Posts Tagged ‘Carol Becker’

WHAT’S IN A NATIVAR?

BY CAROL BECKER

And what isn’t? Designers and pollinators are finding out.

FROM THE JULY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a medium-sized shrub that is appealing in sunny areas of the landscape because of its glossy green leaves; unusual fragrant, round, spiky flowers; and rust-red fall color. It’s especially useful in wet areas and rain gardens where it absorbs excess water and even tolerates standing water. Hummingbirds and butterflies favor the plant for its nectar, and 24 species of birds seek it out for its small, round nuts that persist into winter. This native of the Midwest and East Coast is easily grown and little bothered by pests in the garden. Yet it is not commonly used in built landscapes. Although everything else about this shrub is right, its growth pattern and size are not. The straight species can be quite large at 12 feet high or more, and it has an annoying habit of sending branches in all directions, so it looks willy-nilly rather quickly if it’s not pruned regularly and often.

But here come Sputnik, Sugar Shack, and Fiber Optics, cultivars of buttonbush that represent a tamed C. occidentalis. Cultivars are plants produced by selective breeding or vegetative propagation to achieve better traits for the landscape. Fiber Optics is a species mutation discovered by an inventory employee in the bare-root fields of Bailey Nurseries, says the company’s public relations and communications specialist, Ryan McEnaney. Bailey trialed the plant, a process that takes several years, and brought it to market in 2017. It has a reliably smaller size at five to six feet high and a branching habit that keeps it compact and rounded, while retaining all the desired features of the straight species.

The Fiber Optics buttonbush is what is known as a nativar. The term is not scientific but has value to the industry in (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY CAROL E. BECKER

An Australian town decides what to do with a spent quarry.

FROM THE JULY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Hornsby Quarry is like many quarries that roared with life in the 19th and 20th centuries and then suddenly fell silent because their resources were tapped out or became too expensive to extract. It is deserted today. The quarry, in Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia, has for a generation remained “the big hole in the ground”—300 meters roughly square, 100 meters to the bottom—and a major safety hazard that Hornsby Shire was forced to buy at the market rate of AU$25 million (about $16 million U.S.) after CSR Limited, a private company, ceased extracting hard rock basalt for road base material and gravel in 2001.

The Hornsby Shire Council acquired the quarry in 2002. Because it was built before reclamation laws and it was zoned as Local Public Recreation Land (technically called Open Space A) by the New South Wales Environmental Planning Act in 1994, CSR had no obligation to mitigate the site before ceasing operations, and the Shire was required by state legislation to buy it back. The huge cost of the land, set by the solicitor general, was ultimately reduced in court by AU$9 million, but the final price still cost each rate-holder (taxpayer) approximately $50 per year, for a total of 10 years, says Kurt Henkel, a landscape coordinator at Hornsby Shire.

The quarry will not remain dormant, however. Its stories—physical, historical, geographical—parallel the long development of Australia and are about to get a bold retelling. The vision for Hornsby Quarry (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY CAROL BECKER

Hoerr Schaudt's Michigan Avenue plantings in Chicago return the investment near and far.

Hoerr Schaudt’s Michigan Avenue plantings in Chicago return the investment near and far.

From the September 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

You might be in Xanadu, having lunch in an outdoor café on Michigan Avenue. You are steps from noisy traffic, but flower baskets surround every café, parkways are lush with flower beds, and every available space along the sidewalk, both public and private, is given over to gardens, urns full of flowers, statuary, and well-kept trees. A garden grows in the middle of the six-lane avenue. Twenty-five years ago, Chicago’s main downtown thoroughfare was little different from many others—you shopped or ate or saw sites or worked and lived along city streets with young trees under tree grates, with not much else that was living to separate people from constant high-speed traffic and the railroad yards.

Today it’s all different, owing to the Michigan Avenue Streetscape project, recipient of the 2016 ASLA Landmark Award, given to works of landscape architecture between 15 and 50 years old that have kept their design integrity and contribute to the public realm. The project has proved its worth for tourism, real estate, retail shopping, dining, and quality of life for the millions of people who find themselves on the avenue every year. Michigan Avenue has become a destination in itself. The Streetscape (which includes only the median plantings and not the many other streetside plantings that have followed) guides (more…)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: