Quaker–King–Braddock Intersection Gets Nicer with Native Plants

Before photo by Cathleen Curtin/After photo by Mellenie Runion.

Alexandria Beautification Commission Launches Pilot Effort to Improve City Medians and Public Spaces

Alexandria, VA – June 22, 2018 – On Friday, June 15th, the Alexandria Beautification Commission saw a year’s worth of planning and working with the City of Alexandria come to fruition with the installation of native and sustainable plant material in three medians at the heavily trafficked intersection of King Street, Quaker Lane and Braddock Road.

The Commission initiated the pilot median improvement project in 2017 in an effort to make the City’s medians both more attractive and more sustainable.  The Commission recommended the use of low maintenance, no mow areas in City medians that utilize native and sustainable shrubs and perennial plants. For the past year, the Beautification Commission has been working with the City of Alexandria’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Activities to develop a cohesive landscaping plan for the medians which they hope can serve as a model for beautification of medians throughout the City. Together, their efforts have resulted in a beautiful and well-designed sustainable public space at a busy intersection.

The Alexandria Beautification Commission was elated to see this median project come to completion. When the Commission approached Mayor Allison Silberberg to discuss the project she applauded their focus on improving the City’s medians. The Commission is also looking forward to future projects including updating and improving the gateways to the City with sustainable native plantings — providing a fitting welcome to City visitors and tourists. Mayor Silberberg has been a true voice of support of the Commission’s efforts to continue to beautify the City for public appreciation.

The site at the intersection of King Street, Quaker Lane and Braddock Road was specifically chosen because the existing plantings were not optimal. Some of the plants were not flourishing, others created a hazardous visual barrier for this heavily trafficked area, and some areas had no plantings at all. Photo by Mellenie Runion.

Two Commission members, Monica Jaramillo Murphy and Julie Moore, local landscape designers, led the effort in terms of design and plant selection. They, along with Commission members Carol Maxwell and Cathleen Curtin, have shepherded this project through the City Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities as part of a larger Gateway beautification effort that began in fall of 2014.  Ms. Murphy, assisted by Ms. Moore, chose only native plants for the medians including evergreen and deciduous shrubs, grasses and perennials, as well as groundcover, because, “they are most capable of thriving without the need of too many resources to maintain them. Also, they are tolerant of the exhaust pollution and salt applications during the winter months. And will also nicely support our local ecological system.”  The native plants that were selected include Inkberry, Fothergilla, Little Bluestem, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, and ground covers, such as Carex and native Pachysandra.  The next step in this project is to solicit sponsorship from the business or local citizen community to provide for long-term maintenance of the medians.

This project was important to the Commission, whose mission is to promote the beautification of the City through landscaping, architecture and sustainability.  It showcases the collaborative efforts the City and Commission have put forth into creating a beautiful, yet sustainable, public space. Simply by using native plants as an alternative to grass, which requires an enormous amount of resources such as water, mowing and pesticide application, they have significantly decreased the City’s carbon footprint on the environment.

In the future, the Alexandria Beautification Commission hopes to continue to advise the City and the public on how to improve public spaces through green practices and to demonstrate that beautification and sustainability can work together hand in hand.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for this news. I noticed the planting area at the Braddock-Quaker light this week and wondered who was responsible for this good work. Now I know!

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