Digging in to make sure St. Clair Shores looks beautiful this season

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 15, 2019

File photo

ST. CLAIRT SHORES — Keeping St. Clair Shores beautiful is a matter of civic pride for Lil Claycomb.

The chair of the St. Clair Shores Beautification Commission said that she feels great pride in the height of summer whenever she is traveling on 11 Mile Road, east of Interstate 696, and she sees the sign announcing the entrance to St. Clair Shores with blooming rosebushes.

“I feel that beautification is St. Clair Shores,” Claycomb said. “When you drive into St. Clair Shores, if that sign was (pitted) and paint peeling and weeds growing, the taste in your mouth and in your mind is not good.”

That’s just one of the many city entrances and beds that the commission maintains, including beds at Blossom Heath Park; all of the sign beds around the city; and beds at the library, police station and courthouse. The group also works on special projects as directed by the mayor and the City Council.

Despite some poor weather recently, the group and its volunteers have already been at work getting the flower beds ready for spring planting. Everything must be in order before the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade, she said.

“We set Memorial Day as our goal, and we have to be all planted by the Memorial Day Parade,” she said. “This year, the parade is on Jefferson, so it’s vitally important that all the City Hall offices and things are done before that time, and we will do that.

“If we’re out there with flashlights, we will see that it’s done.”

Right now, the group is busy pulling weeds, edging, fertilizing and turning the soil over. Sometimes more soil or mulch needs to be added in the spring. Claycomb said that they are looking to plant more perennials to save some money, and they are making a list of what flowers they want to purchase for each bed this spring. They’re searching the lists of new flowers to find plants that are “showy” and will make the city look good, she said.

“We basically start mobilizing the volunteers, making sure every bed has someone who is going to be taking care of it throughout the entire summer,” said City Councilman John Caron, the liaison to the commission from the City Council. “We coordinate what type of plant everyone wants, what type of flowers, so that we’re ready to begin planting in mid-May.”

There are also concrete flower pots scattered throughout the city that need to be maintained by the group, he said.

“We do a lot of the cleanup in the fall, so we do make sure all of the beds are clear in the fall. There is a decent amount of soil prep. Everyone gives a read of how their bed is, soil-wise, before they plant,” he said.

The group of 12 members of the commission is supported by numerous volunteers, who pledge to work at one of the beds throughout the city a few hours each week throughout the season, which runs from about May through October.

“This is not a one-person job; this is many people,” Claycomb said.

She said that the group also couldn’t do what it does for the city without support from the Parks and Recreation Department, as well as donations from places like Halls Nursery, Soulliere Landscaping Garden Center, Landscape Services and Viviano Flower Shop.

“I am no landscaper. I just have a desire to have my city look good, and I think that’s what all these people do,” Claycomb said. “If you see somebody bending over a bed, give them a honk or a wave and say, ‘Thank you.’”

Claycomb said that there is always room for more volunteers. Those wishing to help can contact Caron at (586) 777-0611 or at caronj@scsmi.net. She said that even youths who need service hours for their school or church are welcome to pitch in and help.

“We sometimes have big things, like mulching a huge bed there at 11 (Mile Road) and (I-696), where we need lots of people,” she said. “Lots of people do a little work and it’s done.”