Maryellen Swanson has proposed a planter redesign in Magnolia. They would be similar to these planters she already has in Queen Anne. Photo by Sarah Radmer
Maryellen Swanson has proposed a planter redesign in Magnolia. They would be similar to these planters she already has in Queen Anne. Photo by Sarah Radmer
 
Garden designer Maryellen Swanson spends a lot of time in Magnolia. Her daughter and business associate live there.

Magnolia’s business district has big cement planters that are overgrown and dead, so Swanson wants to help “beautify” the plants to reflect the high-end area. There are between 10 and 15 city-purchased planters and up to 30 more that were purchased by the merchants, she estimates.

“If they weren’t already there, it’d be a much harder sale,” she said of the planters.

On Feb. 11, Swanson made her presentation to revamp these plants to the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce, and the reception seemed good, she said.

Funding is available through the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Neighborhood Matching Funds. Swanson already has experience with applying for such funding through her work with Picture Perfect Queen Anne (PPQA) and its projects in the neighborhood, like the Galer stairs cleanup. She has existing planters similar to those proposed along Queen Anne Avenue North.

Swanson brought before-and-after examples of the planter pots to the meeting. She plans to keep and prune the existing boxwood trees and add some lush, low-maintenance plants throughout. The plants would come from the Magnolia Garden Center and Swanson’s own garden to cut costs. She would maintain them throughout the year.

“The emphasis would be on hearty, durable perennials,” she said.

Making improvements like this is about aesthetics, but it’s also about economics, Swanson said. In many cases, the dead planters are in front of Magnolia’s high-end restaurants and shops.

“It’s value added,” she said.

If merchants give their approval, Swanson could start cleaning up and planting by the beginning of March. The funding isn’t like a grant and would only take about two days to get. Swanson said she hopes they don’t drag their feet making a decision.

“Queen Anne and Magnolia [have reputations as] two very picturesque, upscale places,” she said. “We did a lot of work [in Queen Anne] to get impression to match reality. Now we can do the same thing in Magnolia.”