FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Stop long enough at the light at Cook and Coldwater roads and you might see a common white butterfly grazing on the coneflower.

That’s the median strip that used to be a nothing-looking slab of pavement now filled with perennials to delight the traveler’s eye and attract pollinators.

Patrick Zaharako, left, city engineer and flood control manager, and Ben Hess, a former DNR ecologist who is the city’s right of way landscape manager, have added acres of pollinating plants, grasses and trees to city rods and streets. Here they stand at Coldwater and Cook roads where there are brown-eyed susans, coneflower and iris besides salvia.

The plantings are also there to capture water runoff, a federal requirement handed down about 10 years ago, said Patrick Zaharako, city engineer and flood control manager with the Department of Public Works. Street. Water runoff takes pollutants directly into the stormwater systems. Here, there is a filtering among the rocks and planted iris.

Ben Hess, a former ecologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, is now the city’s right of way landscape manager. He chose plantings for their resilience and their tolerance to drought flood and salt.

Choices are something of an experiment, too.

“There’s lot of different parameters that need to be put in to the selection to make sure that they not only plant and live the first year, but thrive and continue on because we plant perennials so that they come back every year,” Zaharako said.

The plantings you find at Coldwater and Cook are different than those at Coldwater and Coliseum Boulevard, for instance. There you’ll find liriope, day lily, Prairie drop seed and little bluestem grass. Oak, elm and hawthorn trees are flourishing.

In the near future, expect to find new plantings on Washington Center and St. Joe Center roads besides other areas that haven’t been announced. When the Coldwater road widening gets underway between Dupont Road and Union Chapel roads, center medians are planned with like flowers and grasses with other landscaping between the curb line and sidewalk, they said.

“We are usually adding an acre or two a year,” Zaharako said. “We’re trying to beautify not only our medians, but the side spaces along the road.” The effort has been underway for about seven years.

Some roads included in the completed projects include Parnell Avenue at Coliseum and North Clinton Street, Maplecrest Road north of Lake Avenue up to Trier Road, and Maysville Road from Stellhorn Road to Meijer Drive. The Parks Department takes care of the day lilies you see on Main Street as well as plantings at the Allen County Courthouse, Zarahako said.

Maintenance includes pruning and cutting in the fall or spring and weeds are got rid of throughout the year, Hess said. Although there are spot herbicide treatments, the city relies on hand pulling and trash abatement to keep it as clean as possible, they said.

Reaction to the roadside plantings is encouraging.