require an ongoing commitment after they’re planted, the committee members say.

“Gary gets up at 5:30 a.m. to water them all,” Amb said.


Llllemoen also designs the pots, choosing the flowers and greenery based on color and how much sunshine and moisture they require.

Before holidays, such as July 4th, the beautification committee makes sure Hatton’s gardens and pots are ready for company.

“Prime everything, get everything looking good,” Howsen said.

Independence Day is just one of the holidays that gets special attention from the committee.

“We do all seasons,” Amb said. “We change the pots and do Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

The committee members also put up different colors of decorative flags, sewed by a local church, each month in the Hatton park along the edge of state Highway 18

Besides a shared love of gardening Amb, Lillemoen, Howsen and Aastad maintain their membership on the Hatton Beautification Committee because they want their hometown to look its best.

“We love the town,” said Aastad.


“It’s kind of what small town America is," Howsen said.

The annual Hatton July Fourth Celebration begins at 8 a.m. with a breakfast at the Blue Line Bar and Grill. Events during the day include a parade, sponsored by the Hatton Men’s Club, kiddie tractor pull and fire truck rides. The Hatton Eielson Museum will hold its annual dinner beginning at 11:30 a.m.

A pickup truck features a bed full of petunias in a garden along Highway 18 on the south side of Hatton. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Related Topics: HOME AND GARDEN
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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