Wildflowers blossom as result of City Park experiment

Published: Jun. 16, 2014 at 9:59 PM CDT
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A stunning new spot to take family photos and engagement pictures will be in bloom at City Park for a month.

An experiment by the horticulture staff and the park's CEO Bob Becker brought fields of wildflowers.

"The soundtrack is like a summer night," said City Park visitor Nina Smith as she walked her Boston Terrier puppies on a cut path through the wildflower patch on Monday. "You can hear all the crickets and the bugs, it's a patch of peacefulness in the city."

The vibrant look of a prairie, tall enough for dogs to disappear in and serene as a dream, was an experiment.

"For us, because we've never done this on this scale before, it's a learning process for our horticulture staff," said Becker.

On a mission to provide spaces of beauty that draw visitors to City Park, Bob Becker's staff said he has poured his heart into the wildflowers.

He seeded the first patch one year ago, and he has constantly monitored the progress of the park's second patch since staff began tilling the ground in preparation in March.

"You know for a while, when we didn't have any rain and we just had heat, it wasn't coming up," said Becker. "So, we were worried, I was probably the one worried, you know, 'It isn't coming up. Why isn't it coming up'?"

However, with a bit of rain and 200 pounds of wild southeastern oriental wildflower mix, a field of opportunity blossomed for anyone looking for a brilliant backdrop.

"We have people stopping to paint it, we have people stopping for their Christmas pictures, engagement pictures, people putting their children in here to take their pictures," said Becker.

Monday, a groom from Nashville, Tenn. even dared his bachelor party to frolic through the flowers.

"If I lived in New Orleans, this is where I would do my engagement photos. For sure," said the groom, Matt Harb.

Over time, Becker expects other colors to sprout through the orange sea, so the second patch will more like the first.

"I think this is fun. To me, this is one of the really fun parts of the job," said Becker.

It is all part of a wildflower experiment. It saves the park areas where maintenance crews have to mow, but most importantly, it shocks the green space with a pallet of color for everyone to enjoy.

"When you do something that is relatively easy, has this much impact, and gets so many people talking about it, you have to feel good. And we do, we feel terrific about what has happened here," said Becker.

The wildflower patches are at the corner of Roosevelt Mall and Marconi St. by the park's administration building.

Becker said he expects the orange wildflower patch to stay in bloom for about a month. Then, the staff hopes the patch will reseed itself and bloom again by the end of the summer before hibernating for the fall and winter.

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