Downtown Has Been Planted!

downtownplanting-8May 26, 2011

The Urban Management Department has completed the downtown planting project. 99% of all plant material was grown in the City greenhouse. They did purchase 40 flats of vinca ($395) in order to have one additional flowering plant in the beds.

Plants grown in the greenhouse and used in our beds are:

  • Wandering Jew
  • Coleus (14 varieties, some of which were discovered last year)
  • Panama Red Hibiscus
  • Canna (4 varieties)
  • Pentas
  • Elephant ears (2 varieties)
  • Agave
  • Bell pepper
  • Copper plant
  • Croton
  • Arboricola
  • Alternanthera (3 varieties)
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Zinnia
  • Banana plants
  • Purple Heart
  • Cuban Oregano
  • Shrimp plant
  • Mexican Petunia
  • Lantana (4 varieties)
  • Lamium
  • Duranta
  • Dichondra
  • Caladium
  • Hosta
  • Ornamental grass (3 varieties)
  • Moon Vine
  • Kimberly Queen ferns
  • Dwarf Bamboo
  • Mandevilla
  • Castor Bean plant
  • Perennial Mums
  • Hyacinth Bean
  • Potato Vine

downtownplanting-5This beautiful array of foliage and flowers have been planted around City Hall, the City Hall Annex, Cultural Arts, the beds down Main Street around to Court Street, Heritage Park, Creekwalk Garden, the Creekwalk access (alley in front of Whitney Bank), the Creekwalk (5 new beds), a small planting at the Autauga Prattville Public Library, Doster Center, Gillespie Center, the entrance to Silver Hills, the neighborhood entrance to the Country Club, and the gateway signs at Highway 14, Cobbs Ford Road and Highway 82.

When asked what their design process was in filling the beds, Assistant Horticulturists Matt Morgan and Deven Peek explained that you start with something tall in the middle or back of the bed and then fill around it to create good contrast in color, texture, or leaf size. Their approach to the big pots is "thriller, spiller, filler"! Thriller being the most dramatic plant, spiller being those plants that grow to "spill" over the sides of the pot, and filler being those plants that take up space while completing the effect of the design.

Urban Management Department Head Ken Johnson planted alternanthera (or Joseph's Coat) in the area in front of the horse set up in Heritage Park. Due to the brightness of the yellow color of the flower, it naturally draws the eyes to the horse which is the feature of the design. When designing around hydrants, most of which are yellow in Prattville, our horticulturists plant something dark, low-growing, and hearty plants. They plant dark so it doesn't clash with the brightness of the hydrant. They plant low-growing so as not to interfere with the purpose of the hydrant. They plant hearty so when hydrants are used or tested, the plants are able to withstand the water and pressure released.

Staff also take shade, sun, water availability and traffic into consideration when designing the contents of our beds. Peek and Morgan work around pre-existing irrigation when designing a bed. Johnson applied a slow release fertilizer prior to planting. This product is good for about 3 months, depending on the heat. Now that the beds are fully planted, crews have mulched them to hold in moisture. They will come back later in the season to apply a liquid fertilizer if it is needed. Urban Management crews have begun pinching and pruning already to keep the plants compact and spreading so that they fill the beds instead of growing upward.

There is approximately 30% shade inside the greenhouse so when our plant material is first planted, a few leaves may scorch from direct sunlight. Within a couple weeks (to a month), those plants flush back out with new growth.

Our hanging baskets, a downtown favorite, are not in place this year. Urban Management Department Head Ken Johnson reported that the cost of labor, materials, and plants to provide those would be approximately $10,500. With the loss of the part-time staff which comprised the watering crew, this part of their program was cut.

There are two pots which have been planted on Main Street close to Bridge Street. Steve and Carol Brooks volunteered to water these pots, that is the reason those are planted and the others are empty. Drip irrigation was added, from supplies on hand, for the pots at City Hall and on the Creekwalk access (alley across from Whitney Bank) so that they could also be filled. Drip irrigation was included in the design at Cultural Arts so their pot has been planted as well (shown in the picture below).


Crews have pruned the trees downtown to keep growth off the canopies. They have revamped the Creekwalk beds as well.


downtownplanting-40 downtownplanting-9

The Urban Management Department and their staff truly hope you are able to enjoy their hard work. The City of Prattville commends them for doing more with less and for making us beautiful!