Today, I was at a conference on technology that really was not going anywhere fast, when I received an email that the city nursery was giving away free flowers to non-profits. I had thought it would be a nice idea to have everyone on the block plant flowers, either on the curbs in front of their houses or in their front yards. In short, I wanted to beautify the block. There was a shooting on Sunday and since then I have really been trying to get the other residents to think about how aesthetics can play a role in inviting or repelling crime.
I decided to leave the useless tech conference in favor of gaining free flowers for the block. I had to drive all the way to 51st and Drexel. I had no idea how far away and in the middle of nowhere this was. As I drove down 51st St., I noticed a wooden, engraved sign, just like those in any of the city parks. This one tells you that you have arrived at the City of Milwaukee nursery (where they grow all of the plants for boulevard improvements and other initiatives paid for by the city). You have to get out of your car and open a large gate, then drive onto the property. Once inside, you have to get out of the car again to close the gate. They keep it very private.
I asked where I could find the "free flowers", and a hipster with hipster sunglasses on told me to pull around to the garage and that someone would be "wandering around". I found no one, but after asking again, they radioed the woman and I finally made contact.
There were so many different types of plants to choose from that it was a very difficult choice to make; I decided to ask for low-maintenance, hearty flowers so that the neighbors would be more likely to take them, knowing that the care would be minimal.
The woman was extremely helpful and everyone was super pleasant. We loaded my car full of tall, purple flowers whose petals fall off at a whim, French's mustard-colored marigolds, low-lying, ground hugging pink flowers, ornamental grass and some kind of flowering plant with copper and rust-colored leaves- the flowers themselves are more like spiky caterpillars.
When I got them home, Steve and I divided them into 9 different groupings, with 1-3 of each type of plant; I distributed them to the neighbors who I thought could use more color in their front yards. I asked them to only accept the free plants if they would commit to using them in the front yard, in order to contribute to the look of the block as a whole. So far, no one has planted them, but I am hoping on Saturday to see splashes of intensity in every yard so that the block looks expressly unified in color...