Reference Desk Include

Beautification commission enhances City with colorful flowers and plants

Beautification Commission
As you cruise through the city of Northville … on foot, on bike or by car … your eye is likely drawn to the colorful pots of flowers and in-ground plantings that grace every street in the downtown area and the entrances to this 149-year-old city.

Teams of pink t-shirt-clad volunteers who belong to the City of Northville Beautification Commission (BC) get the plantings done every spring and maintain them throughout the growing season. Their work is supplemented by the DDA in the downtown district and by local businesses that create eye-popping displays of flowers and plants, often set against a backdrop of well-tended shrubs and trees.

You may have noticed the begonias at Hutton and Main between Long’s and the Presbyterian Church, the juniper and sedum berm near Rural Hill cemetery, and the hostas and roses that grace the gazebo in Rotary Park next to the water wheel.

The color scheme and plants are chosen by DDA director Lori Ward and BC Chair Diane Pittaway. Members on the commission … 13 currently … plant flowers and maintain the larger plantings that grace the city spring through fall.

The BC takes on a special project each year. This year, on Sept. 12, a team of nine was digging in the dirt at the median along N. Center St., south of 8 Mile to extract weeds, add fabric guard and fresh mulch to ward off new weeds, then reposition the plants. Refreshing tired areas is a labor of love that these gardeners relish.

Beautification Commission
The BC works closely with the DDA and Department of Public Works to get all the plantings completed and maintained. Both cover the cost of flowers, which are purchased from local vendors. The DDA does the watering and the DPW supplies boulders, mulch, equipment and transport. The DDA manages the planters on the Town Square and other public spaces.

“When you’re in the city, it’s more enjoyable to see greenery and flowers rather than all concrete,” Pittaway said.

As BC president, Pittaway sets the planting dates and asks members of the commission to sign up for times and places that work for them as teams or individually. Often, when passersby see the BC crews working in a landscaped area, they will say “thank you.” Some even tell them that they copied the color scheme or flower choice in their own gardens.

“Flowers make Northville look inviting and it inspires people to be creative in their own gardens,” Pittaway said. “It makes a statement to residents and visitors that says, ‘We welcome you.’”

Quality of life through gardening and plantings

Each spring, the BC assists with giving free seedlings to residents to plant as part of a broader effort to increase the tree canopy in southeastern Michigan. In 2016, 1,400 seedlings were handed out.

Members of the commission also belong to the Beautification Council of Southeastern Michigan and can attend quarterly meetings to learn from other members and hear guest speakers talk about trends in gardening and environmental news.

Gardening trends for cityscapes include planting natural grasses and native plants at the entrances of subdivisions, and using rain gardens to funnel rain water through carefully positioned plants so very little excess water goes down the drain.

“It ends up being easier to take care of and still gives us the beauty of the outdoors that adds quality to our life,” Pittaway said.

The commission will be 50 years as an organization in February 2017. Julie Mantay, former chair of the commission, has long ties to the group because her mother Barbara O’Brien was one of the founding members. (O’Brien passed away in July 2016.)

“So many in the group really take their job to heart,” noted Pittaway. “They work together and often bring guest workers. They have this generous spirit and ask, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to do this for the community?’”

Keeping that spirit of community involvement in mind, those interested in serving on the commission can contact the City Manager’s office at 248.349.1300.



Back to News