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Eugene neighbors divert traffic with flowers and shrubs.

When short-cutting drivers threatened to turn a residential street into a main thoroughfare, one Eugene neighborhood got together to request that the city build traffic diverters. The city agreed to build two islands on their block, with help from community development block grant money. Because the grant included very little money for planting, Kate Rogers Gessert and her neighbors asked that the parks department let them plant and maintain the diverters.

When permission was granted, neighbors chipped in some of their own funds. Local businesses got involved: one donated plants; others gave price breaks on soil amendments and nursery stock for the project.

One Saturday in autumn, about 15 families cam eout for a neighborhood planting party. A family with a pickup truck delivered soil amendment (bought at a discount), which was added to soil provided by the city. Next, the volunteers set out dwarf junipers, India hawthorn, lavender, rosemary, sage, santolina, and other herbs and perennials, then filled in the bare spots with ornamental kale. Neighbors whose houses were closest to the two islands made water available for the plants, while four other families did the watering with hose-end sprinklers.

The next spring, many of the same families came out again to plant more perennials, adding perennial blue flax, mountain bluet, butter-and-eggs (it's becoming a problem), prairie coneflower, as well as self-sowing wildflowers, including California poppy, bird's-eyes, and fiddleneck. They filled in bare spots this time with blue salvia, Chinese forget-me-not, and signet marigolds.

As the permanent plants mature, there will be less need for fill-in plants and summer watering.
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Date:May 1, 1985
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