Larry “Bud” Brummett waters the petunias he planted and placed in baskets on the Bill L. Bogart Memorial Bridge along Second Street in Erwin. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keith Whitson)

By Brad Hicks

Larry Brummett does a little bit of everything around Erwin Town Hall but, when the weather is nice, one would be hard-pressed to find the unassuming man known as “Bud” working indoors.

The aspect of Brummett’s job that he takes the most pride in is making certain that downtown Erwin is as beautiful and inviting as possible. It is there that Brummett’s green thumb is on full display, as the Unicoi County native works to ensure the flowers in baskets hanging from downtown light posts and from the sides of the Bill L. Bogart Memorial Bridge along Second Street are in full bloom.

Brummett, who received the nickname “Bud” from his older sister Sharon when he was a boy, was hired by the Town of Erwin around two-and-a-half years ago to complete maintenance and custodial tasks around Erwin Town Hall.

“I like working here at Town Hall,” Brummett said. “It’s a very good place to work.”

But most traveling through Erwin have seen Brummett working outside while applying his plant prowess. Along with his duties at Town Hall, it is Brummett’s responsibility to keep up with the plants hanging throughout downtown and along the bridge. This includes fertilizing, pruning and watering the flowers.

“If it’s real hot, I can come in and work,” Brummett said. “If it’s nice outside, I can go outside and work. I’ve got the option that most people’s not got.”

Brummett said he takes time each day to care for the flowers, as the response for the plants has been overwhelmingly positive among locals.

“Everybody loves them,” he said. “…They stop on the road. As a matter of fact, they’ll hold traffic up and say, ‘Them are beautiful.’”

The baskets hanging from the downtown light poles contain coleus, lantana and sweet potato vine. These, Brummett said, were planted by students from Unicoi County High School. The baskets along the bridge contain petunias, which were planted and placed along the bridge by Brummett himself.

“Every year, they’ll try to have a little bit of something different in them,” Brummett said of the flower baskets.

When it came time to beautify the Bill L. Bogart Memorial Bridge, a heavily-traveled entrance to and exit from Erwin’s downtown, Brummett relied on the resources and skills provided by a previous employer.

Brummett worked at Indian Creek Nursery for around 30 years prior to signing on with the Town of Erwin.

During his tenure with the greenhouse, Brummett did maintenance work around the nursery and drove the delivery truck. He also got to try his hand at growing while there.

The flowers contained within the baskets along the bridge were acquired from Indian Creek Nursery, Brummett said.

Brummett said he is not tied to any type of schedule when it comes to the flowers, as checking up on the plants and maintaining them is left at his discretion.

“That’s what I love about being here,” he said. “I can look out the window and see if they’re wilting, and I know to go water. I ain’t gotta go ask nobody. (Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff) and (Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley), I guess, trust me with my work.”

The flowers, Brummett said, are taken down before the first frost, as the lower temperatures would kill the annual plants.

Temperatures on the morning Brummett sat down inside Town Hall to speak with The Erwin Record were pleasant. With the perfect chance to work outside presenting itself and the flowers under his care on his mind, Brummett leapt from his chair at the conclusion of the interview and hurried to his truck.

“I’m going to work now,” he said. “The baskets on the bridge, they’re wilting a little bit.”