Future Pedro Park sows an urban flower field

Urban Flower FIeld (Photo courtesy Amanda Lovelee)

The vacant lot that was once the downtown St. Paul home of the Pedro Luggage company will soon be filled with flowers.

The lot, which sits across 10th Street from the new Penfield development, has been turned into an “urban flower field” by city artist in residence Amanda Lovelee and includes 96 plots of flowers laid out in a pinwheel pattern.

The flower field serves as a placeholder for what will eventually be a permanent park. But rather than let the space sit empty for two years while funds are raised, the city turned it over to Lovelee.

“There are some amazing people who have dedicated their lives to making St Paul great,” said Lovelee, “but the residents don’t always get to see that.  They tend to see what is not being done. I was interested in showing that these spaces in transition might not look alive or loved but really are on many peoples minds within the city. ”

The site is not just supposed to be pretty.

Lovelee says ideally it will serve as a gathering space, hosting movies and concerts. And it’s also home to a science experiment. Lovelee worked with Adam Kay, director of environmental science at the University of St. Thomas, to explore how the flower plantings might help the soil underneath.

Looking for designs for the proposed garden, Lovelee began researching the sunflower, which led her to the golden mean and the Fibonacci Sequence.

“I thought this was a great point to focus one because it was that moment where science meets beauty,” said Lovelee.  “So I asked Adam if the flowers needed to be planted in square plots and luckily he said no.  After that the design literally spread off the ground and up the wall with the help of mural artist Ed Charbonneau and Jeremy Szopinski.”

Neighborhood volunteers helped plant the flower field, which should offer a rapidly changing sensory entertainment with summer heat and rains.

Urban Flower Field concept and design plan

The city will celebrate the opening of the urban flower field Saturday with events planned throughout the day.

“I am hoping that this small intervention in the space will create a space for the surrounding neighbors to gather and be able to visualize their future park,” said Lovelee. “We are all hoping that this experiment between an artist, scientist and city is just the beginning in this cross discipline collaboration.”