By Kimberly Kweder
Over 350 residents spent last Saturday sprucing up neighborhoods in the City of Annapolis to celebrate Earth Day and the city’s annual GreenScape program. GreenScape is a community partnership investing in beautification, cleanup and planting in public spaces throughout the city.
It was founded through the efforts of former mayor Ellen Moyer in 1991, and for the last 29 years, hundreds of projects have been initiated and adopted by individuals, schools, churches, and community associations through GreenScape.
Annapolis Recreation and Parks sets a budget for beautification efforts. This year’s $15,000 city-funded budget covers 72 projects in total, according to horticulturist Marisa Wittlinger, who manages the plant materials and meetings.
“Everyone benefits—that’s what’s great about it. The city benefits because we’re improving public spaces … residents get to enjoy these beautiful places that they created,” says Wittlinger.
Each year, GreenScape accepts requests for projects and purchases the plant materials. Each order applicant has a $300 limit. This year, the city provided 2,261 perennials, 57 trees, 35 shrubs, 467 herbs and vegetables, and mulch.
Some of the spring planting projects date back over 10 years.
Ton, a 21-year-old volunteer was helping on the Bay Ridge Avenue “islands” project. Years ago, 13 concrete barricades were installed in the middle of the road to slow down speedy cars. The City of Annapolis originally started plantings on the islands which then became a GreenScape project. Ton said some of the residents have adopted the barricades through a city-funded budget item for beautification efforts.
“Right now the islands are beautiful; they are in full bloom. The rose bushes and crepe myrtles are mature,” Ton said. “We call ourselves the ‘Eastport Island People.’ We tried to find a funny name. Some people even dressed up, one with a bumblebee uniform, during initial GreenScapes.”
Grow Annapolis, a nonprofit community garden project, educates residents on healthy food and uses Eastport Firehouse Gardens as a GreenScape site.
“Thanks to the GreenScape program, Grow Annapolis is able to supply our Eastport Firehouse community garden with 60 bags of Leaf-Gro to keep the vegetable gardens thriving,” writes Beth Santin, a Grow Annapolis gardener.
Signs of GreenScape projects can be found along the Navy Marine Corps Stadium trails, with plantings of tulips and daffodils bursting with color. “It’s fun to drive around and see how the projects look,” Wittlinger said.
In the fall, GreenScape supports national Make a Difference Day, a smaller-scale effort made up of 15 projects where the program gives out tulips and daffodils for volunteers. Volunteers planted 2,525 bulbs in public spaces throughout Annapolis during Make A Difference Day in October 2020.
For more information, visit www.annapolis.gov/GreenScape