May 22, 2021
Gardens in the ViBe protect waterways and add beauty to an urban area


By Mary Reid Barrow

 The ViBe Creative District in the downtown oceanfront area has transformed  an old city alley into a colorful parklet. Planter boxes and lush green beds have taken the place of rocky and neglected paved areas.

Local artists have “landscaped” the fence along the alley and apartment dwellers in front of the alley volunteer to look after their eclectic backyard.

All across the ViBe, open spaces, from rutted parking areas to neglected sidewalk tree strips,   are changing.  Planted with native plants and shrubs, the open spaces are becoming an environmental show case that demonstrates how  urban areas can become beautiful to look at, pleasant to be in and protect their watersheds from polluted storm water runoff as well.

The ViBe is sponsoring monthly gardens tours of their transformed open spaces.  The first one is at 1 p.m., Sunday, May 30, beginning at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.

The public is invited to learn about the collaboration  that ViBe businesses  have with the City, Orbis Landscape Architects and the non-profits, ViBe Creative District and LRNow, to fill their open spaces with greenery.

Two restaurant kitchen gardens will be on the tour as will several other restaurant and commercial landscapes and some other common areas.  The grounds around the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and the Virginia Beach Convention Center also will be on the tour.

The collaborative group hopes to improve the  local ecosystem, to enhance the aesthetics of the VIBE  and to provide a pleasant place for visitors. LRNow’s Pearl Business Coordinator Vince Bowhers has been available to assist ViBe locations with their landscaping from an environmental point of view.

  Storm water runoff from the ViBe can enter three different Virginia  Beach Watersheds, Vince said.   Stand at the intersection of Baltic Avenue and 19th Street and you also are at the intersection of the Lynnhaven Watershed to the north, The Ocean Coastal Watershed to the east and the Owls Creek Rudee Inlet Watershed to the south, he explained.

By planting the bare areas, especially with native plants, the ViBe is reducing storm water runoff and all the pollution it carries with it to the waterways in three watersheds, Vince  added.

The Vibe District will lead  the first garden tour on May 30.  LRNow will lead the second on June 27 and Orbis Landscape Architects will lead the third tour on July 25.  The tours will continue on August 29, September 26 and October 24.

For information on the ViBe Creative District and the gardens, click on.


Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell?  What relationships have you observed  between plants and critters?  Who eats whom?  Who has babies where?   Send an email to


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