The following is a republished press release from the Tompkins County Community Beautification Program and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact me at

ITHACA, NY – In the first full year of the new Commons, the Tompkins County Community Beautification Program has outdone itself with extravagant plantings in 78 movable containers and eight in-ground plots.

Featuring tropicals with dramatic height and flowers in bright colors, the plantings and containers also contain familiar petunias, sweet potato vines, butterfly weed, Rudbeckia and more. The in-ground plantings also feature edible kale in four varieties—in true Ithaca style.

The Beautification Program works with a group of volunteers collectively called the Beautification Brigade—visible around town in work sessions with bright orange shirts, green hats and the brightly colored flower van painted by artist Kellie Cox. Together the Brigade worked to fill the containers and create a stunning visual display.

Some of the containers contain soil made from coir and peat from local supplier Greentree Garden Supply. The Downtown Ithaca Alliance works closely with the Brigade and is in charge of keeping all the Commons plantings watered. A further partner was introduced this year when the City of Ithaca announced a restriction on all water use. Since then, City workers have supplied DIA and the Beautification Program with non-potable water drawn from a flood prevention system in Fall Creek.

In this way, the investment in Beautification has been maintained without impacting City of Ithaca water supplies. This non-potable water source will most likely continue to be used for Beautification watering in the future as well.

Other sites planted and maintained by the Beautification Program include the Rotary on Elmira Road, the E. State St. traffic triangles, City Hall, the Tompkins County Public Library, Van Horn Park on Taughannock Blvd. and the highly visible and much expanded planting at Purity Point. The Program is administered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, with funding provided by the Tompkins County Tourism Program.

For more information and more photographs, please contact Community Beautification Program Coordinator Martha Gioumousis at, or 607.351.6982.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.