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Posts Tagged ‘hostas’

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Sidewalk sadness

I walked by this narrow raised planter on E. 17th Street the other day and was shocked by the missed opportunity for creating curb appeal for the building. After all, first impressions go a long way! Needless to say, the scattered garbage, orphan Hostas and overgrown weeds aren’t doing any favors to define the value of this real estate.

It wouldn’t take much to spruce this planter up and give residents and passersby something to smile at. Check out some plant ideas below for easy ways to overhaul this planting.

Pieris japonica is a broadleaf evergreen shrub with dark green glossy leaves (bronze color when young) that produces white flowers in spring. It is relatively slow-growing but can reach a height of 6-8′ tall. A bonus is the flowers carry a sweet fragrance which can help mask various odors sometimes present on NYC streets.

Pieris japonica

Pieris japonica

Adding Euonymus alatus (common name: Burning Bush) which has bright red autumnal foliage, could increase visual interest and add a pop of color. Euonymus ‘Compactus’ may be a better suited cultivar for smaller sites since it does not grow as large as the straight species.

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Euonymous alatus with Stunning Fall Color

Viburnum plicatum, commonly referred to as Doublefile Viburnum,  is a great shrub which can grow to 8-10′ tall. Deciduous, dark green leaves turn reddish-purple in the autumn while large white flowers cover the plant in late spring/early summer.

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Viburnum plicatum with Spring Flowers

Utilize evergreens towards the back of the planter to add green year round and provide a solid foundation for the planting. Think Ilex, Taxus or Buxus. Junipers love sunnier locations and stand up to the abuse that sidewalks dish out.

Once the larger shrubs are in place, add some smaller perennials in the middle section such as: Anemone (spring flowers), Astilbe (blooms in summer/fall depending on cultivar), Spiraea (blooms in summer) and ferns (Ostrich and Painted Ferns are nice varieties) which leaf out in early summer.

Astilbe

Astilbe in Full Bloom

Don’t forget to leave some open pockets towards the front of the planting area for seasonal annuals. Spring bulbs such as Tulips, Daffodils or Snowdrops could be planted in the late Fall in the same area that the annuals are planted in. With a little sweat and a few tears (hopefully of joy) this planter could go from neglected to stunning in no time.

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I am always on the look out for noteworthy small parks, community gardens and respites from the concrete jungle. Just below 14th Street on 8th Avenue where Greenwich Avenue begins, there is a triangular park called Jackson Square bordered on the south end by Horatio Street.

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.23 acre NYC Park

A little history for you from the NYC Parks Department’s site: “The triangular shape of the park is a result of the diagonal route of Greenwich Avenue, the oldest known road in Greenwich Village. Greenwich Avenue originated as an Indian trail and was called the Strand Road by Dutch colonists. Forming the other two sides of the triangle, Eighth Avenue and Horatio Street date to 1811, when the New York legislature approved the Manhattan street grid, known as the Commissioner’s Plan. When and why the site came to be called Jackson Square is unclear. Most likely it was named after Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), the seventh President of the United States.”

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A dogwood tree in blossom (foreground). Boxwoods surround the cast iron fountain.

The ironwork at the entrances and the perimeter fencing is original to the park’s beginnings, circa 1872. There are several pin oaks that are recorded as having been planted in 1930’s. The cast iron fountain was installed in a renovation finished in 1990.

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8th Avenue Entrance to Jackson Square

There are many nice plantings in this .23 acre park. There are several groupings of variegated Solomon’s seal, a perennial plant that is wonderful in shade gardens. It’s easy to grow and will slowly spread throughout the years.

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Solomon’s seal grouping

The structure of Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum) is delicate with its arches and hanging bell shaped flowers. It will bloom from early spring until autumn (when foliage will turn golden).

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Solomon’s seal with its sweet bell shaped flower.

This planting caught my eye on the Greenwich Ave side:

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This grouping has Cherry Laurel (Otto Luyken) in the back left blooming with its white bushy flowers. The leaves are a lush dark green with a nice luster to them; it is an evergreen shrub and looks fantastic in the background of this planting. The evergreen shrub in the lower left is a Pieris Japonica (Forest Flame), with its white spring flowers in bloom, its new foliage is flame red and then fades to green as it matures.

On the right side are Hostas (Garden Treasure) with their green middle and yellow edges. A shade-loving perennial, they are a great way to add color to your garden. Hostas come in a wide range of colors from an avocado green to a light blue-green with many types of variegated options. The blooms that appear in late-summer are white or lilac colored. Mixed throughout the planting there are also spring bulbs: daffodils, tulips and muscari.

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Hostas, Boxwoods, Ferns near the fountain

Several coffee shops flank Jackson Square so grab a cup to go and go relax on one of several benches!

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