Travel Buddy: Julia Hart

As spring approaches, the subject has come up again and still, the answer is as tangled as a weedy garden.

What is the answer to the perennial question–whose job is it to keep the downtown flower boxes planted and watered?

The finger is pointed in many directions. So far no one had kneeled down to plant a single seed.

Not only is there the question of who does the work, but decisions about what kind of flowers should be in the planters keeps being strung out like noxious vines.

Obviously low maintenance, pretty and drought-resistant foliage is preferred. But no one is ready to commit to a daisy or a shrub.

One can be sure, the weeds know where to go. They are flourishing while leaders are hesitating in the tall grass.

Chair of the Sunnyside Arts Commission Mike Kennard thinks grass should be added to the wrought iron units scattered up and down South Sixth Street and East Edison Avenue.

There is talk of adding flowers which attract butterflies to the downtown area, suggested by councilman Dean Broersma.

Last spring, volunteers organized by Destination Sunnyside swept through the planters tearing out garbage, debris and dead plants. For the rest of the summer, the planters were clean, but bare.

The only place downtown which seemed purposeful were flowers around the bandstand in the Centennial Square which changed from daffodils to zinnias over the course of the summer. Also visible were city-funded flowerpots hanging from light poles.

The city put up flowerpots along the street and made sure the planters were watered as well. Local horticulturist Mike Van Wingerden helped maintain the flowers at the Square.

City Public Works Director Shane Fisher assures the city council the planters are the responsibility of the city, and he was adamant that funds were available for the planters’ eventual contents.

Now if only someone who just decide on pampas grass or tango hyssop.

It is obvious that making the decision to plant is a delicate matter. I’m in favor of perennials that are drought resistant and have lots of color and bloom from May through October.

But which plants do that?

Well, to be fair- there are hundreds and therein lies the rub.

Do we plant daisies? Yes. Do we plant any of the many varies of tansies? Yes. And, do we plant dwarf sunflowers, the city flower? Yes.

Do we involve the local FFA horticulture and 4-H members with the project? Of course, we do.

Will I help with the planting? Yes.

There – problem solved. Let’s just get started with a bit of hummingbird mint.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at

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