Each spring the streetscapes around the globe come alive with people, festivals, concerts and food. In my opinion, the unsung hero’s in any streetscape are the city planters. Like the passenger and pedestrian amenities, people see them daily, sometimes use them and are unclear about the role they play in everyone’s daily lives. City planters are my streetscape hero’s because the plants and flower that they contain brings immense pleasure to pedestrians and motorist alike. Filled with colorful plants and flower, they display amazing beauty, creates an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming and provides a unique sensory experience.
City planters, also known as plant containers or receptacles are versatile, movable and are without ego. They’re also known as planters, flower pots or plant pots; bowl, vases, vessels and Jardiniere – a French word for planter. They can be left in one place or moved to many different locations during their life span. In fact, the ability to transport plants and flowers to indoor and outdoor locations between the seasons is one of their historical strengths. However, the relocation of large street planters is rare today given their size and weight.
Flower pots were historically made of terra cotta, but today can be made of concrete, cast stone, fiberglass; metal, plastic or wood. Street planters are available in a variety of shapes – primarily bowls, rounds, squares, rectangles; semi-circle and triangles. Some smaller rectangular planters are also known as flower boxes – aka window box, window flower box or window box planters. Planter boxes are typically placed under windows, on walls, decks, patios, side walks or hung from fencing or rails. And if you’re interested in creative planters, almost any type of container can be converted into a flower pot – an old wheel -barrow, buckets, tires, washing machines or bathtub, if tastefully done.
City planters are also my streetscape hero’s because they get abused in their public settings. They’re designed to hold soil, nutrients, plants and flowers, but in a typical day receive paper trash, cans, cigarette butts and other unmentionable items. The plants and flower grown in the planters are typically hand watered, but they also received stale soda, beer, coffee and other types of liquids in need of a readily available repository. Although I must confess that during some of the dry summer months, they’re probably really thirsty and are willing to accept any liquid they receive. Hopefully, sub irrigated planter inserts and modules will change that dynamic. If they’re large enough, they’re sat upon and if placed too close to the street in wet or snowy climates receive an unrelenting bath of rain runoff and winter road slush. And they’re rarely cleaned.
But they keep on providing us with colorful plants and flower, dazzling beauty, a welcoming atmosphere and a unique sensory experience.