Danielle Boyle and her crew planting flowers on Broad Street Friday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


hot topicAny day now, perhaps in time for Mothers’ Day, peonies as big as softballs will be blooming on Broad Street in Red Bank.

In coming months, downtown visitors will also be treated to bursts of color provided by hydrangea vanilla sundae, whirling butterfly and other plantings, thanks to a RiverCenter project utilizing the talents of a highly regarded gardener.

A newly planted bed on Broad Street opposite Monmouth Street, above, and the same bed as seen last July. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The downtown promotion agency has contracted with Danielle Boyle, the former longtime gardener at the Grove at Shrewsbury shopping center, to work her magic in a handful of planting beds on both sides of Broad Street between White Street and Linden Place.

Boyle, owner of Lily’s of the Valley, retired in January after years of managing gardens for large retail properties owned by Metrovation, including the Grove and the Anderson building, home to Sickles Market, in Red Bank.

Ingeborg Perndorfer, owner of the Language School and a volunteer with the Navesink Garden Club, which maintains 65 planters throughout town, saw an opportunity for RiverCenter to benefit from Boyle’s skills. She persuaded executive director Bob Zuckerman to meet with Boyle.

“She’s an artist who paints with perennials,” Perndorfer said of Boyle. Her gardens, she said, are “lush, gorgeous, flowering artwork.”

The beds Boyle has begun transforming were created as part of a reconstruction of Broad Street completed last July. But the plantings left behind included shrubs that might have grown to six feet in height, creating visual “blockers,” Boyle told redbankgreen.

They’ve been dug up and will be reused elsewhere by the borough, she said.

Her approach to the task, she said, is ” to stick to what I do best,” which she described as “perennial art, a procurement over time.”

“I like to play with color a lot,” Boyle said. “It’s like an orchestra – it’s not just one note. My job is just to guide and establish things, and basically, the plants do all the work.”

The plantings “grow and multiply,” she said. “The need a certain amount of nurturing. It’s not like mulch-and-go. I’m not a lawn guy.”

Flowers and plants are chosen to withstand heat and drought, and to “transition” into something else in terms of color and texture, she said.

When they’re past flowering the peonies will be be dead-headed “can handle drought, and a lot of abuse,” she said. The hydrangea vanilla sundae will “come up a chartreuse green, and as it gets colder they go pink.” Echinacea will bloom late summer, as will the whirling butterfly,

Working in an urban environment, she’s also factored in the need to address “pedestrian damage,” whether it’s caused by a wandering child, a dog or a rowdy drunk, Boyle said. But she’s not overly concerned about human-inflicted damage.

For the most part, “people see beauty, and they want to care for it,” she said. She watched on Thursday as a man stopped his dog from approaching a bed, saying, “oh no, that’s too beautiful,” she said.

With 2023 as a demonstration year, “I’m going to nurture it for the season and we’ll see how it goes. If it kicks off and there’s not a lot of damage, we’re going to move on and do other ones” beyond Broad Street, Boyle said.

John Yarusi, owner of Johnny’s Pork Roll & Coffee, has been watching Boyle and her crew “presoaking the soil and doing due diligence” in a planting bed opposite Monmouth Street.

“When that comes to life, it’s going to look so pretty,” he said, adding: “Downtowns all over would love to have this.”

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