Urban Garden Denver Blog

Over and Above

Commercial properties are required by Denver zoning regulations to provide landscaping along the frontage right of way, which is usually the strip between the road and the sidewalk. In addition, depending on the size of the parking lot, landscaped areas are required every 15 parking spaces. These regulations soften our commercial spaces and provide respite from continuous asphalt or concrete. However, there are many ways for businesses to comply with the regulations, and many low-growing juniper plants are put to work as landscape cover in commercial applications. Our eyes don’t really notice the bare minimum kind of businesses, they are not remarkable, there is a little green, and they comply with the regulation.

However, businesses that go over and above on their landscaping are a welcome respite, particularly if they are in areas where all the other landscaping barely achieves the regulatory minimum. The stretch of Evans Avenue east of I-25 to Quebec Avenue is  the epitome of minimal landscaping. The combination of light industrial, warehouses and retails strips is devoid of much landscape personality and is an ugly commute. A notable exception is the East Evans Animal Hospital. For some reason, the owners of this business have decided to go way above the requirements with an amazing perennial garden that is lovely in all seasons. It looks more like the yard of an avid gardener than a commercial space. Part of what makes the landscaping of this business so remarkable is that it is completely unexpected in this neighborhood. Certainly the boutique neighborhood of Cherry Creek North commercial district has exceptional flowers, pots and landscaped strips, but that treatment meets the expectation for such a high-end commercial area.

Lush perennial garden on East Evans

Just a block away from the oasis at the animal hospital garden, there is a car dealership service department that met the minimum requirements at one time, before the grass died and the trees struggled. The effect is to make the business seem abandoned, even though they seem to still service plenty of cars on their property.

Dying landscape (see dead tree branches above ground growth)

What’s the difference between a person or business who just meets the requirements and one who takes the time and energy to go over and above? The motivation has to come from within, not an outside rule. But over-and-above people bring joy and energy to life. The abundance of their style of living has an impact on those around them. In some small way, all the people who drive by the East Evans Animal Hospital benefit from seeing lovely flowers in the midst of a commercial wasteland, and they are refreshed by this experience. I’m not implying that a little more landscaping can improve all the problems in our world. Violence rages, sickness robs, fires consume, but people who are over-and-above souls do spill some joy onto those around them. And more people choosing to live with that generous attitude, can transform a community. The Bible talks about the overflow of what God has done for us – as he fills us with joy and peace, it overflows as hope to those around us. (Romans 15:13).

That’s the kind of gardener I want to be. Not one meeting the bare minimum requirements, but one who lives in abundance, with a positive overflow to those around me.

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