Sue Ihlo continues her long "flowering" tradition

By Joe Moskowitz
One of the sure signs that Memorial Day is just around the corner in Margaretville is watching Sue Ihlo planting, watering, and weeding the flower barrels on Main Street. When Sue isn’t tending the flowers, she’s busy running her business, The Cheese Barrel, but when she gets a break, she is fussing with the flowers.
LOCAL COLOR: Sue Ihlo has been the leader in bringing colorful buckets of flowers to Margaretville and Arkville for many years. — Photo by Dick SanfordLOCAL COLOR: Sue Ihlo has been the leader in bringing colorful buckets of flowers to Margaretville and Arkville for many years. — Photo by Dick Sanford

Long tradition
Ihlo moved to Margaretville from Queens about 25 years ago. The next year she said she put a barrel with flowers out in front of Margaretville’s Village Pub. She said that one Margaretville businessperson after another asked for one. Ihlo is now in charge of about 90 barrels, three parks, hanging baskets, and in-ground planting on Bridge Street. She also orders and gets the money to pay for flowers for dozens more barrels in Arkville. Sue said she considers Margaretville and Arkville to really be just one community. Kyle and Joy Holden are responsible for maintaining the Arkville flowers.
It takes time a lot of work, and money, to keep Margaretville in bloom.
The Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce is officially in charge, but in reality, Sue Ihlo runs the show. She raises the money, and she said she usually gets whatever she needs. Even in tough economic times, there are always people willing to donate to her flower project. The money is handled by the MARK Project and Ihlo said every penny goes for the flowers.
Getting help is easy. The Cub Scots maintain one park, There are volunteers who help plant, Margaretville Central School assigns kids to help as part of their “Community Service”, and there are the employees of The Cheese Barrel Helping the boss with the flowers goes with the job. Ihlo praised one of them, Elia Tanzer, for her great ability at one of the least glamorous part of the flower business, removing weeds. Ihlo said Tanzer is just great at it.
But on most days it is Sue who is out doing the watering, weeding, and other work.
Sue said that she does it because it looks good, she loves flowers, and she likes the idea that people appreciate what she does. And she said, “It’s just for five months.” That leaves us seven months waiting for her flowers, but for now, they’re back.