Ready, set, beautify!



Here’s one partial solution to the what-to-do-with-the-easeway problem and a strategy for neighborhood beautification. During a short walk today it struck me how pulled-together our block looked (though most in the hood are pretty nice, landscaping-wise).

A few years back, one of the neighbors found these very durable plastic pots and bought a bunch for whomever would take one and plant it. Their initial plan was to have everyone plant canna, but many of us went in a different direction. As long as the stuff is either very tall or very bushy, it seems to work.

Full disclosure: when I took these pictures yesterday, two of the pots were either empty or looked like crap—and I think one or two got cracked over the winter. Overall, though, most still look great, as you can see, though I’m not claiming that the plant choices are particularly exciting. But they do help draw the eye from the impoverished-looking grass or groundcover that covers most of these strips.

So even if some of us aren’t on speaking terms, we do have this nice row of containers as a joint accomplishment. I think it could work for a lot of urban situations and is a good block club project.

A minor gripe about beautification:

I loved Susan’s post about Lady Bird Johnson and her legacy of public beautification, and I do realize the great benefit of having a high profile figurehead for such efforts. But often it seems that celebrities pick cause x because—well, they’re expected to for PR purposes. So let’s descend a bit from the heights of Lady Bird and her work with wildflowers, mass tulip plantings, and community gardens.

Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman has decided he wants to “improve Buffalo’s appearance,” and, as a result, over the last ten days or so we’ve been treated to a barrage of press conferences and media stories about his new neighborhood clean-up initiative, in which he has invited us all to join. It’s harmless and, if carried out, beneficial, but I’ve been trying to figure out what bugs me about it. I guess it’s this: if the guy wants to beautify he has the option of doing so with a score of currently-existing groups that also pick up trash, plant trees, and do community gardens. He could go on a few blitzes with our local guerilla gardeners. He can get out there every day and just do it. But no. There has to be fanfare, there have to be public appearances, and he has to stand on the steps of City Hall. It’s OK, it’s even nice, but still I feel this slight twinge of annoyance every time it’s mentioned.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. i agree that the blitzing gets annoying. but hey, look on the bright side… at least he’s blitzing about something good instead of accidentally making it into rotation. and at least as pam said, he’s not one of the larval presidents. how much longer til 11/08???

  2. I know that twinge, Elizabeth. Everytime someone starts out and declares they are going to start a foundation/charity to solve a problem and there are a dozen or so other groups already working furiously on said problem, I always wonder about these johnny-come-latelys motivations. Is it pure vanity? Stupidity or ignorance? Did they previously work with the other groups andhave a bad break? Why would they not just join up with one of the established successful groups and get some real progress going instead of starting from square one?? Maybe it is not sexy/new to go with the tried and true, but it certainly save on resources/time and be able to build on each others work.

  3. Great post – and since you need to be modest let me say how great your ‘hood looks, landscape-wise and architecture-wise, both. Also, friendliness-wise. I loved it.

    I have a companion post coming tomorrow about another athlete who went green.

  4. I wish someone would give me one or two of those pots; I love them. You can also buy a pump and some pipe and make a pretty little fountain in them. I’ve got one on my back porch to mute the traffic noise from the fairly busy highway that my house sits next to.

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