Archive for Saturday, February 28, 2009

City looking for volunteers to keep the bloom on downtown

Spring is on the way, and so are hundreds of colorful flowers for downtown Lawrence. City officials are hoping Lawrence residents can provide a helping hand.

February 28, 2009


On the street

Should the city ask for volunteers to perform city services?

Sure. I think a lot of people probably would do it if they knew that they could.

More responses

It has always been a sure sign of the season — hundreds of spring flowers waiting to be planted in downtown planters.

But now, it is the sign of another season — the season of a strained city budget.

City Hall leaders on Friday put out a call for volunteers to help plant hundreds of orange, yellow and blue pansies in planters throughout downtown this spring.

Crystal Miles, the city’s horticulture manager, said the city has used volunteer planters in the past, but the city is placing extra emphasis on using volunteers this year as the city could face a $1 million shortfall in state funding for a variety of programs.

“If somebody wants to work with us, we will gladly put them to work,” Miles said.

Specific dates for the plantings haven’t been set. Instead, Miles said people interested in volunteering could leave their names and contact information by calling 832-7970 or logging on to

City commissioners have considered eliminating at least one downtown planting — probably the fall planting — if city revenues do come in short this year. Thus far, city officials haven’t made a decision on whether to eliminate a planting, but instead are waiting to see whether state legislators cut funding to cities. The elimination of a planting would be expected to save the city about $10,000.


womanwarrior 9 years, 1 month ago

The constant complainers on ljw will never step away from their computers long enough.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

red- guess I would meet one of your qualifications. Now... just to get things straight, just because I work for someone doesn't mean they own me. Furthermore..... can I have an advance.

alm77 9 years, 1 month ago

Why don't they plan the planters and put in perennials? Then they would just need to weed.

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

Good Idea! We proposed some ideas along this line a number of years ago, prior to Parks and Rec. undertaking the enhanced program they have done in the past few years. A couple possibilities to consider; each could save the City a considerable amount of money.

  1. As per the attached story, utilize volunteers to assist Parks and Rec. by providing help with planting, watering and maintaining the planters. Parks and Rec. would continue to purchase the plant material and supply the necessary equipment.


  1. Ask Garden Clubs, Master Gardeners, service organizations and individuals to monitarily sponsor the plantings. The City would direct this effort, utilizing volunteer help from each group.


  1. Utilize local plant nurseries and garden centers to donate plant material. Those groups could assist Parks and Rec in planting and maintaining their assigned planters. Parks and Rec would control the design and appropriateness of the planters. A friendly competition could be established between the groups to "be the Best":.

Either of these suggestions has the potential to save Park and Rec's. budget; while getting the community more involved.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

Alm 77 is on to something.

Plan drought and insect resistant perennial Kansas Landscapes for each planter. Then ALLOW and encourage shop owners to set out their own beautification projects.

Where are the black eyed susans,pink cone flowers,blue stem and other ornamental grasses etc etc etc. Grasses provide excellent fall and winter colors.

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

Perennials are not good for the type of planter setting in downtown Lawrence; their bloom time and duration is too short and they become ungainly. Perennials are more suited for planting in garden areass where their effectivness is appreciated. Annuals are ideal because of their extended bloom time as well as the ability to change the planting throughout the flowering season. If supplied by voluntary monitary contributuion, the cost would be nil.

Godot 9 years, 1 month ago

Why don't the business owners downtown plant the flowers?

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

Multidisciplinary (Anonymous) says… Planter competitions anyone?

Okay... you win, now lets go the bar.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

Changing out the beds several times a season is labor and material intensive. Truly will require city staff as volunteers may not be available at the times necessary to facilitate changing of the seasons.

Although annuals do very well in garden planters, there are certainly many reasons to consider planting perennials in container gardens. Longetivity and, over time, economy are important considerations.

Annuals must be replaced year after year, whereas perennial gardening provides the experience of growing a plant through a number of seasons and creating a mature, ever-expanding garden. Many perennials are easy to propogate, so garden plantings will increase without additional expense.

Selection of the right perennial plants for garden planters is critical for establishing a garden for long-term enjoyment if garden space is not available to re-plant large, mature perennials. The wide variety of perennials that do well in planters grows every year and you will often find you can create a unique container when you choose perennials rather than the more common annuals offered in nurseries.

It would also seem that the large concrete city planters would lend themselves to successful perennial seasons.

So many perennials offer beautiful foliage after blooms expire = low maintenance.

townie79 9 years, 1 month ago

maybe we can contact Bravo to turn the competition into a reality show...

"Top Planter" anyone?? Martha Stewart could host and after each elimination she could dismiss the contestant by saying... "Your bloom has fallen...good bye"

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

Merrill: Initially perennials sound like a good idea but they require more work than you realize in that kind of containerized setting. Year round maintenance; throughout the year, those planters get very dried out during the winter; plants would have a tough time surviving. Also, because of their nature, perennials grow by spreading and dividing; getting larger as they mature. This would result in dividing and replanting if they were to survive and/or control their growth. Additionally, perennials tend to have a more "wild" or "natural" appearance; which works well in a garden setting, but less so where more control is desired.

Annuals, because of their nature and breeding can produce immediate results, and are ideal for containerized settings such as the downtown planters..

flux 9 years, 1 month ago

This is a great idea! There are a lot of really bored/lonely people that just want to be part of something. Can you imagine if we had a system that allowed you to work off some your city fines or taxes by beautifying the city.....mowing...planting....etc?

flux 9 years, 1 month ago

Im not talking about court ordered community service.

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

DLI tried to do some of the things suggested in the above comments; but the "former" City Manager fought tooth and nail. City did not want to lose control along with liability issues. Containered thinking, but now it's time to get out of the box.

BigPrune 9 years, 1 month ago

Didn't the City spend $80,000 on flowers last year? Why weren't those perrenials? If the City paid for it, they should've prorated the cost to the downtown merchants. Same goes for snow removal and any other expenditure the City has to maintain the downtown.

After all, it's only the fair and right thing to do.

gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

Here's another vote for perennials. Let them go a little wild and they'll perform their own weed control. Over time, the lower reaches will become a home for birds and squirrels. Once established, the only long-term maintenance should be trash removal.

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r: Might want to look at KDOT regulations about "wild" plantings in an area that has pedestrians and high automobile traffic. There is enough problem in that arena without planting camoflage. Also, allowing enough growth to provide space for birds and squirrels could present a real fire hazzard. Those planter areas are where smokers deposit their "butts" and well as their "arses".

gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

I couldn't care less about KDOT's opinion regarding wildlife. Unless and until they abandon their attempt to bulldoze the Wakarusa wetlands for their pet highway project, they have no credibility. Besides, we're talking about sidewalk planters, not medians and shoulders, so KDOT's regulations shouldn't apply.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

hey hawk, if not I have a wreck and parked truck you can have.

KsTwister 9 years, 1 month ago

Want to save $10k then why not run a contest for each store owner to decorate their own? You might be surprised with a $500 award and still have a good looking downtown. Make it seasonal perhaps?

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