All too soon, we’ll be grateful for any vestige of greenery in the great — or not-so-great — outdoors. But, in the meanwhile, I can’t help feeling irked at the very sight of a few plantings “gracing” some of our public places.
The one that gets my goat every time I see it in town is the privet bush. I’m hardly what you might call a horticulturalist, but you don’t have to be an expert to realize that this species seems to be the default botanical of the city’s public works department, and its abundance, sizing and oddly scalped manicuring throughout two of our parks, the one at Seventh Street and Promenade Hill, are just too depressing to ignore. They all look as if they were pruned by Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre rather than by Edward Scissorhands, let alone any of the legion of gifted landscapers who make this town their home and who would no doubt offer their advice and loving hands purely as an act of civic generosity, if only they were asked. In the meanwhile all I want to do is rip these mothers from their roots, particularly the ones surrounding the railroad tracks in the 7th Street Park. Here’s one small example from which we would all benefit by taking a cue from New York City’s High Line —take pride in the tracks and stop trying to camouflage them with what now looks like a pile of sticks with some leaves attached. (As for safety, one could be sure that the sound of a massive freight train blasting its horn til your ears are popping and traveling at five miles an hour towards you, would be sufficient enough protection.)
Another planting that is a scrunched eyesore, just by placement and lack of proper care, is not a shrub but two very shrubbish-looking cedar trees, placed on either side of the entrance canopy of the county office building, formerly the Sixth Street School on State Street. To my mind’s eye, there should no foliage here whatsoever –the building is a remarkable enough example of the Romanesqe style to stand on its own; in addition to getting rid of the trees and the awning, a good cleaning (and improving the now ungainly fenestration) will reveal a structure of dazzling color that will make its unique massing all the more delightful. Once properly bathed and repaired, there should be no need to dress up a building like this with anything. –Scott Baldinger