Fortunately, no one has snuck any unwanted or foreign plants into downtown Lincoln's planter beds. Urban landscaping is a very strategic process and only some plants can survive Nebraskan spring's unforgiving nature.
Spring cleaning conjures many images to mind. Open windows invite in cool air as furniture is shuffled and floors are swept. It is a good productive feeling as the mess of winter is removed.
Lincoln’s downtown goes through a similar process. Unless you are paying close attention you wouldn’t know that Downtown’s planter beds are going through several stages of cleaning right now. The end of winter is an important time for removing debris from all the beds as different flowers have decided to sprout early this year. It is now a race against time as sprouts of grass and budding trees. This kind of spring cleaning is downtown #GreenTeam's business, and business is a bloomin’.
What to Expect
Spring bulbs are the first to pop. This includes tulips and daffodils. You will also notice some interesting aromas as some of the trees and shrubs bud. Some smell very sweet and others like dirty socks. Beauty is pain.
DLA wanted to know what strategy and planning goes on behind the scenes as we approach the summer months. To find out Downtown sat down with Brian Munk from Downtown Lincoln’s maintenance team who is an arborist and expert when it comes to urban landscaping and flora. Here is what he said:
“Radiant heat from buildings actually brings early blooming to downtown. This is a blessing and a curse as Nebraska can still get bitter cold at night hurting those plants that have sprung early."
In a quick translation, bulb plants like tulips and daffodils will be the first to emerge. Lilac trees are budding and will pop near the end of May.
It was hard to get a definite answer to spring emergence due to the many variables that exist with planting in a large urban setting. Brian went into detail on building size and how even traffic can even have an effect on what grows.
DLA also asked what is most exciting about this spring’s flora and fauna.
“DLA is a certified urban arboretum and we take what we plant and bring downtown very seriously. We also recognize that we are a prairie state and so we like to use native plants. We don’t need to make foreign plants survive. It’s not cost effective and the money can be used better for annuals that bring a very beautiful color spectrum downtown.”
Brian was also very excited about the diversity of plants that will be sprouting downtown this year.
“Plant communities work well just like people. A diverse group adds character and can make big changes with small additions. We have been experimenting a bit and found a very nice mix this year.”
Spring cleaning and downtown green life is much different than your garden or home. You can’t control everything that happens downtown. There are just some things you can’t predict. Downtown’s Green Team has done an amazing job over the years keeping up with flowers, shrubs, trees and other plants. Work that would go unnoticed otherwise. So, next time you see a flower that has been hit by the sun just right, know that it was intentional and every bit a part of the downtown ecosystem as much as the cement sidewalk you are walk on.