Sylvia Attkisson January 18, 2020
In 1971 the traffic islands were pretty pathetic. No curbs. No trees. Random overgrown Ligustrum shrubs with scruffy Bermuda grass growing up through them. Since they were not curbed any large event in Piedmont Park meant they were handy parking for as many cars as could squeeze on them. The city owned them (still do) and maintained them. This meant mowing them occasionally during summer.
The Ansley Garden Club decided to attempt to improve the island at 17th and Inman Circle. We planned to plant a ring of flowers around the edge. The Garden Club bought flowers—pinks and whites like we planted in our own gardens. A couple of volunteers found the ground so hard digging was like digging in the street! We could not afford mulch so used ground wood chips that Ga Power gave us. There was no water in the island so we ran a hose from a neighbor’s house to water occasionally. Amazingly the flowers did pretty well.
The next year Dan Franklin, one of Atlanta’s first landscape architects, who lived on 17th gave us marigolds along with advice that bright colors would be more effective in that setting. Digging was a little easier because last summer’s woodchips had started breaking down enriching the soil. By the middle of July we had nice color!
Our success emboldened us to expand to 17th and The Prado. We convinced the city to remove the shrubs (what a memory!) and planted Helleri Holly.
With each success interest increased.
Beverly Bradly and Sue Phillips with the city Parks Department started planting, using flowers from the city greenhouses. They also maintained their flowers and they were excellent gardeners so we had beautiful flowers. With their help we expanded to the island at The Prado and Piedmont. Since we could not remove all the grass there we decided to create a flower circle in the middle of the grass. Beverly and Sue found abandoned bricks from the city incinerator and used them to create an edge for our flower bed. These bricks are still there. They are also in the island at The Prado/ South Prado.
Beverly and Sue realized we were limited if we could not water. They got the city to install water meters and the Civic Association paid for irrigation parts which Beverly and Sue installed. Our first irrigation system was at Prado and Piedmont. Given that success we started installing irrigation in more of the islands we were maintaining and with our success that number grew.
Finally in the mid 80’s we realized we needed curbs for the islands’ protection from rogue parking as well as to make them look better. The city installed curbing.
All of this was taking place before the creation of the Beautification Foundation (’83). All island activity was done by the city and Garden Club volunteers with funding from the Civic Association.
When the Beautification Foundation came into being it became more involved with the islands, taking over many responsibilities from the Civic Association. But the city was still planting with flowers from the city greenhouses and maintenance was by city personnel.
Beautification was by then planting trees in the parks as well as the islands.
In the late ’80’s the city decided it would no longer maintain any city property that is smaller than 1/4 acre. Which meant our traffic islands would no longer receive city support.
The Civic Association agreed to continue buying flowers as they had always done to be planted by volunteers from the Garden Club. They also agreed to share funding for maintenance with the fledgling Beautification Foundation. This is the arrangement that continues today.
Ansley Park Civic Association - P.O. Box 77125, Atlanta, GA 30309