COVID-19 parks and greenspace

In City Park, fields are blooming with colorful wildflowers

Spring wildflowers are blooming in City Park. (courtesy of New Orleans City Park)

Mid-City residents have an additional reason to visit City Park during the coronavirus restrictions: Fields of wildflowers are now in bloom.

For the sixth year in a row, the park’s horticulture specialists have planted about 600 pounds of seeds over dozens of acres of land, according to Dan Preziosi, the City Park grounds director.

The blossoms can be found in two fields along Marconi, six smaller areas at Big Lake and at the Bayou Oaks golf courses.

The wildflower fields are on low ground that is difficult to mow due to rain-water collecting in the area, areas park horticulturists refer to as “Grow Don’t Mow.”

The fields were planted with cosmos seeds in two varieties: Cosmos Bipinnatus ‘Sensation Mix’ (pink and white flowers) and Cosmos Sulphureus ‘Bright Lights’ (orange and yellow).

“The small areas at Big Lake have other flowers as well,” Preziosi said in a press release,  “Black-Eyed Susan ‘Gloriosa’, Liatris, Salvia Coccinea, Purple Coneflower, Indian Blanket, and Cleome or Spider plant.” The park has also provided specific places for bees to do their important work.

The park’s horticulture department typically sees growth between six and eight weeks after tilling and planting. This year, the fields were seeded just before the stay-at-home mandate was declared. The team typically plants three batches per year, in March, June and September, depending on the weather.

Donations requested

This year, visitors can bring a piece of the park home with them. For a limited time, when a donation is made to New Orleans City Park or Friends of City Park, donors receive wildflower seeds to plant at home.

With its usual revenue streams eliminated or severely reduced, City Park is asking for private donations. “The Park needs your support,” park officials state. “We know these are challenging times for everyone, but if you are able to donate, please do.”

At a time when more people are enjoying City Park than ever before, the park is struggling financially. Since Katrina, City Park has taken an entrepreneurial approach to its operations, park officials state. A rarity among urban public parks, most of its budget is self-generated.

Currently, City Park is supported primarily by the revenue from attractions such as City Putt and Storyland, which are closed, and from events such as weddings and festivals, which have been canceled.

Visit NewOrleansCityPark.com or FriendsofCityPark.com to securely donate to the park online or send a check to 1 Palm Drive, New Orleans, LA 70124. If you would like to speak with someone about a donation, reach out to Casie Duplechain, chief development officer, at 504-483-9437.

Enjoying the wildflowers

The park is playing a vital role helping residents through the pandemic by providing a place for solitary outdoor recreation. While enjoying the park, park officials note, visitors need to follow CDC recommendations for physical distancing and mask usage.

Another reminder: When visiting the wildflower fields, or anywhere else in the park, refrain from picking the flowers. if you want a souvenir of your visit, take a photo.

And if you post your wildflower adventure to social media, use #iheartcitypark to share it with City Park and its friends.

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