Our Horticulture Crew creates and maintains beautiful display gardens along with maintaining landscape elements from tulip gardens and pollinator corridors to our Deering Oaks rose garden and downtown planters.
The Rose Circle is located in Deering Oaks Park. Portland’s Parks Engineer William Dougherty designed the circular garden in the early 1930’s. Roses were not part of the original plan. Karl Switzer, Parks Superintendent (1939-1972) transformed the area into the Rose Circle. We use Earth Kind: Earth-Kind® Roses, they do not receive any application of fertilizer, pesticides, or irrigation.
Every year the horticulture crew plants thousands of tulip bulbs in designated flower beds through Portland’s parks. 8500 Tulip bulbs were planted throughout 14 beds in the year 2019 by 3 people. This happens late October to early November (weather dependent).
Portland has 15 flower beds that are planted with annual flowers. Planting begins early June (weather permitting) and lasts for 1-2 weeks. Fessenden Park has nine flower beds and is the premier display garden for Portland. There are also two beds in Deering Oaks, two on the Western Promenade, one at Longfellow Monument, and one at Loring Memorial. The Horticulture Crew also displays 14 circular granite planters, 40 plastic planters, two urn shaped planters at City Hall, and one Clock planter at One City Center. They are planted around Memorial Day and are maintained through the October Holiday.
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Portland has perennial gardens and green spaces throughout the city which also require seasonal maintenance from the Horticulture crew. Shrubs and small trees require pruning, beds require weeding and mulching, and some plants need to be divided as they grow. Occasionally a new garden bed is installed all together and when this happens we focus on selecting native species and cultivars of plants.
Naturalized meadows and wildflower spaces have experienced resurgence recently as people rethink how to benefit native flora and fauna by dedicating green space to their habitat. Portland Parks and Recreation has been collaborating with various organizations, such as the Maine Audubon Society, to encourage the transition of once-mowed grass areas to naturalized meadows. Both the East end, and West end of the Portland peninsula have meadow area and a new meadow is under development in Franklin Street.
We work together with other City Departments to help clear snow from the Portland fire stations, police station, schools, parks, and sidewalks. The horticulture crew starts pruning shrubs and small trees during late fall after perennial cutbacks are complete. We work through different parks and gardens to improve landscapes and clean out overgrown areas. This includes removing invasive species, pruning back overgrown and damaged woody plants. It is also an ideal time for corrective pruning on small trees along the city streets which will benefit their structure in the long run.
Horticulture staff collaborates on projects with students at Portland Schools on educational projects. Some of the projects include restoring wildlife areas to Deering Oaks with King Middle School, orchard pruning with students at PATHS, maintenance of meadow lands, and teaching about invasive species at Riverton School. These projects educate students about the natural spaces around them while giving them a sense of inclusion and ownership. City staff meets with various groups of gardeners to create shared visions for park spaces and to educate them on what we do as City Horticulturists.