The most comprehensive landscape improvement for Hemming Plaza in decades is scheduled to begin today.
In the first phase of the plan, volunteers from Naval Air Station Jacksonville will remove almost all of the existing plants in the landscape beds to make way for new foliage, flowers and shrubs.
Soil amendments will be added, if needed, and the irrigation system will be inspected.
“It’s the most attention the plaza has gotten in a long time. They’re going to take out everything except what’s worth saving,” said Anna Dooley, Greenscape of Jacksonville executive director.
Greenscape of Jacksonville was founded in 1975 with the mission to “clean it up and green it up.” The first project was planting 250 trees along Downtown sidewalks.
Greenscape has since helped install trees, shrubs and plants in hundreds of locations including parks, public schools and along city, state and federal roadways.
“We’ve planted more than 300,000 trees. You can’t go anywhere in Duval County without seeing what Greenscape has done,” said Dooley.
The Late Bloomers Garden Club, the Paul Bryan Group, Downtown Vision, Interline Brands and the city have joined the effort to give Hemming Plaza a makeover in time for the April 9-13 One Spark crowdfunding festival.
“One Spark was the spark” for the timing of the improvement project, Dooley said.
Funding for the landscaping is provided through a $25,000 grant from Wells Fargo.
Katherine Hardwick, Downtown Vision’s director of marketing, said $10,000 has been earmarked for the plaza landscaping and the remainder will be used for additional beautification projects around the plaza.
Interline Brands is donating gardening supplies and the city will perform any repairs needed for the plaza’s irrigation system.
The Paul Bryan Group landscape architecture and design firm is donating its services.
Paul Garwol, Paul Bryan Group president, said the design features flowering plants and foliage including drift roses, Asiatic jasmine, cast-iron plants and ivy.
“It’s a very colorful palette,” he said.
The second phase of the project is scheduled 9 a.m.-noon March 22. Dooley said at least 50 volunteers are needed to install the plants and shrubs. She expects people in the neighborhood and outside the urban core to participate.
“For companies located Downtown, Hemming Plaza is their backyard, but everyone in Jacksonville has a vested interest,” said Dooley.
“We’re going to have fresh dirt and plenty of people. The install will be fun,” Garwol said.
For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, email [email protected].