Long-term Vision for Landscape and Garden Design
A few nights ago I met with a Horticulture class from the University of Cincinnati. They were touring Ault Park with their instructor, Jim Hansel. I took one of his classes at the university myself and he asked me to join them. I was rather flattered.
As we toured the gardens I asked the students to think about this space in five or ten years. What did they see? What could become a potential issue? The design of the adopt-a-plot lawn is elegant, formal and breathtaking in the spring when all the magnolias are in bloom...all the magnolias. That is the issue.
The magnolias are starting to show signs of stress and decline. One day we will lose them all; the anchor of the area's design. How can we as garden designers, managers of large parks and estates and urban planners take the desire for a formal plan such as this and incorporate a diverse planting to ensure that the crucial element of the overall design is not lost in short order to disease or age?
How do we manage the magnolias that remain in a way that will preserve the look of the area while we prepare for the inevitable; their decline? Do we harvest every other tree and install new magnolias of differing varieties? Do we begin incorporating different trees with the same structure, height and visual weight for a uniform, cohesive look?
Another issue of lesser importance but still a valid concern is the state of the gardens. One of my gardens is a shade garden and when we lose the older trees, the garden will perish if I do not plan now. I am already looking to install a small shade tree, perhaps a Witch hazel, to ensure shade for the garden when the older tree that now shades the plot expires.
I think one of the more difficult disciplines to adopt when planning garden spaces of any size is looking beyond the immediate plan to how the property will evolve 10, 15 even 30 years down the road.