Tuesday, June 10, 2008

City Street Planter Review: Awful!

I was just starting to wonder when the city was going to get around to filling the tree planters that line the sidewalks when ...voila! The flowers have arrived. The selection of plants isn't exactly awe-inspiring. Instead, there's a lot of the tried and true: petunias, begonias, potato vines. It's hard to go wrong with these plants in a tough, unforgiving, urban environment.

This year, however, there is something distinctly different. The flowers aren't planted IN the planters. They are sitting on top of the planters in lined wire baskets. Those baskets, in turn, are sitting in plastic garden trays. The whole contraption is held in place by a metal frame that wraps itself around the tree trunk. Let me pause here to give you my impressions: Bleechh! Ugh! and Bleechh! This is truly an eyesore.

What were they thinking? Money must be factor: I suppose it's more cost effective to drop off a pre-fab garden display and bolt it into place than to individually address each street planter. Over time, I suppose the plants will fill in and hide the framework. That takes time, though. In the meantime the view is hideous. The plastic trays are no doubt meant to collect rainwater to keep the plant baskets moist. In a city that's been drought-ridden for the past few summers, I say good luck. Even with a normal amount of rainfall, every gardener knows that these types of baskets need extra water. Without some added help, they'll be fried by the end of July. Is there a plan to keep these plants alive?

I don't know if this is a city-wide initiative or a move by the local business improvement group. Whoever is responsible, I suggest a re-think. If beautifying the streetscape is the objective, this is a step in the wrong direction. There is nothing beautiful about this. If saving money is the objective, wouldn't a one-time expense on a planting of hardy perennials be a better choice, one that could provide beautiful blooms for years to come?

Maybe, come August, these planters will prove me wrong. Maybe they will be lush and overflowing with blooms. After all, at just the right distance and just the right angle, they don't look that bad, do they? Yeah, right. "The devil is in the details," goes the saying. The details of these baskets, metal frames and hideous, hideous plastic trays add up to one big mess. Here's my review: awful. Just awful.

What do you think?


Karen said...

All I can say is, I doubt that whoever came up with this was ever a gardener.

guild-rez said...

At least there are flowers planted
in your area. Here in our corner of the city weeds and neglected parks greet our visitors.
I would be very happy to take care of any flower basket along our street but there are none..
-Cheers Gisela

Connie said...

That is indeed an odd planting method! It seems the plants would be healthier and use less water planted directly in the actual planters, which I think are really quite attractive.
You can always hope that they were just trying out the plants to see how they would look....and that someone is coming along behind to actually plant them. ;-)

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

That's a half-assed job. Seems like they'll dry out wice as quick sitting above ground, which means more time watering or dead flowers quicker. Which saves money more?

Soilman said...

Yup, pretty awful.

But I suppose on the plus side, at least they're trying. Sort of. It would just be better if they had a gardener on staff at City Hall to advise them better. This looks like the work of a non-plantsman.

Owin & Irena said...

hi everyone. thanks for the reviews. Flowers are better than no flowers. I live just steps away from the street with the planters so i am committed to watering them through the summer. I really do hope they all fill in and bloom like crazy and prove me very, very wrong.

kate smudges said...

I'm with you on thinking these look ugly ... it would be most surprising (and shocking) to discover there is actually a horticulturalist behind the promotion of this. I hope that they do grow and fill in and look less tacky.

In some ways, I'd rather not see any flowers than this sort of half-hearted attempt at beautification.

Viooltje said...

I totally agree with you, and your city is not alone in this. If I went on a tour like this, I'm sure I would find some lovely blooms and decorations, some great combinations, but soon enough I would be stunned by neglect. On a similar level, I felt the same way in this restaurant the other day, there were these poor, neglected plants barely alive at the side of the windows, and it brought sadness to my heart so I had to ask the waitress to bring on a bucket of water and give these poor souls a treat of the year probably. Need I mention the raised eyebrow she gave me? LOL

Wicked Gardener said...

May be you city could have an "Adopt-a-Planter" program. I mean, you're taking care of it already, it would be nice to get credit.

Ottawa Gardener said...

I agree with you! Just put in perennials. How hard can it be to re-mulch and weed once in a while people!

I am mildly offput by the tendency of Ottawa to plant stiff rows of Cleome and petunia in nearly complementary colours.