Tuesday, July 24

Corporate Landscaping

Generally, when I think of "corporate" or "public" landscaping I think rows of Japanese barberry and burning bushes, with tons of daylilies--mostly Stella D'Oro--stuffed in for summer color. Recently, some places have gone a bit trendier and started to mix in ornamental grasses as well. But a few places I haunt in the Cleveland area have really put some thought and imagination into their landscaping, and I admit to being inspired.

The city of Brecksville, which is near where I work, does interesting containers like this one. Orange celosia, Non-Stop begonias, variegated geraniums, and orange-edged acalypha stuff this container full of warm color. Its two smaller companion pots feature a bronze cordyline, more of the celosia, and silver trailing lotus vine. I like how the fine textures of the lotus vine and the asparagus fern used as filler in the larger center pot echo each other nicely.

It's not just containers that the Brecksville public works department does well, either. In their town square they have annual beds featuring dark-leaf cannas paired with ornamental grasses, bronze- and purple-leaf dahlias, and even "lowly" marigolds and salvias. Similar combinations grace the ends of long berm beds that split several 4 lane roads through town. In between the annual beds these berms still show 3+ seasons of color thanks to a low-maintenance mix of euphorbias, Russian sage, spring bulbs and various grasses.

Another place that does annual color well is Crocker Park, and upscale "shopping community" in Westlake. Some of their great containers include large bronze-glazed ceramics planted with just one type of orange- and yellow-flecked coleus, and huge pots with forest-worthy stands of dark-leaf cannas underplanted with enough cascading pineapple mint to keep me in tea for a decade.

The adjacent (and older) Promenade shopping center has long boasted wonderful landscaping in small beds that had been inset in the sidewalks, as well as a large burst of color in the fountain area that separates my favorite Borders bookstore from a large cineplex. Hardy hibiscus, various roses, and large mugo pines have formed the backbones of this area for the past few years, but the annuals really make the area special during the summer months. (You can click on any of the pictures to see details.)

In the first picture you see the hibiscus tucked in amongst a red-flowering, red-leaf celosia and a red-and-yellow flowering lantana. The silvery carpet underneath it is 'Silver Falls' dichondra. In the second picture, you see another bed with hibiscus and red celosia, but this one includes white geraniums, dark purple angelonia, and the refreshing combination of 'Cerveza 'n Lime' plectranthus and blue fescue.


A nearby bed goes more for the cool end of the color wheel with blue fescues, bronze cordyline, white petunias, Mexican heather, some kind of dark purple alternanthera, yellow-variegated grass, and 'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper. The black-eyed susan appears to be a self-seeded accident at first glance, but it adds some much-needed height there and a great leaf contrast as well so I believe that it was an intentional addition.

See the yellow coleus edging the separate bed further back in picture two? It compliments the yellows and purples in this front bed so nicely, and also leads your eye past the edge of the bed and over the sidewalk into the next area of color. That's another thing they do particularly well in this maze of beds around the fountain.

I am learning a few tricks from both of these public landscaping examples. From Brecksville, I am learning how to work with annuals that have interesting leaves and artfully combine them. From Crocker Park, I am learning to better use annuals to fill in my regular planting beds. I don't really know why, but I tend to keep my annual color in containers instead of putting them directly in the ground... now I see what I've been missing!

And from both, I'm getting ideas on how better to echo the colors and textures of key plants to make for a cohesive look in the garden. Hopefully learning these lessons will help keep my garden from being too "bitty"... but I'll have more thoughts to share on that score tomorrow.

14 comments:

Rose said...

Thanks! You have given me some thought about looking at the public landscape in my local area to get ideas about design and what will work best in this planting zone (which is hot and humid, and rainy too this year).

http://gardeningforhealth.blogspot.com

kate said...

The public landscaping there is light years' ahead of ours. Masses of petunias planted in one colour dominate the landscape.

I like the use of texture and colour in the containers. Annuals really can add a lot in flowerbeds too ... this is the first year where I've put more annuals in my border. They are a bit like summer workhorses in that they continue blooming throughout the summer while the perennials bloom and then subside.

Chitweed said...

There are wonderful public landscapes in your area. They are great examples for people to take ideas from, whether they are experienced gardeners or beginners.

Layanee said...

Kim; I love this post! It shows that there are alternatives to red salvia and yellow marigolds. I just took pictures yesterday of some public plantings which I plan to share with anyone who cares to read so it is important to me also! People copy what they see and we all benefit from seeing diversity. I really like all of these plantings and the first container is very special! Hot colors are in!

Carol said...

Kudos to the landscapers and gardeners in your area who are doing something different. Thanks for an interesting post.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

David in Greensboro NC said...

I enjoyed this post; it's nice when you see that someone has put some thought and creativity into "public plantings." Thanks for writing; this will make me look more closely at the plantings around Greensboro. (I always like to read something that makes me pay more attention to the things that I look at but never see.)

meresy_g said...

That is really inspired landscaping for public areas. I don't think we have anything like that around where I live, but perhaps I need to pay closer attention. Great post with some great ideas.

Karen said...

These are very interesting plantings. I especially like the second photo with the hibiscus and celosia. I have neighbours who fill large beds with annuals, and that turned me off the concept because they have no idea about design (they're nice people, don't get me wrong). But anyway, seeing it done RIGHT is much more inspiring. ;-)

Yolanda Elizabet said...

The landscaping in your area is done very well. They are not afraid to try something new I see. ;-)

BTW there are some tricks to keep your garden from looking too "bitty", I will post on that subject soon.

Thanks for the lovely pics Kim, very uplifting!

Me said...

I really like the third and last...

Blackswamp_Girl said...

rose, thanks for stopping by--I enjoyed visiting your blog as well! It's funny where we get inspirations for some of our plantings, isn't it? I keep wanting to figure out how to include and homage to someone like Klimt or Mondrian in my garden in some unusual way. More thought is required there, though!

kate, these examples I showed are light years ahead of most of the corporate landscaping here, too, trust me! Annuals as garden workhorses... I like that. I need to keep that in mind for next year.

Chitweed, very true. What screws you up is when you count on a self-seeding zinnia to come back apricot and instead find cherry, right? *grin*

layanee, so there's nothing in these pictures that made your teeth hurt? :D (I still grin about that comment. And thought about it yesterday when I almost put a yellow-variegated sedum next to a red-leaf one, and cringed.) Can't wait to see what good public landscaping you found, too!

Carol, amen to that. I generally turn up my nose at these areas, so I thought it was important to show off some of the good ones.

David, I have to say that I'm honored at the thought that my blog post may make you take another glance at something you always look at but never see. That's such a lovely thought... let us know if you find anything interesting around there. :)

meresy_g, it always surprises me, too. Like I said, around here it's usually Stellas, barberries, maybe some ornamental grasses, and red salvias/dusty miller for color. Although one fabulous old donut shop in Brecksville has a huge stand of red-leaf castor beans (and nothing else) in front of its floor-to-ceiling front windows. It rocks. :)

Karen, I think you hit the nail on the head. Annuals are usually done so... wrong (I'm guilt as sin on that score--see the next post to find out what I've been doing to begonias) that I've been very turned off on the whole lot of them. I need to rethink things.

yolanda elizabet, I just did my post on bitty-ness. Any other ideas would be welcome as well--I look forward to reading your post!

me, the third one is my favorite... I have that plectranthus, and it does smell wonderful. (Much better than real beer and lime!) I really like the last one, too, but that surprises me as I have an oft-stated dislike of black-eyed susans. The mix of textures in that bed are wonderful, though, aren't they?

lisa said...

Nice! Around here, they stick with dull....I sure wish we'd have pretty and creative plantings like that. I like the planter, and the bed with the fescue best.

MA said...

LOVE that orange container! Thanks for sharing all the nice photos.

snappy said...

Hey Kim, its good that you have a gardeners eye, and can draw inspiration from what you see out and about.The council here does a wide variety of plantings in large pots, raised beds, hanging baskets, and large public displays.
In Leeds Companies sponsor floral decoration of roundabouts, so when you are stuck in traffic you can admire the bedding plants.
Cool photos and another good post.

Post a Comment

One of my favorite things about blogging is the interaction--posts are often simply the beginning of an interesting conversation! So thanks for taking the time to join the discussion, and please know that I enjoy reading each and every comment left here. I try to answer as many as I can.