You have most likely noticed the beautiful planters that have sprouted up throughout downtown. They were quickly installed and planted in June and July, but have been a project two years in the making for the Black Mountain Beautification Committee.
In 2015 the Black Mountain Beautification Committee knew their next big project was to create a consistent look throughout downtown. After much brainstorming, the idea of the containers was born. The committee knew they had to be easy to maintain, create beautiful focal points year around, able to withstand the elements, be created locally and tie in elements from local artists.
Phase I of the project began with two pilot planters built by Bob Crane and placed on Broadway in front of Tyson’s Furniture. Plants and watering system were tested to see what would produce the best results. One planter was watered from the top only and the second was watered using a SIP (Sub Irrigation Planter) System. Although both did well, it was found that the SIP system could be filled on a once a week schedule which was much easier to maintain.The SIP System is designed to create a reservoir in the bottom of the planter and will hold approximately four gallons of water which gradually wicks up through the soil to water the roots of the stablished plants (hand watering from the top was also required after planting until the roots were established). The reservoir is constructed of a perforated drain pipe which is then covered in landscaping fabric sleeve to prevent soil from entering and clogging the pipe. A 1” PVC pipe attaches to the reservoir and extends up to through the soil to about 2” above the lip of the container. The pipe is capped to prevent mosquito infestation and this cap is easily removed for the reservoir to be filled with water. There is also an ‘overflow’ drain so planters don’t just fill up in the case of heavy rainfall. The Town of Black Mountain has graciously agreed to be responsible for filling the reservoirs each week.
Phase II of the planters began in June and has now been completed with a total of 32 planters gracing Cherry St, Sutton Ave, State St, and Broadway Ave. The planters were constructed of cedar by Walter Tolley and then stained. Each planter is accented with decorative metal “straps” created by three local metal artists, Julia Burr and Dan and Tekla Howachyn. Many aspects were taken into consideration when selecting the location for each planter such as ADA regulations, on-street parking and the opening of car doors, loading zones, current placement of rockers and benches, water meters, flag poles and merchants established flower pots and their desire to have a planter in front of their business. The planters were concentrated on the four streets downtown to create a dramatic impact and consistent look. Additional planters will be added as early as next year which will allow for possible expansion onto other streets as well as increasing the number on current streets, where they will fit.
A subcommittee of the Black Mountain Beautification Committee designed the plants and layout. While every container includes an evergreen centerpiece surrounded by perennials, annuals and bulbs, the actual selection of specific plants were determined
based on which side of the street they are located, sun exposure, water requirements and the individual designer’s preferences. You will notice that many contain similar plants, such as the trailing sweet potato vine and petunias, but are all very individual.
By varying the plant heights, foliage colors and blooms the members have made each container a work of art for residents to enjoy and to welcome visitors year around. Other members of the committee have taken on the responsibility of checking the containers frequently to ensure all plants are thriving, removing any spent plants and addressing any ongoing issues.
The materials and construction of the planters, the decorative iron work as well as all plants for both phases were paid for by the Black Mountain Beautification Committee and the Town of Black Mountain.
But that’s not the end- Phase III is already in the works. After months of waiting, the Town of Black Mountain in coordination with the Beautification Committee was recently awarded a state grant to expand upon the work already started. The Committee will be working closely with the town to determine how to use the money, which will include more planters on downtown streets, benches and trees.