PORT BYRON, Ill. — It wouldn't be a Quad Cities summer without the clubs, crowds and course at the John Deere Classic. But before the PGA can make a stop in Silvis, one local business begins its tournament prep work months in advance.
As the official JDC landscaper, Uncommon Ground is responsible for decorating TPC Deere Run with nearly 12,000 petunias, calibrachoas, marigolds, vincas, potato vines and more. Golf fans can enjoy the flowers on almost half of the course holes, the entryway and common areas.
"When you see it completed and you listen to people that walk by, they can't believe something like that pops up in the middle of a golf course," said Mike Cavins, co-owner of Uncommon Ground. "We use thousands of flowers at the entryway alone so when the guests come in for the classic they just think, 'Wow!'"
But getting all of those flowers ready is no small task. The landscaping team jokes that as they're tearing down the current year's design they're already dreaming up what will be on display the next summer.
Each flower used at the classic is grown in two greenhouses built by the Uncommon Ground team. A first batch of seedlings arrives in February and a second is planted in early April.
One flat of the tiny sprouts contains about 500 seedlings. Uncommon Ground gets at least three flats of each color of petunia used at the classic.
"It's just a sea of flowers in here. It's so fun," Cavins laughed.
In a few weeks the seedlings double in size and are each put in their own pot. Three weeks later, those same pots each tout seven to eight colorful flower heads. But even that needs to grow 50% larger before it's ready for its PGA debut.
"It doesn't have to be high-tech," Cavins said. "You don't have to have a massive growing facility. You just have to have people that know what they're doing. And really, it's moisture and temperature and time."
When News 8 visited, greenhouse manager Jennifer Boerema was busy planting the most recent batch of seedlings.
"We just take the little plug here and we poke a little hole with our finger, pop the plug in and pinch it in, giving it a little reservoir for water to collect later," Boerema demonstrated. "And I've got about 2,000 more to do!"
It's the company's largest project of the year, but the team doesn't mind.
"Our tournament in this little town is a big deal," Cavins smiled. "And we want it to be a big deal when people walk in."
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