That’s what I’m ranting about these days. (I’m also ranting about unnecessary tree removal.) Public beautification is a necessary evil in urban neighborhoods, but suburban, exurban, and even semi-rural areas often have community plantings as well.
Who takes care of them all? Do angels swoop down, watering, pruning, weeding, removing empty 40-ozers and bags of syringes? Are there somehow troops of city workers, whole departments dedicated to the art of public beauty? I don’t know how everyone else handles it, but here in Buffalo, it’s up to us. The Olmsted crew takes care of the parks, but if you want tubs, hanging baskets, and little pocket gardens, you better find the funding and the sweat.
In Allentown, we have big concrete Wassau planters, a gaggle of baskets and a couple pocket parks. It’s easiest when the stuff is in the ground or a big raised bed. We’ve been doing very well with Russian sage, grasses, tall daylilies (no, not Stellas—ew), rudbeckia, and the like in those places. For the planters, it’s petunias, canna, and zinnias, all homegrown by local gardeners. Those take watering and there’s nothing for it but to carry or drive buckets around every few days. We save our money for the baskets—there, we’ll pay whatever it takes for professionals to fill and maintain them (best if the same company does both).
So far, I’ve had to order some—kind of—threatening guys to get out of one of “my” planters (they protested that there should have been a sign indicated it was not a seat), and gingerly removed many a disgusting object. A drunk crashed his car into one of the planters, destroying it (and that takes some doing, they’re heavy), and a couple of the baskets were stolen. On the whole, though, everything still looks pretty good. Meaning that it still provides color and it’s not dead.
Is there another way? Perennials tend not to overwinter in the planters, and I won’t consider plastic. I do love to see the street flowers, but their care simply does not provide the same satisfaction as even the most grueling personal gardening. It’s just a chore. Have any of you found the solution? Anyone else doubling as a public gardener? Come whine with me!