Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Environmental Stewardship in Landscape Design

In my latest news article I mention a courtyard at The First Assembly Living Center which originally contained 22 ligustrum. My understanding is that a traditional vegetable garden was grown in front of the lisgustrum in the past. Now the residents have added roses, dianthus and annuals along with a clematis vine. This location is tough for a couple of reasons. One is limited sunlight on one wall. The other is the possiblity that there may be residents who are elder and fragile. So I have concerns about plants I would normally rate as excellent for environmentally friendly landscapes. For example, muscadines could constitute a choking hazard to certain residents, while figs would have the potential to irritate fragile skin. Plums could be somewhat thorny in my opinion although some cultivars wouldn’t be as bad as the roses which the residents recently planted. If I was in charge of the world, I would included a non astringent oriental persimmon in this design. I don’t see much danger to this plant and it should grow better here than in most areas because the radiant head from building on all sides would help protect it from winter injury. Blueberries would make a suitable addition as would service berry. I would leave some of the ligustrum for evergreen structure during mid winter although I might swap out a few of them for sasanqua camellias which have prettier or at least larger blooms. Or I might research loquat, an evergreen plant that I am not familiar with, but I think would grow and perhaps even fruit in that location since it is so protected. In the beds, asparagus, daylilies and tomatoes are easy selections giving both beauty and food.
Some of my readers may have recognized the other landscape as Taylor Glen, a Baptist retirement complex off Pitt School Road. The idea of going from 150 to 140 Burfordi’s was somewhat of a joke. Burfordi’s are good cover for songbirds and provide a food during a time when there isn’t much food. Still 20 or so is plenty for a landscape this size. If I was designing this landscape, I would include blueberries, muscadines, figs, oriental persimmons, sour cherries, service berry and crabapple within this landscape sometimes as a one for one replacement for the Burfordi hollies. I don't have any reason to create a complete landscape design, but this landscape is crying out for plant diversity and overall improvement in its environmental stewardship.

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