Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

The Lexington Boulevard Beautification Project takes root

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

Quentin Nguyen bought his home just north of the Como Golf Course four years ago, and he has a vision for his neighborhood. He calls this vision, “the Lexington Boulevard Beautification Project.” It will extend along Lexington Pkwy. between Larpenteur and Montana avenues, and he is ready to get it growing.

Nguyen planted his own half-block stretch of boulevard along Lexington with the perennial blooming flower Liatris (blazing star), a few years ago. The plant, which will form a sea of purple spikes when it blooms in July, has filled Nguyen’s boulevard. “I have never felt remorse for having dug out all that grass,” he said.

Nguyen has been going door to door encouraging neighbors to do the same. The vision is that each of the property owners (two on each side of five blocks for a total of 23 houses and two businesses) will eventually replace their boulevard grass with native, perennial plants for the benefit of local bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. “The blooming boulevards may even become a traffic-calming measure,” he said.

Photo right: Quentin Nguyen in front of his Liatris boulevard planting. He said, “The feedback I’ve received has been very positive. No one has shown any opposition to the idea of the Lexington Boulevard Beautification Project because it benefits everybody.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

So far, Nguyen has received verbal confirmation from nine of his 20 neighbors that they’re on board. They claim they’re ready to remove their grass and commit to planting one of the 16 varieties of plants Nguyen has selected as suitable.

Because each of the lots is technically a corner lot, they must all abide by the 18” plant height maximum set by the City of St. Paul. The goal is to have boulevards that are early, mid and late season blooming, so there will be big splashes of color along the boulevard from May thru September.

“Who wouldn’t want to make Lexington Pkwy. a more inviting corridor into Como Park?” Nguyen said, “Through Nextdoor and Facebook, I’ve already had almost a dozen people say they would like to volunteer with cutting sod and planting flowers. Como Park Lutheran Church has offered the services of their youth program. Right now, more than anything, I want to get the word out that we’re doing this project that will be good for the environment and good for the neighborhood—neighbors helping neighbors.”

Photo left: One of Nguyen’s many eye-catching yard projects is his vertical garden fence. He said, “A couple of years ago, I had a job at a nearby convenience store. One of our customers came in all the time and bought cases of 7-UP in one-liter green plastic bottles. After a while, I asked him if I could have those bottles. I told him I had an ugly fence that needed improving, and now I plant lettuce and herbs this way every year.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Nguyen continued, “I have a little bit of a reputation around here as a gardener; people know they can trust me. They believe that I’ll help put these gardens in and that I won’t disappear afterward. If a homeowner or renter isn’t able to care for their boulevard garden, I’ll find a volunteer who can. The beauty of each boulevard just having one type of native perennial is that the plants will grow densely, and the weeds won’t be much of a problem. Once they’re established, the boulevards should be considerably less work than grass.”

For more information on this project, visit the Como Park Facebook page or Nextdoor for the Como neighborhood. Nguyen can also be reached at quentinqnguyen@gmail.com with questions.

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