Beautification efforts brightening downtown
By Samantha Lyles
Members of the City of Darlington Beautification Board and Darlington Garden Club have earned a reputation as tireless advocates for enhancing the city’s appearance, and though the pandemic may have slowed things down a bit, their efforts can still be seen around the community.
“With so many of the garden club’s members being over 60 years old, there really haven’t been any big projects lately,” says Ronda Brown, Darlington Garden Club member and chair of the Beautification Board. “There are a few people working on Hwy 52 (South Main Street) putting out more flowers in the median, and for National Garden Week, they went out and placed mulch at the city entrance sign on Lamar Highway and planted some roses and additional plants.”
Due to health concerns spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beautification Board opted to downsize the traditional spring clean up day from a citywide effort with dozens of volunteers to a smaller green thumb brigade.
“When the stay at home order came in we were not far from clean up day, which the garden club and the city have always worked on together and it’s always been extremely successful for everyone involved. But worrying about exposure to volunteers and garden club members, the Beautification Board decided to do a modified clean up effort with just board members and beautification staff,” says Brown, citing Becky Ishman, Karen Sprott, Myrick Hatcher, and Eliza Zeitlin for their help.
While health concerns will likely prevent any major clean up gatherings in the near future, volunteers have taken on several small projects to brighten and neaten some of the city’s most visible locales. Garden Club member Laura Burns spearheaded efforts to replenish pine straw beds around the Darlington County Courthouse, then finished the beds with bunches of colorful vincas. Also, two benches, a plant pot and trellis have also been installed at the courthouse’s southwest corner by the Darlington County sign.
Sharp-eyed folk might notice that the city’s potted plantings look different this year, with new types of flowers and trees springing up in many locations. Brown says that is by design.
“People have commented over the past few years that it would be nice to see some variety in the plants around downtown, so if you look at the plantings along Pearl Street it’s kind of taken on an experimental role where we try different plants to see what lives, what works and what doesn’t work,” Brown says, noting that some of these experimental blooms are now appearing in pots along South Main Street and around the Public Square.
Other plantings along the Cashua Street walkway – under the wrought iron “Darlington” arch – are thriving as well, and Brown says she’s seen multiple people taking photos with the flowers and signage as a background.
“Given the challenges we’re facing now, I think people have been working really hard to try and give Darlington what they’ve had in the past, as far as keeping things up and making our town look nice,” says Brown.