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Posts Tagged ‘Plants’

Aster


So we’ve started down this path, which in a time typically relatively quiet in plant color may not be such a bad thing. These Purple Dome asters gave a great show on one of my projects this fall, and enlivened the scene when other plants were fading to gold and rust.

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Blue

On a gloomy day, after a cranky post, perhaps a little visual break is in order:
RS blue

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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.
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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.

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Well, this town outside of Boston can’t be considered ‘the country’ these days, but still, there’s plenty of room for a tree to grow. This Gleditsia, unlike the two in the previous post, has plenty of room to grow, and shows what form and size a Honey Locust really wants to take:

Plenty of rooting room translates into plenty of canopy.

Plenty of rooting room translates into plenty of canopy.

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I was recently on Newbury Street in Boston. Turning away from the nifty pay-for-parking machine (these things have replaced meters on the street, and they couldn’t be more convenient, or more helpful for reducing street furniture clutter), I spotted this valiant little Gleditsia, working hard to stay alive:
What had been a typical street tree -- a standard-form Honey Locust -- was cut down at some point, and now sports shrub-like topgrowth.
A little way down the street was another Gleditsia, this one growing in a similarly sized tree pit, but intact from the saw:

Both trees work hard under severe limitations.  The far tree shows what the nearer tree could have looked like.

Both trees work hard under severe limitations. The far tree shows what the nearer tree could have looked like.


How well these characters are doing is a direct consequence of how well they’re being cared for, and of their native vitality. The far tree is impressive for its growth despite the tiny volume of root space available for it; the near tree admirable for its persistence.

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This tree has never been bare-rooted, as far as I know (though who could say, at this point?) It lives at Elm Bank, Mass. Hort’s headquarters in Wellesley, MA, and I took these photos at last week’s air-tool workshop there.

Norway spruce at Elm Bank.

Norway spruce at Elm Bank.


  Somehow it seems that Morticia Addams should come drifting into the picture to perch on this fantastic bench, sweeping a murky gloom behind her.

Somehow it seems that Morticia Addams should come drifting into the picture to perch on this fantastic bench, sweeping a murky gloom behind her.


For those of you still clicking on this site to see air-tool transplant posts, check out Taking Place In The Trees (www.takingplaceinthetrees.net).

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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.

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