The Commons is a pedestrian mall in the center of Downtown Ithaca. It runs down State St (Martin Luther King Blvd.) from Aurora St. on the east side to Cayuga St on the west side. It forms a T at Bank Alley crossing to Seneca St. Originally developed in the 1970s, The Commons underwent a complete demolition and renovation starting in the spring of 2013 and completed in stages during 2015. Plantings on the Commons include long narrow perennial beds, individual tree plots, eight annual beds and 78 4’ x 2’ annual container planters made out of a composite material and standing 3’ high.
In fall of 2017, the Commons added six new 5' long planters around the fountain in Bank Alley. These new planters are only a foot high and do not block the view of the fountain. GreenTree Garden Supply donated potting soil and the planters were planted with mums, ornamental kale and pansies for the fall. Additional wooden planters were added in the spring of 2018 to fully surround the fountain--which has undergone major repair.
The Community Beautification Program is in charge of the annual beds and planters and works in conjunction with Downtown Ithaca Alliance to maintain the perennial beds.
The annual beds are planted with a succession of spring bulbs including:
Tulips Negrita purple, Pays Bas white, Annie Schilder orange, Daffodils King Alfred, Goblet and bordered with the early blooming Snowdrops Galanthus Elwesii: and Crocus Goldilocks and Orange Monarch.
Summer annuals follow the bulbs, Tropicana Canna, edible kale varieties Red Russian, Nero di Toscana Lacinato, Baltist Red Purpurkal, Scarlet, Marigolds, Rudbeckia, Zinnia Profusion Double Fire and Petunia Wave.
The kale is edible and is harvested throughout the season and donated to Loaves & Fishes, serving free meals five days a week at nearby St. John's Episcopal Church.
The container planters are planted for four season interest: Pansies and potted bulbs in the spring, mixed summer annuals, ornamental kale and pansies in the fall and winter greens and ornamental branches for the winter months.
Behind Center Ithaca are three remaining green wooden containers that were built by students at BOCES. These served as temporary planters during the Commons construction and have been retained as part of an outdoor sitting area with tables and chairs. These are planted with the same four-season approach as the containers on the Commons itself. Additional green wooden containers are on Cayuga St. and W. State St. adjacent to the Commons.
Container plants for both new and old containers include:
Canna mixed dwarf colors and varieties. Toucan and Cannova.
Rudbeckia Indian Summer and Irish Spring, Marigold Marvel Mix and dwarf varieties, Petunia Wave Purple, Profusion Double Fire Zinnia, Butterfly Weed, sweet potato vine varieties Margarita, Caroline, Tricolor, Blackie, ornamental millet varieties Purple Majesty and Jester. The large containers also feature Black & Blue Salvia.
Last updated February 5, 2020