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Flourishing FoCo: Downtown Flower Project#

drawing of flowers with icon says Downtown Flower Project

The City of Fort Collins Parks Department is proud to present Flourishing FoCo, Downtown Flower Project. The Parks Department works diligently to provide and maintain the flower beds in Downtown Fort Collins. The beautiful and memorable displays take a great deal of planning, partnerships with local organizations, sustainable and environmentally friendly efforts, and provide a sense of place to the Fort Collins community.

dirt in trays for planting seeds

Planning, Sourcing & Design

 

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roses being watered

Sustainability

 

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greenhouse of flowers

Impact & Importance

 

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flowers in median

Pollinator Parkway

 

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Planning, Sourcing & Design#

drawing of flowers

The Downtown Flower Project is refreshed annually with the thoughtful care and consideration of the Parks Department Horticulture Team. The Horticulture Team works diligently to plan the flower beds throughout the downtown Fort Collins area, they source specific flowers and plants from local growers, and expertly design all flower beds and pots.

45,000 Flowers & Plants#

About 45,000 flowers and greenery are planted each summer by Parks staff, and placed throughout Downtown Fort Collins.

270 Different Species#

Keep your eyes out for some of our unique flowers planted including Digiplexis Illumination Flame, Tea Cup Elephant Ear, Meteor Shower Verbena, Venti Light Rose Dahlia, and Truffula Pink Gomphrena.

Funding#

The Downtown Flower Project is funded through a partnership between the City of Fort Collins and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). 

  • Annual flowers in Old Town Square are funded through a partnership with the DDA. Two-thirds of the funding comes from the DDA, and one-third from the City of Fort Collins Parks Department.
  • Annual flowers in enhanced downtown alleys are funded by the DDA.
  • Annual flowers in downtown public right-of-way such as Linden Street, College Avenue, Oak Street Plaza, and downtown side streets are funded through the City of Fort Collins Parks Department.

Where do the flowers come from?#

Flowers are sourced locally from nearby greenhouse, Plantorium. A few common species of flowers included in displays are Dahlias, Petunias, Coleus, Calibrachoa, Petchoa, Zinnia, Strawflower, Canna, Verbena, and Gomphrena.

Did you know?#

The Parks Department collaborates with Colorado State University’s Horticulture and Landscape Architecture team to select the best varieties of plants. Each season, staff from the Parks Department visit the nearby Annual Flower Trial Garden and choose flowers that are grown for optimum performance in Colorado’s climate. Learn more about the Annual Flower Trial Garden online here.

Want a sneak peak of our design process?#

The Horticulture Team follows the design principle, Thrill, Fill, and Spill on each flower pot. "Thrill" indicates the larger, showstopping plants in the center of the pot. "Fill" points to the plants that help fill out the center and provide structure for the overall design. Then, "Spill" showcases the plants that make up the edge of the design and expand past the perimeter of the flower pot.

The image below shows a table and the corresponding color circles mapping out how plants are placed in a flower pot. 

This particular design is used in 30 pots throughout Downtown Fort Collins. 

chart showcasing how flowers are planted in pot

Eliminating Waste#

Most plants in the Downtown Flower Project are grown in Ellepots. Ellepots are plant holders made from environmentally-friendly paper, suitable for propagation.

Ellepots eliminate excess plastic containers, allow plants to take root more quickly, and reduce staff time required for planting.

Sustainability#

roses being watered

From water usage to compost efforts and everything in between, the Parks Department ensures every possible effort is as sustainably friendly as possible. Learn more with the expandable topics below. 

Hazel Dell Mushroom Compost#

The Parks Department mixes Hazel Dell Mushroom Compost into each and every flower bed in the Downtown area. The compost is derived from a mushroom substrate, primarily hardwood sawdust. The best news is that there's no manure so Downtown Fort Collins is left smelling fresh and clean.

Nuance Cacao Husks#

Smell something chocolatey in Downtown Fort Collins? It might be the mulch in the flower beds! Each bed is filled with a mixture of cacao husks which act as a fantastic all natural fertilizer.

Less Plastic Waste#

Almost all plants you see in Downtown Fort Collins are grown in an Ellepot. Ellepots cut back on plastic and are a completely natural and biodegradable container for growing seedlings into the beautiful plants you see today. 

Also, all plastic trays and containers that are used for plant delivery are returned to Plantorium after initial planting. 

~20,000 lbs of Compost#

At the end of the flowering season, approximately 20,000 pounds of plant material is composted each year. 

The Parks Department's expertise of water efficiency results in a healthy and thriving plant environment in Downtown Fort Collins. With several key combined factors including - the development of soil structure and health, the fertilization process, and the daily care via deadheading, pruning, and weeding - plants are provided with the appropriate water they need to thrive in the Downtown Fort Collins environment. 

All in-ground flower beds throughout Downtown Fort Collins have been converted to a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to the roots of the plant, eliminating overspray and reducing water loss. 

Impact & Importance#

flowers in a greenhouse

When someone comes to visit Fort Collins, where do you take them? Downtown of course!

While wandering downtown you'll notice a strong resemblance to Disneyland's Main Street USA - we’re proud to say that it is modeled after our very own Downtown Fort Collins. The alleys have European-style walkways with potted flowers and lighting to make the experience beautiful. Streets a lined with nature including stunning flower beds and trees most of which are maintained by the Parks Department. 

The sense of place and community-centeredness provided by the Downtown Flower Project is part of what makes Fort Collins so beautiful and memorable. 

Insects, Birds & Bees - oh my!#

Flowers attract all sorts of pollinators through their vibrant colors, distinct scents, and various shapes. Insects, birds, butterflies, bats, and bees are common pollinators we see frequenting the flower beds of Downtown Fort Collins.

Thousands of Visitors#

Aside from the pollinator communities that visit the flowers, thousands of people frequent the 500+ shops and restaurants of Downtown Fort Collins every summer. The flowers are a special and welcome addition to those enjoying the Downtown area.

Colorado State University (CSU)#

CSU's Horticulture and Landscape Architecture team's research provides direction and ideas to the Parks Department to assist with the planning and development of flower bed design. The Trial Gardens, hosted by CSU, is an integral part of the planning process. Learn more about the Annual Flower Trial Garden online here.

Local Small Businesses#

Nuance Chocolate donates cacao husks to the Parks Department, which serve as a great source of fertilization for the Downtown Flower Project. They also improve soil conditions and structure in the flower beds. 

USDA-certified organic mushroom compost is purchased from local business, Hazel Dell Mushrooms. This compost is 100% weed and animal manure free!

Plantorium Greenhouse & Nursery is a family-owned and operated greenhouse just north of Fort Collins. They have been working with the Parks Department for over 15 years. 

Pollinator Parkway#

planted flowers in city center

New in 2024, the Pollinator Parkway was specifically designed as a haven for pollinators. More perennials were incorporated into the area while keeping sustainability top of mind. 

A list of flowers used in this area is included below along with a photo. 

white flower

Alaska Shasta Daisy
Leucanthemum superbum

pink flower

Autumn Joy Sedum
Sedum spectabile "Autumn Joy"

purple flower

Baby Joe Pye Weed
Eupatorium dubium "Baby Joe"

purple and green plant

Bears Breeches
Acanthus mollis

Purple flowering plant

Black Stockings Meadow Rue
Thalictrum "Black Stockings"

blue flower

Blue Balloon Flower
Platycodon grandiflorus

purple flower

Blue False Indigo
Baptisia australis

light purple flowering plant

Blue Fortune Hyssop
Agastache "Blue Fortune"

red flower

Canadian Columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

purple flowering plant

Caradonna Salvia
Salvia nemerosa

small white flower

Chocolate Snakeroot
Ageratina altissima "Chocolate"

golden flower

Colorado Gazania
Gazania linearis "Colorado Gold"

red leafed plant

Columnar Barberry
Barberis columnaris "Orange Rocket"

coral flowering plant

Coral Baby Penstemon
Penstemon barbatus "Coral Baby"

bushy plant with red flowers

Coronado Agastache
Agastache aurantiaca "Coronado"

small purple and white flowers on a dark brown stem

Dark Towers Penstemon
Penstemon "Dark Towers"

bright yellow flower

Denver Gold Columbine
Aquilegia chrysantha "Denver Gold"

bright purple flower

Fama Pincushin Flower
Scabiosa caucasica "Fama Deep Blue"

red spikey plant

Flamenco Red Hot Poker
Kniphofia uvaria "Flamenco"

small yellow flowers

Golden Banner
Thermopsis montana

green and purple leaves

Green Spice Heuchera
Heuchera americana "Green Spice"

yellow flowers with brown center

Henry Eilers Rudbeckia
Rydbeckia subtomentosa "Henry Eilers"

green leaves with white fuzzy flowers

Iceberg Alley Willow
Salix candida "Jefberg"

bright green plant leaves

Island Breeze Hosta
Hosta "Island Breeze"

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Kobold liatris
Liatris spicata "Kobold"

bright yellow flower

Kodiak Orange Honeysuckle
Diervilla x "G2X88544"

red flowers

Koi Geum
Geum coccineum "Koi"

yellow flower

Leopard Plant
Ligularis "Britt Marie Crawford"

red flowering plant

Mesa Red Blanket Flower
Gaillardia x grandiflora "Mesa Red"

purple fuzzy flowers

Millenium Ornamental Onion
Allium hybrid "ALLMIG1"

purple flower

Monnieri Betony
Stachys monieri "Hummelo"

yellow flowering plant

Moonshine Yarrow
Achillea x "Moonshine"

red flowers

Paprika Yarrow
Achillea millefolium "Paprika"

tall orange and yellow plant

Pineapple Pop Red Hot Poker
Kniphofia uvaria "Pineapple Popsicle"

small pink flowers

Pink Whirling Butterflies
Gaura lindheimeri

small purple and light green flowering plant

Pure Joy Sedum
Sedum hybrid "Pure Joy"

small spikey light green flowering plant

Rattlesnake Master
Eryngium yuccifolium

plant with small red flowers and long stems

Red Yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

long green stemed plant with small purple flowers

Rocky Mountain Penstemon
Penstemon strictus

light purple flowers with yellow center

Sapphire Blue Aster
Aster dumosus "Kickin' Sapphire"

green leafy plant

Silver Heels Marrubium
Marrubium rotundifolium

pink flower

Soulmate Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias incarnata "Soulmate"

yellow flowers

Sulphur Flower Kannah Creek
Eriogonum unbellatum Kannah Creek

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Tennessee Coneflower
Echinacea tennesseensis

light green flowering plant

Thriller Lady's Mantle
Alchemila mollis

tall plant with yellow flowers

Turkish Sage
Phlomis russeliana

small yellow flowers

Tuscan Heliopsis
Heliopsis helianthoides "Tuscan Sun"

tall plant with small red flowers

Windwalker Salvia
Salvia darcyi x S. microphylla "PWIN03S"