A few weeks ago, a good friend was passing through Boston, and I drove the 2 hours to see him. It was great catching up with said companiero over dim sum, but the best was ambling through the somewhat new Greenway together. Growing up I can remember the adventure of crossing under the Central Artery going to and fro from the North End, praying that the funky, stanky water dripping from above would not get on my red nylon Nikes, and that the freakishly large rats would not wrestle the cannoli from my hands. Thankfully, those anxieties were rarely realized.
What is in place there now is a feat. Navigation of the permitting process alone is heroic and there are spaces that are truly memorable and evocative of place amongst the highrises of downtown - which make them all the more special. Standouts for me include the plantings in several areas - layers of native vegetation, but things not so common in the "palette" of landscape plant vernacular. I loved seeing Bugbanes, Tupelos and Virginia Sweet Spire interspersed with the more ubiquitous Inkberry and Arrowwood Viburnum. The boldest move that I saw, but that sadly missed the mark was a passage filled with Dawn Redwoods - (Metasequoia glyptostroboides...one of my favorite Latin names...) and wild ginger and even some trout lily. All these plants were in poor shape and it raised a question for both my friend and I about the role of landscape dynamics - and how as designers working on contract or spec, in a fluid medium like plants, one can plan(t) for change. This entry is too small to explore this in any great detail but it's a great question and one that can prove confounding. Where there are specific criteria for buildings, roads and sewage systems, for a changing landscape and ecosystem dynamics there's more mutability ( yes there are criteria for landscape and ecological systems - but work with me for the sake of argument). For me, the controlled chaos within a garden or a landscape makes them alluring to me. I can attempt to maintain form, and some rhythm, but beyond that, I like to see what happens...Design for change is the idea, so that over time, as the landscape grows, you grow and evolve with it. That section of struggling woodland plants had no business in the baking sun where it was sited. Using an adaptive management strategy, those plants could have been cycled in when it was appropriate after some canopy had developed and some soils had been built over time - but I loose myself in design speak.
It's beautiful. It's an improvement and what a gift to the Downtown. Bravo.
|hellobore in seed|