Saturday, August 18, 2001

Sunflowers adorn highways

ODOT program has flowers springing up in 12 Ohio counties

The Associated Press

        WARREN, Ohio — Ohio planted sunflowers instead of wildflowers along many of its highways this summer as part of an Ohio Department of Transportation beautification project.

        The plants vary in size from the ones that are so small they haven't even bloomed to those that have reached 4 and 5 feet and have yellow faces that sway as vehicles pass.

        “One of our goals is to make the highways safe and to make them a pleasant trip for travelers when they drive on a state highway,” said ODOT spokeswoman Jennifer Richmond.

        The planting program covers 12 counties and costs just more than $3,000.

        Each county receives a 50-pound bag of sunflower seeds and the county road manager decides the seed's location, Ms. Richmond said.

        The sunflower program is a copy of the popular state wildflower program that began 15 years ago.

        “The wildflowers weren't quite as noticeable,” said Brian Cunningham of ODOT. “But the sunflowers have been catching everyone's eye.”

        Mr. Cunningham said drivers passing by also can recognize the flower instantly.

        Ms. Richmond said the sunflowers also will reseed better. “We hope that the sunflowers will drop its seed and sprout without leaving any gaps.”

        Wildflowers reseed unevenly, which means having to seed vacant spots by hand to keep them looking good, Ms. Richmond said.


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