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Flowers are blooming throughout the district

Downtown Providence is already blooming again! Watch WPRI’s recent story about the Providence Downtown Improvement District’s flower program, featured on The Rhode Show, here!

Now in its 6th season, the DID’s planting program has expanded with more hanging baskets, new flowers, and new designs. The DID has planted 274 hanging baskets, 9 open planting areas and 60 sidewalk planters, and will maintain them throughout the season. The pop of color is unmistakable, with purple scaevola and orange and yellow lantana, plus orange geraniums along the waterfront accented with lime green hanging potato vines.

DID Operations Manager Frank Zammarelli and his 6-member crew, wearing bright yellow uniforms, will continue to water the flowers 6 days per week. They use pressure washers adjusted to lighter settings and gentle extended wands attached to large water tanks on open-backed trucks. This season, a newly purchased Ford F350 truck will be a time-saver, allowing them to store and move larger loads of mulch, loam, and flowers. Zammarelli praises his team, commenting that “they are well-trained, take pride in their jobs, and put in a great deal of effort.” 

He explains that “It takes experience to select the right plants and to learn which flowers thrive in the downtown climate.” In previous seasons, several petunias in the hard-to-reach hanging baskets were damaged by insects. Now, those flowers are only placed in the ground-level planting areas, which are easier to keep up. He adds that “If the right plants are chosen and they’re maintained properly, they can last well into October, as they did last season.” When designing the gardens, he takes issues of light, shade, and traffic visibility into consideration, and he stays mindful of the project budget.

In addition to the high-impact planting work, the DID clean and safe teams are also responsible for picking up trash and removing graffiti throughout the district year-round. In order to continue providing those services while also focusing on the plantings, the DID hires temporary summer help to do the regular litter patrol. While it’s a challenge to juggle multiple projects and maintain a beautiful program of such a large magnitude, Zammarelli and his staff enjoy it.

Generous support from a wide variety of local sponsors has enabled the DID program to expand significantly in recent years. To maintain the program at this highly visible level, the DID is seeking additional funds throughout the summer. For further information on sponsorships, large or small, please contact Frank LaTorre, DID Director of Public Space at (401) 421-4450.