It may seem a bit odd to insert a post on landscaping at this time of year, but if you're like me and looking for a bit of good news in the midst of more serious matters that have captured the headlines for months, I thought you might enjoy the diversion as well.
Several months ago I stumbled upon racks of plant materials on site at BJC's The Commons at Clayton and Boyle Avenues in the Cortex District. Since that initial visit the barren landscape has been planted with materials that will, according to Landscape Architect Hunter Beckham of SWT Design, withstand urban conditions and provide seasonal interest. While Hunter emailed that he thought my use of the term "rain gardens" was a much more pleasant sounding term, the systems are known as "bio-retention systems" or "green infrastructure."
Cortex, bounded by Hwy 64/Clayton Avenue to the south and Forest Park Avenue to the north is, like many areas of the CWE, enjoying a building boom. Witness IKEA popping up on Vandeventer, the brand-new Shriner's Hospital nearing completion at the southern end of the BJC campus, numerous apartment units under construction, as well as buildings undergoing adaptive reuse for a major development that was initiated in 2002 as an "innovation hub of bioscience & technology, research, development & commercialization."
When I asked 17th Ward Alderman Joe Roddy for information on this infrastructure project, he put me in touch with Karin Hagaman, Director of Project Development at Cortex. Karin in turn introduced me to Hunter Beckman of SWT Design. Hunter said that his company went through a thorough design-development process that began two years ago. While this is SWT Design's first project in the CWE, they have designed projects in the St. Louis area for almost twenty years.
SWT Designs worked with two civil engineering companies as well as MSD to ensure that the final installation of both the sewer infrastructure and the "rain gardens" satisfied current best management practices. He said the impact of this effort will help improve both the water quantity entering the system and the waterquality moving through the area and into our waterways.
Handsome steel walls installed throughout the "park" elevate aesthetics while improving the overall movement of water. The combination of extensive plantings and the steel retaining walls will become an attractive amenity in the neighborhood.
The pavement pattern in the middle area, shown above, mimics strands of DNA. The idea for the pattern came out of stakeholder meetings early in the development process.
Besides seasonal bloom, environmental adaptability and texture also played into the choice of plant materials.
The bio-retention system at BJC The Commons should be completed by next spring.
SWT Design also designed the streetscapes surrounding @4240 Duncan, above, which are lined with areas of bio-retention, above and below.
Cortex District has the advantage of being a development that practically "started from scratch," so that fact, coupled with generous funding, has made it easier to adopt what were at one time common-sense drainage practices, and turned them into something new once again.
CWEnder Anabeth Weil, founder of The Flora Conservancy of Forest Park, asked if I'd publicize the ornaments the not-for-profit organization is selling to help fund its park maintenance projects. You may not be aware that a fabulous team of volunteers plants and maintains floral displays throughout the park in partnership with the St. Louis Parks Department. Volunteers assist with the beautiful landscape installations at the Jewel Box, Pagoda Circle (in front of The Muny), Murphy Lake (on Lindell between Union and Kingshighway), and many other sites throughout our beautiful Forest Park.
Ornaments include "The Apothesis of St. Louis," photographed above, and
"The Jewel Box," $15 each. The ornaments, packaged in a gold foil gift box, are available at the Parks Administration Building (near the city greenhouses) and the Jewel Box, shown in the background.
Finally, if you're itching to dig in the dirt, and want to contribute to maintaining the beauty of Forest Park, consider volunteering. Volunteer teams gather on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and/or Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. throughout the year - even in late winter. Find more information on the Flora Conservancy's website.
We had an absolutely bumper crop of over 10,000 bright yellow sunflowers. A Big Success by any measure. The yellow Finches and Doves have eaten almost every seed. We did harvest some so we can create the garden again next year. I hope you are ‘up’ for it again.
This Saturday morning we are going to pull out the plants and send them to a composter. We will begin at 9… Come pull a few plants, and enjoy a Hot Spiced Cider or Coffee with friends. Bring your gloves and a neighbor –
Many thanks from the “Delmar Sunflower Team”. Come have fun in the dirt with us… 51xx Delmar…
Richard Reilly – Missouri Botanical Gardens
Don Koster – Washington University School of Architecture
Jim Dwyer – Central West End
Doug Auer – Third Degree Glass
Lyda Krewson – 28th Ward Alderman
Mike Owens – Dirt Farmer J
Thanks to Land Lab, Washington University, St Louis City, Mo Botanical Gardens, Mo Dept of Conservation and many many Volunteers !!