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City Gardens
Photo: Studiomill
Flowers and green plants offset the hard surfaces that define and dominate cities. With tight budgets, many cities depend on organized efforts by gardening groups and business owners to plant and maintain flowerbeds and boxes.

Published by the Dayton Daily News in cooperation with Downtown Dayton Partnership, the “Downtowner” May issue features urban gardening on its cover. In addition, it profiles the “First Bloom” program that kicks off during the week of May 15. Volunteers will fan out in the downtown area to fill gray planter boxes that have been installed in front of various downtown businesses. This year purple Wave petunias, pink Dragon Wing begonias, and Marguerite sweet potato vines will festoon the planters.

During the initial year of “First Bloom,” 125 large planter boxes were installed. Last year 60 more boxes were added. This year the Downtown Dayton Partnership plans to place an additional 40 boxes. Once all the boxes are planted with a variety of flowering plants, the businesses agree to water and maintain the boxes. A volunteer “Posy Patrol” periodically checks the boxes, reminding business owners of those that need attention. To motivate continued attention, awards are given throughout the summer for the best-looking planters. In the fall, volunteers remove the dead plants.

For those who want to brighten their streetscapes, the cover article features advice from two gardeners who are part of the Five Rivers MetroScape team that covers planting beds at RiverScape, the Second Street Market, the North Shore and Deeds Point.

These professionals shared advice, including:

1. Start with a good design

2. Determine the PH of the soil, amending with fertilizers, mulch, and peat moss to achieve balance

3. Choose plants that are appropriate for the amount of sun and other climatic conditions

4. Don’t place the plants too deeply in the soil

5. Know your friendly insects and avoid drenching the plants with pesticides

6. Water well once a week; apply fertilizer as needed

7. Groom the plants by pinching off dead flower heads or straggly growth

For more details about the partnership that is revitalizing Dayton, check this Web site:  www.downtowndayton.org

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Center for Metropolitan Ministries reporting by Kim Ridley. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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