Flower power: Grass Valley couple beautifies downtown with flowers, plants | TheUnion.com

Flower power: Grass Valley couple beautifies downtown with flowers, plants

Elizabeth and Dan Poston stand behind their first downtown Grass Valley planter location at the corner of Main and Auburn Street. Their mission, to bring color and life back to downtown, they believe is working.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

Elizabeth and Dan Poston are on a mission. Theirs isn’t one that will require Herculean forces, nor is it one that will find them brandishing arms or other such things. Their mission is to make downtown Grass Valley beautiful.

The couple, who met while studying environmental horticulture sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, have taken it upon themselves to partner with the Downtown Grass Valley Association and individual businesses to plant flowers, grasses and other greenery in the wooden and brick planters that line Mill and Main streets.

“We figured, we want to see flowers downtown,” said Elizabeth. “It will make me happy and hopefully everybody else will like it too, but kind of selfishly, we wanted to see it pretty.”

Her husband agrees.

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“We are invested in downtown, financially and emotionally as well,” Dan said. “Nothing like driving by and seeing it. We drive by it every day and I like it to look nice.”

All it took was one existing planter in front of Athena Fine Jewelry for Dan, a landscape contractor, and Elizabeth, a landscape designer, to be inspired to make beautification of the area a top priority.

“We started small with a little planter right in front of Athena,” Elizabeth explained, “and then it kind of evolved from there to some of the different businesses. Cirino’s at Main Street, Foothill Flowers, we did Wolf Mountain for a while.”

The duo said that Yuba Blue owner Lillie Robertson and Center of Movement proprietor and 2017 Citizen of the Year Haven Caravelli were instrumental in helping them gain the opportunity to work on all the planter boxes downtown. Now, they are able to work with individual business owners downtown to maintain those boxes, from dead-heading to replanting, fertilizing to vandalism repair.

“We do everything but the watering,” Dan said.

The Postons currently maintain 47 wood planter boxes along Mill and Main Streets in partnership with the various merchants.

“We wanted to give the opportunity to have a really pretty feel downtown and manage that so that the business owners didn’t have to,” said Elizabeth. “It took a couple of years to (establish) who we are and what we wanted to do and it’s a wonderful partnership within the community.”

The planting of the boxes was practically a no-brainer for the Postons. With each of their background in landscape and a passion for the beautification of their hometown, they feel like it was the chance to make a positive difference.

“We started looking at the brick planters, and those were something I have been looking at for the past 12 years since Dan started bringing me up here. The infrastructure is all there. The brick planters are there, the soil is there, the irrigation is there. Let’s do something more than just a boxed hedge.”

Their partnership with the Downtown Grass Valley Association has blossomed, with the association providing plant material while the Postons donate their time and expertise. Most of the boxes include seasonal flowers with ornamental grass — after all, they said, this is Grass Valley.

They are careful to plant flowers and greens which will be drought-tolerant, sun-loving and many of them are deer resistant as well.

As often as possible, they source their plants and materials locally, from Weiss Brothers nursery, and even their five-year-old daughter takes pride in the planting efforts.

“Yeah, she’ll say, ‘those are my mommy and daddy’s flowers,’” Elizabeth said. “We want people to be inspired. And we’d like to elevate things to a higher standard so we all get accustomed to this higher standard.”

Elizabeth and Dan both said their favorite time of year for the blooms is Christmas, though the efforts behind the festive plants can be demanding. They often work on the day before Thanksgiving — or even on Thanksgiving morning — to make sure everything is planted and looking immaculate in time for Black Friday and the droves of people attracted to downtown shopping.

The Grass Valley Christmas tree also falls under their responsibility, and in coming weeks they will be completing the Richardson Street corner planter in association with the Nevada County Contractors Association, of which Elizabeth serves on the board.

“People love flowers,” Elizabeth said. “They want to be in places that make them feel good. They linger longer, they spend more money, they feel better about their community, and flowers are such an easy way of making that happen. We are really passionate about this.”

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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