Volunteers return to ‘Spruce up the Couve’

As the sun finally managed to poke its way beneath the trees at Esther Short Park on Saturday, volunteers were hard at work planting flowers and refurbishing planter boxes in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

Organized by Vancouver’s Downtown Association, the city of Vancouver and the Parks Foundation of Clark County, the “Spruce up the Couve” event brought together volunteers to beautify Esther Short Park and clean up trash throughout Vancouver’s downtown community.

“I love this kind of stuff. I love being outside,” said Dellan Redjou, the executive director of the Parks Foundation of Clark County. “It’s so nice seeing people spending their Saturdays helping to make Vancouver beautiful.”

Redjou, who has been with the foundation since 2019, oversaw planting of various flowers — petunias, begonias, geraniums and more — at places in and around the park. She and other volunteers worked happily, welcomed their efforts with beautiful weather and the ambience of the Saturday Vancouver Farmers Market, where hundreds gathered for perhaps the most lively market of the year thus far.

The flowers were funded by proceeds from selling bricks in the ground around Propstra Square — a foundation-led initiative in which people can pay to have their names and messages engraved in the brick pavers.

“Bricks turn into flowers,” Redjou said, laughing. “It’s easy!”

Saturday’s event had three different objectives, according to Vancouver’s Downtown Association board member Christie Rust: wash and clean up Propstra Square, plant flowers, and clean up the main corridor. Between each of the tasks, Rust estimates that organizers managed to gather more than 100 volunteers. A second group engaged in similar beautification tasks in Vancouver’s Uptown Village, she said.

The Downtown Association also hung new flower baskets beneath each of the street lamps along the downtown corridor, which Rust said is an annual tradition.

Participating sponsors included local businesses such as Waste Connections, Frontier Landscaping, Hilton Vancouver Washington, Columbia Credit Union and Simply Sweets.

“Everyone enjoys it, and all of a sudden, in a few weeks a lot more of these flowers will start blooming,” Redjou said, gesturing to a handful of bulbs among a collection of red, blue and purple flowers. “It’ll provide a wide variety of colors over the summer months.”