respite vail CO

respite

res ·pite  \riˈspÄ«t\ noun ”“ a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant

As a deluge of April showers depart, we are all hoping to see sunshine and copious amounts of May flowers in the coming weeks. The seemingly never-ending doldrums of winter have left many of our core communities yearning for the respite of spring weather. Spring also nudges many of us to begin to shift our focus on planning our summer travels and the equally important personal respite, one that often puts us into great downtown spaces outside of our state and even our region.

As we arrive into the month of May, we will spend a bit of time reflecting on the great vacation spots we visit and the lessons we can learn from these places we call destinations. Because, although they are our vacation destinations, these same towns represent someone else’s project, home, challenge, and job.

Vail, CO ”“ Summer 2011

respite vail CO

At first glance, it’s tough to see how Vail relates to any Pennsylvania community. With its Rocky Mountain peaks, 5-star resort hotels, and high end retailers, I can understand the concern. However, visiting in the summer, there is a distinctly small town vibe that emanates from their pedestrian spaces and furthermore, there are literally dozens of lessons to be learned. The most interesting is their approach to seasonal landscaping. In an area that builds its economy on feet of snow (not inches), traditional landscapes are mostly durable native species grown in sensible locations. This does not preclude the town from using annuals. Quite the contrary, the actively USE annuals to add colorful focal points in the community (see the flower cart). This approach really exemplifies the less-is-more concept. Rather than sprinkling small pots of flowers across the plaza, Vail has focused all their energy in one space; less distribution of plants, much more impact!

As you begin to think about summer plantings, is there room for a Rocky Mountain approach to planting that could add similar impact to your public spaces?