What is the secret to a beautiful city traffic island? After 4 years, mine is still awful. In 2007, I volunteered to manage an island in my town that is right in the heart of a major traffic exchange. In the center of an asphalt jungle. I thought it would be a great experience, that I would learn a lot and that eventually I could refer to it as an example to promote my business. I was sadly mistaken.
The first year I cleaned out the island. The red mulch and the weeds. Weeds like this vine that continue to plague my planting from year to year. And the yuccas had to go. I was not a big fan and they were definitely not a signature plant of mine.
I put in all kinds of meadow plants and bulbs. Leftovers from jobs. Grasses. Daylilies. Peony. Yarrow. Drought tolerant plants. Workhorse plants that would fill in. I was creating a low maintenance, beautiful garden right in the heart of all of this traffic. People waved to me as I was planting. They smiled. I was hopeful. And confident so I had the city order my sign.
The first year, Spring 2008, the garden was getting established. Plants were small, but they were alive and the garden even seemed color coordinated. I weeded and people thanked me for this service as they drove by.
Later that summer, it was still looking good.
The rest of the island looked presentable but I had lost a lot of plants and put new ones in – starting at square one again. I weeded but not that much and was confident that I was on my way to a low maintenance island.
Late last fall, I replanted. Forget drought tolerant plants. I put in aggressive natives. Mountain mint and Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’. I hope they take over like they did in my garden. Next step – Gooseneck Loosestrife! Anemone canadensis. Or bee boxes and fun art and forget plants altogether.
I had every intention of planting daffodils so the island would look great this spring but the ground was frozen by the time I had any energy. I hope bulbs can last a season in a basement.
I have not been over to visit the island yet. I hope everything survived and that the island will begin to live up to the billboard “Meadow Design”. One can only hope.