There's been a dramatic change in the landscape along the 5100 block of Delmar, see above. Following the planting of thousands of sunflower seeds in May by a team of hard-working volunteers, it's suddenly possible to wander among the flowers in a block that had until May been mostly a barren stretch of vacant land. Though the parcel lies just east of the Glass Factory, which has enjoyed such great success and attracted huge crowds, it has sat idle for many years. The transformation was spearheaded by Alderman Lyda Krewson along with her Sunflower Team, Richard Reilly of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Don Koster, WU School of Architecture, Jim Dwyer, Central West End Association, Doug Auer, Third Degree Glass Factory, and Mike Owens, whose efforts earned him the nickname, "Dirt Farmer J."
The Delmar + Sunflower Project was accomplished in association with the Land-Lab Project, a collaboration between the city of St. Louis and Washington University, and was funded in part by contributions from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Garden Club.
Six months ago it would have seemed implausible to think that we would be enjoying a Sunday evening happy hour at the site, but that's exactly what occurred last evening. Those who attended the event were knocked out by what had taken place in such a short time. The block is now stunningly beautiful and oh so quiet.
Not all of the plants are blooming yet, but most of the ones that are face slightly northeast. I learned last evening that the flowers lock in place when the sun hits the blooms as they first open. Wherever the sun is when that occurs, that's the direction the blooms continue to face.
Several neighborhood children found the mulch pile hugely attractive.
Cabanne Schlafly Howard and daughter Isabelle presented a photo op for Abigail Reid (in blue) and Molly Hirsch (in hat).
Several city officials showed up to help celebrate the occasion, including Jennifer Florida, former alderman of the 15th Ward and recently appointed Recorder of Deeds, Alderman Shane Cohn of the 25th Ward, Christine Ingrassia of the 6th Ward, Don Roe, Director of Planning and Urban Design, and Steven Gregali, Special Assistant to Mayor Slay. Ingrassia and Cohn mentioned they would like to take this idea to their own neighborhoods. Both Mary Lou Green of Operation Brightside and CWEnder Tracy Boaz from the Missouri Department of Conservation were there too.
It's interesting that this project has brought such a wide variety of people together to work for the betterment of the neighborhood. Each of us left the celebration with a sunflower and a desire to return often and check the progress of the Sunflower + Delmar Project. Lyda and her team should be commended for an amazing change to the landscape, which in turn has changed the perception of a block on Delmar.