commission enhances City with colorful flowers and plants
As you cruise through the city of Northville … on foot, on bike or by
car … your eye is likely drawn to the colorful pots of flowers and
in-ground plantings that grace every street in the downtown area and the
entrances to this 149-year-old city.
Teams of pink t-shirt-clad
volunteers who belong to the City of Northville Beautification
Commission (BC) get the plantings done every spring and maintain them
throughout the growing season. Their work is supplemented by the DDA in
the downtown district and by local businesses that create eye-popping
displays of flowers and plants, often set against a backdrop of
well-tended shrubs and trees.
You may have noticed the begonias
at Hutton and Main between Long’s and the Presbyterian Church, the
juniper and sedum berm near Rural Hill cemetery, and the hostas and
roses that grace the gazebo in Rotary Park next to the water wheel.
The color scheme and plants are chosen by DDA director Lori Ward and
BC Chair Diane Pittaway. Members on the commission … 13 currently …
plant flowers and maintain the larger plantings that grace the city
spring through fall.
The BC takes on a special project each
year. This year, on Sept. 12, a team of nine was digging in the dirt at
the median along N. Center St., south of 8 Mile to extract weeds, add
fabric guard and fresh mulch to ward off new weeds, then reposition the
plants. Refreshing tired areas is a labor of love that these gardeners
The BC works closely with the DDA and Department of Public Works to get
all the plantings completed and maintained. Both cover the cost of
flowers, which are purchased from local vendors. The DDA does the
watering and the DPW supplies boulders, mulch, equipment and transport.
The DDA manages the planters on the Town Square and other public spaces.
“When you’re in the city, it’s more enjoyable to see greenery
and flowers rather than all concrete,” Pittaway said.
president, Pittaway sets the planting dates and asks members
of the commission to sign up for times and places that work for them as
teams or individually. Often, when passersby see the BC crews working in
a landscaped area, they will say “thank you.” Some even tell them that
they copied the color scheme or flower choice in their own gardens.
“Flowers make Northville look inviting and it inspires people to be
creative in their own gardens,” Pittaway said. “It makes a statement to
residents and visitors that says, ‘We welcome you.’”
of life through gardening and plantings
Each spring, the BC assists
with giving free seedlings to residents to plant as part of a broader
effort to increase the tree canopy in southeastern Michigan. In 2016,
1,400 seedlings were handed out.
Members of the commission also belong to the Beautification Council of
Southeastern Michigan and can attend quarterly meetings to learn from
other members and hear guest speakers talk about trends in gardening and
Gardening trends for cityscapes include
planting natural grasses and native plants at the entrances of
subdivisions, and using rain gardens to funnel rain water through
carefully positioned plants so very little excess water goes down the
“It ends up being easier to take care of and still gives
us the beauty of the outdoors that adds quality to our life,” Pittaway said.
The commission will be 50
years as an organization in February 2017. Julie Mantay, former chair of
the commission, has long ties to the group because her mother Barbara
O’Brien was one of the founding members. (O’Brien passed away in July
“So many in the group really take their job to heart,”
noted Pittaway. “They work together and often bring guest workers. They
have this generous spirit and ask, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to do this for
Keeping that spirit of community involvement in
mind, those interested in serving on the commission can contact the City
Manager’s office at 248.349.1300.
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