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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

I like to post photos of warmer seasons while we’re in the depths of winter, to remind us that spring is not very far ahead. Here are a few scenes from a lovely botanical garden on the edge of Salt Lake City, Utah, which I visited last June.

 

Red Butte Garden 1
Allium and falling water

 

Red Butte Garden 2
Four Seasons garden

 

Red Butte Garden 3
Herb garden

 

Red Butte Garden 4
Fragrance garden

 

Red Butte Garden 5
A roof garden with a view
 
Photos by Alice Webb

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cover - WSDCC playground

Kids from impoverished sections of my city don’t often get to play in natural settings, since they typically live in apartment houses and buildings with little to no yard space. That has recently changed for some lucky preschoolers at the Webster Square Day Care Center here in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The center, which operates out of the lower level of a church, wanted to update their playground, which then consisted of scattered equipment within a sand surface. Originally their goal was to simply change the surfacing to a safer material that would be acceptable under current state requirements for day care centers. However, I convinced them to take the renovation a step further and add some nature-based features for a more enriching play experience.

My firm developed plans for this playground, and the day care center received several grants which funded the improvements over a period of a couple years. Since the budget was fairly limited, we retained the existing play equipment, keeping the larger pieces in their pre-existing locations and moving the smaller items. Plants, rocks, stepping stones, logs, water and sand play tables, musical chimes, and a vegetable garden were added to the space.

Although the playground is used exclusively by the day care center during the weekdays, it is open in the evenings and on weekends for use by neighborhood children. The kids get a lot of enjoyment out of this space, and I’m told that the natural features are particularly popular. A few “before” and “after” photos are included below to illustrate the improvements.

1 - before - west end A
BEFORE:  A couple of play panels, sand surfacing, weeds, and an ugly fence (owned by the neighbors) were all that existed on the west side of the playground. The wooded area behind the play area is on adjacent property.

 

2 - after - west end A
AFTER: Relocated play house, plants (including shrubs which will grow to hide the fence), stepping logs, & chimes. The drums are portable, stored in a nearby shed.

 


 

3 - before - west end B
BEFORE: West end of the playground

 

4 - after - west end B
AFTER:  Lots of enjoyment from a few simple features

 


 

5 - before - east end
BEFORE: East end of the playground

 

6 - after - east end
AFTER:  Rocks and plants create a space for imaginative play.

 


 

7 - before - central area
BEFORE:  Central section of playground

 

8 - after - central area
AFTER:  Existing play equipment was retained, engineered wood fiber safety surfacing was installed, and a sand table was added. An at-grade sand play area is situated behind the table.

 


 

9 - before - garden area
BEFORE:  Unused, weedy area west of the existing shed

 

10 - after - garden area
AFTER:  A raised vegetable garden for the children to learn about growing food
 
Photos by Alice Webb and the Webster Square Day Care Center staff

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The Lincoln Road pedestrian mall in Miami Beach includes a relatively new addition: a block of water gardens that evoke Florida’s Everglades. The site was designed by the landscape architecture firm of Raymond Jungles, Inc., and construction was completed in 2010. The surfaces of the water gardens are raised above the surrounding pavement, and include many native plants such as Bald Cypress, Red Mangrove, and Pond Apple. The biomorphic shapes of the gardens and seats are juxtaposed with the bold linear pattern of the surrounding pavement, creating an interesting combination of urban and natural themes.

 

Lincoln Road Mall 1
The gardens include a variety of plants that thrive in or near water, with an emphasis on native vegetation.

 

Lincoln Road Mall 2
Islands in the water gardens – these ones include large Bald Cypress trees. I’m guessing that the surrounding water somehow infiltrates the soil in the islands from below.

 

Lincoln Road Mall 3
A “dry” garden with Live Oak trees

 

Lincoln Road Mall 4
The gardens are raised above the surrounding pavement – some more than others.

 

Lincoln Road Mall 5
Mosaic surfacing forms bold stripes in the pavement.

 

Lincoln Road Mall 6
Water flows over this pond edge into a drain for recirculation.
 
Photos by Alice Webb

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This is the time of year (in New England, as least) that many of us are really longing for warmer weather, tired of shoveling snow and otherwise being secluded indoors. The following images (from my garden in spring and summer) should provide some welcome relief from the bleakness of winter:

 

Barren Strawberry
Barren Strawberry

 

Chives in bloom
Chives in Bloom

 

Cranesbills (True Geraniums)
Cranesbills (True Geraniums)

 

Crocus
Crocus

 

Fritillary butterfly on Boneset
Boneset with Fritillary Butterfly

 

Goat's Beard
Goat’s Beard with Hostas

 

Japanese Iris
Japanese Iris

 

Lace-cap Hydrangea
Lace-cap Hydrangea

 

New growth - variegated Andromeda
New Growth on Variegated Andromeda

 

Red Admiral on Enkianthus
Red Velvet Enkianthus with Red Admiral Butterfly

 

Variegated Solomon's Seal
Variegated Solomon’s Seal

 

Violets
Violets in the Lawn

 

Photos by Alice Webb

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In Portland, Oregon, there is a lovely 5.5-acre Japanese garden situated in a hilly area west of the city center, within Washington Park. It is considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan. I visited this serene setting in May a couple of years ago, and would like to share some of my photos.

 

Portland Japanese Garden A

 

Portland Japanese Garden B

 

Portland Japanese Garden C

 

Portland Japanese Garden D

 

Portland Japanese Garden E

 

Portland Japanese Garden F

 

Portland Japanese Garden G

 

Portland Japanese Garden H

 

Portland Japanese Garden I

 

Portland Japanese Garden J

 

Portland Japanese Garden K

 

Portland Japanese Garden L

 

Photos by Alice Webb

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After deciduous trees have shed their leaves in cold climates, the landscape need not be a boring and drab scene. There are a number of plants that display ornamental characteristics during the chillier months of the year, sporting colorful and interesting bark, stems, fruits, and seeds. Below are a few examples that should brighten your day!

 


A stunning display of Bloodtwig Dogwoods

 


Crabapple fruit against a backdrop of fallen Ginkgo leaves

 


Hydrangea seed heads add visual interest to the winter landscape.

 


The bark of this River Birch appears to glow in the sun.

 


Although ornamental grasses die back in winter, leaving their flower stems and foliage in place until spring adds color and texture to winter landscapes.

 


Brightly-colored Weeping Willow branches enhance a snowy park scene.

 

Photos by Alice Webb

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The Olson Family Garden at St. Louis Children’s Hospital

 

In recent years, outdoor garden spaces at hospitals have become more common, and are often included with the construction of new health care facilities. They are usually referred to as therapeutic or healing gardens. Studies have shown that access to nature in hospital settings can reduce pain and relieve stress, which in turn enhances the immune system and speeds healing. Patients aren’t the only ones to benefit; their families and heath care staff can attain relaxation in these spaces as well.

In October I had the pleasure of visiting the Olson Family Garden at St. Louis Children’s Hospital (in St. Louis, Missouri). The staff horticultural therapist kindly gave me a tour of this delightful space. Built in the late 1990s, this 8,000-square-foot rooftop garden is dominated by a lush array of greenery, mostly in raised planters, and also seasonally in movable pots. An abundance of plant materials is important in any type of outdoor healing setting. This space also includes winding paths; stepping stones through a shallow pool; fountains; interesting and fanciful art pieces; a goldfish pond; various resting spots; movable furniture; and telescopes for viewing a large park near the hospital grounds. Furthermore, the garden is lit for nighttime access and viewing.

This garden isn’t just for passive enjoyment, however. Horticultural therapy sessions are facilitated in this space, where patients engage in gardening and associated activities. These sessions have many social, psychological, physical, and cognitive benefits. In addition, programs involving crafts, puppet shows, music, and storytelling brighten the spirits of the children.

 


This beautiful scene in the garden is in springtime, viewed from the entrance. A rolling sphere fountain can be seen in the foreground. Blooming Redbud trees are situated in front of a circle of columns topped with translucent leaf-shaped panels, symbolizing nature.

 


This miniature garden appeals to all ages.

 


Stepping stones cross a wading pool…

 


…and continue between two raised planters.

 


The garden’s goldfish pond

 


A restful nook with playful windows overlooking Forest Park

 


A custom-made planter with kid- and adult- level kaleidoscopes

 


In the foreground is one of several fountains in the garden (turned off for the season). Long-range telescopes, in the background, allow visitors to view Forest Park.

 


A wonderfully whimsical art piece

 

First four photos by Gary Wangler, Horticultural Therapist, St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Remaining photos by Alice Webb, blog author

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