"We've made a vacant lot that people thought was an eyesore into a head-turner," said Reilly.
The project's organizers hope the flowers will do more for the neighborhood than add a field of golden color.
The flowers mean environmental and, potentially, economic benefits that could spur revitalization of the beleaguered neighborhood, they say.
Reilly said that he and Koster "share the view that redevelopment is the best use for vacant urban lots and that projects like Sunflower + can be a valuable interim effort to bring beauty and attention to the potential of the lots."
The Sunflower + Project, developed by the pair, is one of five ongoing projects of the
The others are a restaurant and culinary incubator made from shipping containers, a chess pocket park on
The contest was held to find and test creative, new and sustainable ways to re-use the lots at relatively little cost.
Krewson came up with the idea of planting sunflowers at the Delmar site between
"Once this stretch of Delmar was a thriving residential community with hundreds of residents -- today it sits vacant, forgotten and forlorn," Krewson wrote to her neighborhood when she was seeking volunteers.
Before the seeds could be planted, volunteers cleared the site of rubble and prepared the soil.
About 75 volunteers, ages 5 to 75, showed up
The tall flowers with bobbing yellow heads that now grace the site are attracting thousands of bees, lured by the flowers' sweet nectar, as well as other admirers.
"They're so-oo beautiful," said
"To me, a sunflower means happiness," Hua said. "Happiness comes to those who are always positive. Don't ever give up. ... Have hope and dreams. Keep your head up high, just like the sunflowers."
As summer winds down, finches and cardinals are likely to visit. Eventually, the sunflowers' seeds will be harvested for next year and the field will be replanted with winter wheat.
Although this is the first year for the Delmar sunflowers, it's the second for the Sunflower + Project. Last year, 1,800 sunflowers brightened a section of
The project added to the re-invigoration of one of the city's oldest neighborhoods with the assistance of Old North neighbors and people from throughout the region, Reilly said.
Krewson believes the new sunflower plot on Delmar has given the neighborhood pride. "The real question to be answered is: Is this something we could do on more lots in the city, on some scalable level to make people think differently about their neighborhoods?" Krewson said. "How inspiring is this? I think it's very inspiring!"
Eventually, she'd like to see the land redeveloped with housing. For now, the Delmar sunflowers are enjoying their days in the sun.
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