Thursday, March 25, 2004

Flowers add more color to purple bridge

Volunteers spruce up planting beds to bring splash of spring to pedestrian crossing

By Travis Gettys
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Barbara and Glenn Redmer, of the Greater Cincinnati Master Gardener Association, plant flowers along the Newport approach to the Purple People Bridge.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
NEWPORT - Despite their wimpy reputation, pansies might be the hardiest flower around.

Clusters of lavender and yellow flowers that survived the winter were joined by 30 more flats of the frost-tolerant blooms when volunteers from the Greater Cincinnati Master Gardener Association arrived Wednesday at the Purple People Bridge.

The gardeners pulled out dried flowers and weeds from more than 60 planters along the pedestrian bridge and poured in black topsoil.

"We're just pulling out last year's plants and we're replacing them," said Brenda Zerby of Bridgetown, as a couple strolled past with their young children.

Some planters are filled with soil-less mix to reduce their weight on the span, said team leader Sue Sturgeon of Edgewood, and no mulch will be used.

"By the time it's done, there's no soil showing," Sturgeon said. "With annuals, you can do that and they'll take over."

In addition to the fresh pansies, the volunteers planted shrubs at the foot of the bridge to reduce the number of flowers needed to cover the beds.

"We're trying to get what we call 'bones' in there," said Maryan Hahn of Delhi Township.

Boxwoods and ornamental grasses will establish a rhythm in the planters along the bridge, Sturgeon said, and in May an undulating grass garden will take shape in an elevated railroad bed.

Across the river in Cincinnati, Bruce Murray of Newport plants pansies in containers installed in the weeks before Tall Stacks.

Hobbling between the planters with a cast on his injured foot, Murray said he sees about 200 people cross the bridge in the hour between noon and 1 p.m.

"Normally I run across the bridge every day," he said.

Plans are under way to transform the area cars once used to access the bridge from Pete Rose Way into a hillside with landscaping, Murray said.

"That will be, I guess, our fall project," he said.

Through the growing season, Newport Southbank Bridge Co. is responsible for watering the plants on both sides of the river, Sturgeon said, and volunteers take care of the weeds.

"We have someone here every week," Sturgeon said.


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