Commons container planting
Image by Janine Willis

There are 78 container planters on The Commons.

In-ground plantings on The Commons

In-ground annual plantings on the Commons.

portulaca in pavilion planters
Image by Janine Willis

Portulaca planted in the containers at the Bernie Milton Pavilion

Commons Community Beautification
Image by Martha Gioumousis

Pansies and allium on the Commons

Commons Community Beautification
Image by Martha Gioumousis

Planting pansies on the Commons

Commons Community Beautification
Image by Martha Gioumousis

Volunteers plant and water the annual inground plantings on the Commons.

Commons community beautificaton
Image by Martha Gioumousis

The entrance to the Commons from Cayuga St

Bulbs and pansies in the spring
Image by Martha Gioumousis

Potted bulbs and pansies in the spring

Ithaca Commons

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 containers on the Commons, with support from Downtown Ithaca Alliance for watering.

The annual beds are planted with a succession of spring bulbs including tulips (Negrita purple, Pays Bas white, Annie Schilder orange), and daffodils (King Alfred, Goblet, Juanita, and Mando). Crocus and snowdrops have also been planted throughout the years. Summer annuals follow the bulbs with 'Tropicana' Canna, edible kale varieties (Red Russian, Nero di Toscana Lacinato, Baltist Red, Purpurkal) 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 three season interest: Pansies and potted bulbs in the spring, mixed summer annuals, and winter greens and ornamental branches for the winter months.

Container plants for the containers include mixed color dwarf Canna, Rudbeckia Indian Summer and Irish Spring, Marigold Marvel Mix and dwarf varieties, Petunia 'Wave' Purple, 'Profusion Double Fire' Zinnia, Butterfly Weed, and sweet potato vine. As the trees have begun to mature on the Commons, more shade tolerant annuals will be added in the coming years.

Last updated January 3, 2022