Guerilla Gardening with vines

Submitted by Susan Miller on Sat, 04/12/2008 - 15:22.

As you roll down the portage escarpment on Quincy Avenue, you pass a large brick structure with no windows; it is covered with Virginia Creeper. (ahem - I mean the windows are all busted out; they're long gone.) I love this building. I imagine it retrofitted as a place for indoor hydroponic gardens and a food market. Keep going and you’ll cross a new bridge with its requisite tall arching chainlink fence. I imagine planting vines on this so that as you cross the bridge you pass through a green tunnel in the warmer months.

In fact, there are lots of places where a chainlink fence could be aesthetically improved with vines. I have had these thoughts regarding Steelyard Commons and the fence behind it that borders the Towpath Trail. What’s up with trees in the SYC parking lot? Per SYC, whatever happened with this plan?

The idea of planting vines is not purely aesthetic from my viewpoint. Just to clarify, I think green is better than chainlink any day visually, but more importantly we need more oxygen manufacture and more plants to slow stormwater's rush to our waterways.

If it was me, I would plant the whole parking lot with a massive pergola of vines to slow rainfall, consume CO2 and emit oxygen.  I would prefer to have my car parked under a shady blooming pergola than in the sun most any hot midday in NEO. Haven't you noticed how the spots that have shade are always taken in shopping area parking lots? Not just the ones with dogs awaiting their owner's return.

I have been researching softpath methods for reducing the negative impacts of stormwater.  I have been harping on this for a couple of years and wishing to hear some good news about some small things we can do to improve our water quality and deal with stormwater. This is a small thing that, in addition to the aforementioned, would also help to reduce the heat island effect at SYC. As evidenced at the NACWA Conference here a few months ago, Cleveland seems woefully behind the curve when it comes to LID (Low Impact Development) and softpath methods of stormwater management.

New buildings that are being designed for the rebuilt New Orleans are using wires for vine growing to shade and reduce energy costs in that warm climate. We could learn from that example.

I know Virginia Creeper is native to NEO and also Passion Flower (really showy!). The FWHA lists Trumpet Vine among the natives to use in highway planting.

Also, Trumpet Vine attracts hummingbirds and other birds with its showy flowers -- something SYC could use. The eastern bank planted in vetch, clover, milkweed and native grasses would be less mower intensive than trying lawn grass there and more butterfly friendly.

This is just a relatively easy to implement suggestion for a bloomin' garden of earthly delights instead of a prison-like enclosure for hikers and cyclists as well as those who have to visit the store's loading areas. I would have been happier if the parking lot (and all the trails in the parks) were using permeable asphalt for instance. My opinion; I’m no professional.

OK. So when I mentioned this to a city and county officials who have titles with the words “planner” and sustainability” in them, they said “Guerilla Gardening…” Maybe they have been out planting vines in the night already. Anyone want to nurture some trumpet vines you see wandering off and popping up in the yard for a green attack on some unsuspecting chainlink fence? Got creeper? How bout some cuttings?

    Virginia Creeper

    Passion Flower


trumpet vine   Trumpet Vine



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Litt weighs in on the Towpath Trail at Stealyard Commons

Litt weighs in on the Towpath Trail at Stealyard Commons.

I weighed in above. There was a great discussion of this at Callahan's Cleveland Diary back in 2007 that got moved over to Brewed Fresh Daily, but like so many of those good discussions, the links now lead to a warped page that informs, "Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here."

If this is a cattle chute what, pray tell, happens at the other end of that tunnel, eh?

By the way, why did it take so long for Litt to write up this scathing review of the cattle chute? Weren't bloggers blowing that whistle, wasn't Paul Alsenas blowing the Stealyard Commons whistle two (three?) years ago. 

SPACES offered superorg and what happened... a cattle chute. Oh that's right... ODOT debacle, Breuer debacle... we were all busy then.

Ah, Cleveland... go along to get along. 


  Vines would be very nice at Steelyard.  As someone who lives nearby--I am not going to criticize the convenience of Steelyard.  Sure, there are design issues, but it's better than nada...and Mitch Schneider would certainly NOT top my list of dead beat urban developers.  

I would like to see a residential hotel at Steelyard with family-themed facilities to provide an option for short term physician appointments at Metro. etc. A well-maintained lap pool would be nice ...Having the zoo nearby is also  plus for visitors with families, too. 

The towpath is in my backyard....I love it and I use it, but I don't see a lot of neighborhood buy-in, yet.  It may not be exciting looking right now, but I can get from point A to point B on my bike and visitors to Cleveland often need another option for lodging besides downtown and Rockside Rd. 

Mitch Schneider, let's talk!



Steve Litt=Joanna Connors

Steve Litt reminds me of Joanna Conners and her movie reviews - if she panned a movie - I made sure I went to see it - it would usually be good.

In the same way Steve Litt doesn't "get it" - particularly when it comes to art. Never has and I doubt he ever will.

So sad. So PD. 

The trail

  I just spent a night sedated by Alka Seltzer Cold Plus (yeah, this is a plug).  Amazing stuff...after a week of highs and lows on other cold medicines.  I finally got some sleep.  It's not so easy to find...anymore.  My significant other went in hunt of the stuff and he could not find it anywhere, so he resorted to the evil Walmarts at Steelyard.   And, I am finally recovering.  So, you see, my story has a point, afterall :)

Actually, Litt's article neglects to mention the winding part of the trail that bisects the parking lot at Walmart. This is the trail I use to ride my bike to Tremont from Jennings Rd. and I like the soaring feeling of the space.  The criss-crossing highways, the clouds, the hulking hospital on the hill...

Back to my drugs now.