Planter beautification will set downtown in bloom

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2008

Downtown Brookhaven is about to bloom – literally.

A Brookhaven Beautiful effort to fill 77 downtown planters withseveral different species of flowers began at dawn Wednesdaymorning, with a three-person group of volunteers darting fromplanter to planter on Cherokee Street with spades in hand and atrailer full of flowers.

The planting, which will take place in the mornings over thenext few days, is a plan that has been long in the works.Brookhaven Beautiful Trustee Shirley Estes hopes the beautificationefforts will not only liven up the area, but also have an economicimpact of its own.

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“When someone comes to downtown and wants to rent property, theappearance of downtown has an effect on the people who come to dobusiness,” she said. “I hope this will cause downtown Brookhaven tocontinue to be revitalized.

“We still have some vacant buildings, and we would love to seethose filled,” she continued. “We would love to see everythingabout downtown enhanced, because what happens downtown affects allareas of the community.”

The effort is entirely volunteer, from the labor to the supplies- the city is not picking up the tab. Instead, downtown businesseshave been asked to contribute $50 each toward the purchase offlowers, fertilizer, mulch and soil; downtown residents Terry andHollie Pappas are performing the labor.

“A lot of folks go home and work in their gardens,” Terry Pappassaid. “We live downtown – these planters are our garden. We want abig flower show with lots of color.”

Pappas said the reaction by downtown businesses has beenoutstanding, with 90 percent of the businesses asked having agreedto contribute. Pappas pointed out downtown banks in particular -State Bank, Trustmark and Bank of Brookhaven. State Bank has paidfor 13 planters, Trustmark has contributed to the program eventhough there are no planters around the building and Bank ofBrookhaven is helping to purchase soil for repotting theplanters.

Careful planning has gone into the creation of the downtowngarden. The Pappases are armed with a planter diagram – drawn up byBuds and Blooms Nursery and Garden – that lays out which flowersshould be planted where in each planter. There are four “recipes” -three versions for planters that receive sunlight throughout theday and one for planters that are shaded.

“There’s a good bit of thought that went into picking out theseflowers,” Pappas said. “These planters get hotter than a gardenaround a house. With the brick and all the asphalt surroundingthem, the sun really cooks them. You can’t just stick any flower inthere – we have year-round heat, and the flowers must be heattolerant.”

The 77 planters targeted for the plan are dispersed aroundCherokee Street, Whitworth Avenue and South Railroad Avenue. Theplanters on Monticello Street will be skipped due to thepossibility of construction.

“We didn’t want to do those planters and then have a lot ofconstruction that tears up what we’ve done and wastes our money,”Pappas said. “This is all community-driven – we have to do itsmart.”

The species of flowers that will go into the planters arediverse and numerous, with seven different types to eachplanter.

Pappas said the selections were made for longevity, as eachflower is of a type that will bloom from now throughout the summerand into September. The Pappases will water and maintain theplanters each week, and will cut back the perennials in the falland plant new flowers for cooler weather.

Pappas said he and his wife were putting the effort intodowntown Brookhaven simply to make it look nice, acknowledgingEstes’ hopes about drawing business into the area. He said thebeautification project, once completed, would make downtown a moreinviting place.

“What we’re trying to do is show people what we could havedowntown,” Pappas said. “It’s just another accent to downtownBrookhaven – it can be a beautiful place to live, work and shop. Ibelieve we could have one of the nicest downtowns in Mississippi,and this is just a part of that puzzle.”