Spring has sprung in downtown Green Bay
By Brooke Hafs
GREEN BAY – As the temperature starts to creep up, so are plants throughout downtown Green Bay.
Walking down the sidewalks you’ll notice new growth in various places for visitors, residents and even insects to enjoy.
The Broadway District
Each year, Justin Kroening, owner of Stone Silo Prairie Gardens, is tasked with sprucing up the space beneath the trees on Broadway and creating an environment that will attract pollinators.
“The goal is to get the beds full of plants and be maintenance free,” Kroening said. “We want to choose native plants that offer nectar for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.”
There are a total of 42 tree boxes throughout the Broadway District.
Kroening said he plans to fill these spaces with orange milkweed, metal blazing star, smooth penstamin, coneflowers and more.
He said he even planted a cactus that is native to Wisconsin called the eastern prickly pear cactus.
“Plants and foliage soften the hard edge of the urban streetscape and create a welcoming atmosphere for people to enjoy the outdoor spaces in the Broadway District,” Quincy Fassbender, program manager for On Broadway, Inc., said.
Kroening said the native perennials were planted in fall of 2020.
He said it takes three years to establish these types of plants.
Kroening said once their taproot takes hold, they help with drainage issues and to eliminate weeds.
He also emphasizes the importance of creating habitats for pollinators.
“We have taken away so much of their habitat,” he said. “There is so much concrete and turf grass. If we can make these areas for them, we can create a corridor for them to stop and pick up food along their travels.”
Fassbender said maintenance on the tree beds in the Broadway District will continue in the final weeks of May, as more plants emerge from the ground.
Annual blooms coming soon
As we watch perennials come back to life, the annuals aren’t far behind.
In the next few weeks, new blooms will be planted in all three downtown district planters.
The Plant People, located on 931 Main St., are responsible for the array of colorful annuals you’ll see as you walk downtown Green Bay.
“We love to plant happiness,” Sheila Hansen, with The Plant People, said. “Plants make you feel good. They make you smile as you walk along these downtown areas.”
Hansen said you can’t be hasty with annuals.
She said it is all weather dependent, and gardeners have to make sure there aren’t any nights that fall below freezing or they’ll die.
Hansen said she estimates the weather could be ready in the next few weeks.
There are 51 planter bowls in the Broadway District, 38 planters on Main Street and 34 planters in the Downtown District.
There will also be 24 baskets hung on Washington and Walnut Streets.
“The district’s planters are an enormous part of downtown’s first impression,” Jeff Mirkes, executive director for Downtown Green Bay, Inc. and Olde Main Street, Inc., said. “We pride ourselves on a bright and welcoming downtown for everyone. And thanks to Olde Main Street’s very own, The Plant People, and their hard work and expertise, the entire community gets to enjoy the beautiful masterpieces they create and maintain. The planters are a great example of how downtown embodies Green Bay’s artistic and creative spirit even in the colder months.”
Hansen says they plan to fill all of these planters and hanging baskets with a colorful arrangement of annuals and tropicals.
She said the wave petunias are a popular annual flower that makes it into planters each year.
Broadway & Beyond with Brooke Hafs, brings readers stories on businesses, residents, ideas and events, as she serves as the eyes, ears and ‘word’ of Green Bay’s booming downtown.