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Blooms enhance downtown Erwin’s small town atmosphere

Erwin Record Photo by Ty Butler •¨Kevin “Muffin” Tipton is responsible for tending Erwin’s plantings.

By Ty Butler

Residents of Unicoi County may have noticed the lively red dragon wing begonias overflowing from hanging baskets and planters along North Main Avenue.

According to Town of Erwin Public Works Director Tim Bailey, the potted flowers were donated by Unicoi County High School’s Career and Technical Education program, which housed and nurtured the plants before sending them out to add a bit more glamour to the downtown scene in lush plantings.

“We’re in the driest time of the season and you can still see that they’re blooming and really red,” said Bailey.

“They have really thrived in this heat,” Rice noted. 

“We used to always buy pink petunias, but they are too fragile and can’t stand up to the hottest month’s weather,” she said.

These begonias, typically known for their durability in heat, also grow between two to three foot tall, according to PlantCareToday.

The flower’s unmistakable red tint and long growing stems make for a recognizable plant, perfect for use in outdoor plantings.

On Tuesday, August 2, The Erwin Record caught up with the man responsible for maintaining the flower’s upkeep and overall beauty in Erwin.

Kevin Tipton, also known as “Muffin” by his peers, spends his days driving through parts of the town and providing fertilizer and water for his plants.

Erwin Record Photo by Ty Butler • Kevin “Muffin” Tipton waters one of the hanging baskets of red dragon wing begonias.

Tipton said that he takes care of the potted begonias every Tuesday and Friday, but also mows  the area and helps with overall cleanliness.

“Muffin is doing an excellent job and has really taken to his responsibilities,” Bailey added.

Tipton is a part of the Parks and Recreation department which lends its services to more than just the downtown Erwin community. Tipton noted that Veterans Memorial Park, Fishery Park and the skate park next to the Unicoi County Public Library are common working spots throughout the weeks.

The Town of Erwin plans to put out new decorations as winter nears, but have not identified exactly what they will do for the next seasonal cycle of town-enhancements.

“When I go to visit other towns, I notice whether the grass it cut, if the weeds are out of the sidewalks,” said Bailey. 

“I think we do a wonderful job keeping it spruced up downtown,” he added. “It’s inviting.”