Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Plant management’

I just got a rough cut today of the video, shot last summer, of the moving of a very large (about 14″ caliper, 30′ height) London Plane Tree in Wellesley, MA. It’s taken a while to edit several hours of footage down to a half an hour, but it’s about done, and in the next few weeks I hope to have added commentary. This video is from the project run by Matt Foti’s crew, aided by Mike Furgal, and it showcases the techniques used in air-tool transplanting. I hope to be able to preview the rough cut at New England Grows, and have the final version completed by the end of February; if there’s enough interest in the landscape architecture, architecture, or arboriculture communities I’ll sell copies. Stay tuned.

The first of five 12-14' caliper London Plane trees being excavated with air tools and transplanted bare root in August 2009.

Read Full Post »

We’ve all seen photos of grand mixed and perennials borders on old country estates (Gertrude Jekyll, Vita Sackville-West, Beatrix Farrand),

Sissinghurst White Gdn

Vita Sackville-West, Sissinghurst White Garden. Photo by bestfor/Richard on Flickr.


and of sweeps of perennials, grasses and shrubs by the contemporary designer Piet Oudolf and landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden.
Generous expanses of grasses and perennials at Chicago's Lurie Garden. Plantings by Piet Oudolf; photo by queenjill on Flickr.
They’re dramatic and luxurious-looking, and it’s easy to envision being right there, surrounded on all sides by space and uninterrupted swathes of glorious texture and color.
Sometimes the only space available is quite a bit smaller and more constrained. This past weekend I was walking down a suburban Boston street and found this planting, in which a narrow bed — bounded by fence on one side, driveway on the other — hosts a garden that shows off in every season.
p1040079

This plant bed can't be any more than three feet wide, but there is a lot going on in it.


In this climate, plantings that flank a driveway have to be tough. Snow gets shoveled and plowed on top of them, and sometimes it’s best to stick to herbaceous perennials that will die back to the ground and be unharmed by wayward plows.
This garden has a fairly simple palette — Hydrangea, ‘The Fairy’ Roses, Korean Chrysanthemums, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, and a carefully pruned collection of crabapples — that works well here. Even if the hydrangeas and roses get clobbered by the plow they’re likely to recover; the sedums and chrysanthemums can be cut back to the ground, and the crabapples are trained to hug the fence, out of the way, making what could have been a winter drawback into a fine asset.
It’s refreshing to see this kind of resourcefulness in what often seem only to be incidental places on a property. This strip isn’t a place in which you’d want to (or could) lounge away the hours, but it shows how varied and texturally exciting even a small space can be.

Read Full Post »

Announcing a new blog! Toby and I would like to keep Taking Place a site for conversation on landscape architectural issues, and it has become clear that my woody plant posts could overwhelm this blog in way we hadn’t planned. So I’ve just started another blog, a sister to this one, called Taking Place In The Trees (www.takingplaceinthetrees.net). It’s focused on woody plant issues, and my aim is to talk about and show good photos of trees, shrubs, and innovations in their planting and care.

I began to post on it last month, with a couple of posts you may have read here. At this point, though, I’m officially launching Taking Place In The Trees as part of the Taking Place family, with posts you may not see here. I’m hoping to be able to duplicate my earlier woody plant posts from this blog on it, to get them all in one place; in the meantime, to see all those posts, click on the ‘Plants’ in the Categories section on the right side of this page, and they’ll all pop up for your reading pleasure.

I’m looking forward to showcasing and discussing more plant topics on Taking Place In The Trees, and to continuing the landscape architecture conversation that Toby and I have going on Taking Place. I hope you continue to visit both sites, and enjoy them!

Nature/culture -- the familiar combo.

Nature/culture -- the familiar combo.

Read Full Post »

The Hamamelis planting in the last post raises the issue of mass plantings, which have long been a favorite of many landscape architects.

I remember a mass rose planting, no longer extant, in a very public location in downtown Boston. One time I went out to do a little guerilla pruning in it with an administrator from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. (Hmm. Perhaps it doesn’t really count as guerrilla pruning if the person you’re working with has the influence to make sure the cuttings are taken away by staff, much as she wanted it to seem as if she was doing the pruning sub rosa, so to speak.)

Rose thorns.  Ow ow ow.

Rose thorns. Ow ow ow.

While were able to clean up the specimen roses in the planting, the mass-planted rugosa roses were another question — it was impossible for us to navigate through the thorns to remove the several years’ worth of dead wood that had accumulated. It was quite clear why they so drastically needed maintenance, and equally clear why they’d had so little. I believe that this planting has been torn out.

At Naumkeag in Stockbridge, MA, a similar deal. Fletcher Steele designed a beautiful mass Pyracantha planting on a bank below the drive, but neither I, an intern at the time, nor anyone on The Trustees of Reservations permanent staff had the asbestos legs, hands, or arms that would have made a good pruning job possible. (The common name for Pyracantha is Firethorn.)

Pyracantha has a stunning berry display, as well as some of the wickedest thorns you'll ever come across, mostly hidden under the berries and leaves (one is visible in the upper right hand corner of this photo).

Pyracantha has a stunning berry display, as well as some of the wickedest thorns you'll ever come across, mostly hidden under the berries and leaves (one is visible in the upper right hand corner of this photo).

The best we could do was to snip down the most obvious vertical and horizontal shoots to keep the whole thing in bounds, and just let the plants fend for themselves. I’m not sure that planting is still there, either, though in the name of historic authenticity, it may be.

However and wherever a mass planting is used, it makes sense to understand not just the look of the plant species used, but also its habit, its limitations (thorns, for instance, or a tendency toward brittleness or over-enthusiastic suckering), and the opportunities you may be closing off in using it — not least of which might be the willingness of maintenance staff to take care of it, if it’s a difficult species.

Masses can help shape space, which is what we aim to do. At the same time (perhaps I’ve said this before), it’s not a bad idea for landscape architects to get out there themselves and work with as many plants as possible in person — to do some planting, do some pruning, do some moving — to understand how these vital design elements really work in the landscape, and what it takes to keep a design looking the way you want it to look.

Read Full Post »

Here’s a quick post to alert readers to the Massachusetts Arborists Association Special Seminar and Demonstration on air tool use. A team of four arborists — Mike Furgal, Matt Foti, Rolf Briggs, and Dave Leonard — will be showing how compressed-air tools can be used in arboricultural work (root forensics, bare-root planting, bare-root transplanting, shrub moving, etc.), and will discuss the advancements that this technology provide those working with or using woody plants in the landscape.

The seminar will be on September 10 at Elm Bank, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s property in Wellesley, MA — check the MAA link above for registration information. Registration is not limited to arborists, so interested landscape architects and contractors can go and see this work. I highly recommend signing up; last year’s seminar at Matt Foti’s farm, where Mike Furgal debuted the air-tool transplanting method, was really outstanding, and this year there’s bound to be even more information available and a great deal of informed and informative discussion.

One point: Bare-root transplanting, either with an air-tool or by root-washing, may never replace other methods of transplanting. But for specimen tree transplanting, where the value of an existing tree merits the effort involved, it is currently the gold standard. The number of roots retained with bare-root transplanting prevents the tremendous stress caused by other methods, and should be considered a valuable tool in the kit available to landscape architects, arborists, and contractors.

Bare-rooting allows for the moving of a tree this large in less than one day...

Bare-rooting allows for the moving of a tree this large in less than one day...


while preserving this much root mass.

while preserving this much root mass.

Read Full Post »

Tom Ryan*, my first landscape architecture mentor, and I have discussed the desirability of specifying that the trees and shrubs we design into a site be planted bare root whenever possible. As long as the roots can be kept moist — something now entirely possible with the use of hydrogels — most nursery-grown plants fare better, are more apt to be planted in a way that promotes their future health, and are less expensive than B&B plants. And we all know that healthier plants mean more long-lived designs….

Nina Bassuk and the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell have put up on the web an outstanding illustrated tutorial on how to plant shrubs and trees bare root.

One of the challenges for landscape architects is to get more nurseries to offer bare-root plants for sale. Currently, balled-and-burlapped and container-grown are the most available kinds of woody plants in the nursery-to-contractor trade. Like any business, nurseries respond to demand.

Like any business, nurseries respond to demand. Years ago, I was having a casual chat with the president of a local nursery and garden center, and asking why plant selections were limited to a number of fairly standard species and cultivars (I had recently assembled a plant list that specified some more unusual species than his large nursery carried). He told me that if his nursery responded to demand; without greater demand for more variety, his business stuck with the standard choices. If more contractors were to bring him more complex lists, his nursery would be happy to accommodate them. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg argument — but essentially it means that continued and persistent demand will get results.

If landscape architects, through our planting choices and plant specifications, possess the ability to influence nursery offerings, then why shouldn’t we also be able to influence the method with which those offerings are packaged? With a greater understanding of the benefits of bare-root plants, perhaps more of us will start to specify bare-root plants, and so create the demand for nurseries to meet. It’s an idea worth exploring.

If you have had experience specifying bare-root plants for a project, we’d love it if you would write in and tell us about it.

Chionanthus retusus, Swan Point Cemetery

Chionanthus retusus, Swan Point Cemetery

*This September Tom will be named a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects — a great honor for any landscape architect, and one that he fully deserves.

Read Full Post »

The project showcased in the last post continued this week, with the bare-root transplanting of five London Plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia) and a mature crabapple. Again, Matthew R. Foti Landscape and Tree Service was the prime arborist on this site in a Boston suburb — but this week the Foti crew was joined by Mike Furgal, who was the first arborist to use the air tool for bare-rooting trees in this way.

Mike has been doing this work a bit over five years, and his expertise was the basis for the bare-root workshop sponsored by the Massachusetts Arborists Association and hosted by Matt last August. Neither arborist had moved this many trees of this size — the London Planes ranged from 11 inches dbh to 13″ dbh — and in teaming up they brought all their knowledge to bear to the challenges of this particular project. (The homeowner figured she had hired the A team, given the pair’s depth of knowledge and breadth of experience.)

I took a lot of photos during the first day, and returned today to shoot more. My colleague Bruce Jones and I also shot extensive videotape of the process, which is currently in editing, and will explain the sequence of bare-root transplanting using compressed air (watch this blog for word that it’s done and available).

To avoid computer-use burnout (mine), I’m posting one batch of photos today, and will add another post with more in a few days. I promise, this first batch of images will be plenty to digest for a while….

The site before the five London Planes get moved.  The first tree to be excavated and moved is the one furthest from the camera, just to the right of the white trailer.  These trees flanked a driveway; in this photo the driveway asphalt has been taken up and the gravel base has been partially removed.  Trees are located 3-4 feet from the drive edge.

The site before the five London Planes get moved. The first tree to be excavated and moved is the one furthest from the camera, just to the right of the white trailer. These trees flanked a driveway; in this photo the driveway asphalt has been taken up and the gravel base has been partially removed. Trees are located 3-4 feet from the drive edge.


The mini excavator has dug a partial trench; the trench must be dug in sections, or it would be too difficult to reach in and haul out the blown soil.  A climber is in the tree, tying in lines to be used later during transport.

The mini excavator has dug a partial trench; the trench must be dug in sections, or it would be too difficult to reach in and haul out the blown soil. A climber is in the tree, tying in lines to be used later during transport.


Bare-rooting has begun, and one pigtail of roots is already tied to the tree's trunk.  The tree did not extend any roots into the gravel driveway base, so it only has 3-4 feet of root mass on that side.  It did extend its roots out parallel to the driveway, and radially out into the lawn.  A good depth of soil also let it sink its roots quite deep --  2-3 feet -- into the ground.  Mike Furgal is in the green jumpsuit and facemask.

Bare-rooting has begun, and one pigtail of roots is already tied to the tree's trunk. The tree did not extend any roots into the gravel driveway base, so it only has 3-4 feet of root mass on that side. It did extend its roots out parallel to the driveway, and radially out into the lawn. A good depth of soil also let it sink its roots quite deep -- 2-3 feet -- into the ground. Mike Furgal is in the green jumpsuit and facemask.


Pigtailed roots, and short roots along the driveway edge.

Pigtailed roots, and short roots along the driveway edge.


Good deep soil, good deep roots -- everywhere but at the gravel.

Good deep soil, good deep roots -- everywhere but at the gravel.

Lots of activity at the tree:  two air-tool excavators, an mini excavator digging the trench, a Bobcat taking soil away, and Matt Foti assessing progress.

Lots of activity at the tree: two air-tool excavators, an mini excavator digging the trench, a Bobcat taking soil away, and Matt Foti assessing progress.


Blowing out soil, getting closer to the move.

Blowing out soil, getting closer to the move.


Padding the trunk with layers of burlap for the move.

Padding the trunk with layers of burlap for the move.


Giant forks have been run under the tree, and the loader is getting ready to lift it.  Four taglines are visible in this shot; they won't prevent the tree from falling, but help indicate how it is balanced during the move.

Giant forks have been run under the tree, and the loader is getting ready to lift it. Four taglines are visible in this shot; they won't prevent the tree from falling, but help indicate how it is balanced during the move.


Lifting and backing, slowly and very carefully.

Lifting and backing, slowly and very carefully.


A pause for the forks to be positioned more firmly.

A pause for the forks to be positioned more firmly.


Big machine, bigger tree.  The root plate on this tree extended about 18 feet across at its maximum width.  Transporting a large, upright live tree is a slow-speed operation.

Big machine, bigger tree. The root plate on this tree extended about 18 feet across at its maximum width. Transporting a large, upright live tree is a slow-speed operation.


Compare this root plate to that of a B&B tree, or a tree-spaded one (though this tree is too large for a tree spade), and it's clear what an advance this technology promises to be in benefiting the health of trees to be transplanted.  The tree's energy reserves are largely stored in the roots; save the roots, reduce stress on the tree, and speed re-establishment after planting.

Compare this root plate to that of a B&B tree, or a tree-spaded one (though this tree is too large for a tree spade), and it's clear what an advance this technology promises to be in benefiting the health of trees to be transplanted. The tree's energy reserves are largely stored in the roots; save the roots, reduce stress on the tree, and speed re-establishment after planting.


The tree, post-planting.  The arborists assessed how deep the root mass was and how it was formed, and dug the planting hole to accommodate, roughly, its form.  Once the tree is placed in the hole, the roots are spread out radially by hand, and loam shovelled in around, under, and over them.  Watering starts during the digging process, once the tree has been levelled, so that a loam slurry anchors the root plate and tree to its new site.  A well is formed to retain moisture and more water is added.

The tree, post-planting. The arborists assessed how deep the root mass was and how it was formed, and dug the planting hole to accommodate, roughly, its form. Once the tree is placed in the hole, the roots are spread out radially by hand, and loam shovelled in around, under, and over them. Watering starts during the digging process, once the tree has been levelled, so that a loam slurry anchors the root plate and tree to its new site. A well is formed to retain moisture and more water is added.


Two to four inches of mulch is added around the tree, and kept away from the trunk.

Two to four inches of mulch is added around the tree, and kept away from the trunk.


Minor pruning to fix a lamppost-branch conflict.

Minor pruning to fix a lamppost-branch conflict.


The transplanted tree seven hours later, in its new home.

The transplanted tree seven hours later, in its new home.

Matthew R. Foti Landscape and Tree Service, Lexington, MA – lead arborist
Furgal Tree and Landscape, Northborough, MA – consulting arborist
Robert Hanss Inc. Landscape Construction — landscape contractor
Reed Hilderbrand — landscape architects (Chris Moyles, project manager)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »