Orchid Alley. A sculpture stands in the middle of Orchid Alley, one of the alleyways renamed in Pendleton Heights. This artwork includes clay sculptures created by students at Garfield Elementary.



Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

Pendleton Heights is launching a neighborhood project to revamp 11 of their 17 alleyways thanks to a recent grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The grant, approximately $5,000, will fund the beautification of the alleys, two rain barrels, and different plants that will help with erosion issues for the neighborhood orchard at Lexington Avenue and Montgall.

Beautification will include alley cleanup days, removing tall and overgrown shrubs and grasses, restoring native plants in the alleyways, and incorporating different blooms in each alley.

The grant will fund the project over the next two years, beginning this spring.

Holly Oden, who is in charge of beautification on the Pendleton Heights board, says the goal is to improve safety by increasing visibility, clearing out the trash, and getting positive foot traffic in the alleys as a result of the efforts.

“When we first started working on the alleys, they were overgrown and had all sorts of trash in them,” she said. “ To improve safety and visibility, we wanted to clear some of that out.”

Oden said a representative from the Missouri Department of Conservation walked the alleyways with her to determine the best types of native plants to incorporate in each alley, based on the type of soil that is there and the amount of sun each alley gets. To help with safety, the plants chosen will not grow higher than two-and-a-half feet.

“He helped me go through and figure out what plants would help improve visibility, are native, and would look nice in the alleys,” said Oden. “We took two of our alleys and did small sections of planting to see how the plants would do, and they’ve done pretty well over the last couple of years. We will continue to work on removing invasive plants that cause visibility problems or are just taking over those spaces, then replace them with native plants that will be prettier and that will provide better visibility in the alleys.”

Oden said native plants were chosen because they thrive in this environment.

“Native plants take less care, because they’re in their natural habitat. They’re also a great support for the surrounding ecosystem. They provide a healthy alternative to invasive plant species, such as Japanese Honeysuckle or Japanese Hops, that birds and other animals currently rely on. In fact, a big part of the work tied into the grant will be to work on removing some of those invasive plant species that choke out native plants, spread like wildfire, and don’t provide proper nutrition for pollinators and animals. It’s a great way to select plants that are low maintenance, great for the environment and will improve visibility, all while making our alleys a place for a beautiful stroll.”

Some of the native plants include butterfly weed, beard tongue, cone flowers, Missouri primrose, and native grasses.

Last year, Pendleton Heights installed signs in their alleys, naming each one after the neighborhood colors. The alleys running east and west are named different shades of purple; alleys running north and south are different shades of green.

Garfield Elementary students worked with the neighborhood last year to incorporate a pottery project in Orchid alley. Oden’s brother created a tree-like sculpture to hold small pots created by the students. Native plants have also been planted around the base of the sculpture.

Oden said she hopes to hold an alley meeting to discuss future use of the alleys with the residents who live closest to them.

“We want to beautify them and make them safer, and we want to get some positive use out of them as well. A lot of that depends on what the individuals living around the alleys want. Because that is, essentially, their backyard.”

Pendleton Heights will host four alley cleanup days in the next two years: one in the spring and one in the fall. The first alley cleanup day is scheduled for May 18.

Other neighborhood events include Bring Your Kid to Serve Day on June 22, Orchard Workday with KCU on July 17 and August 2, and a second Alley Workday on September 21.

To learn more, visit pendletonheights.org.