Out on the Streets: Temple Quay, Bristol
This is a place I went past nearly every day for 8 years as it's right by where I used to work in the centre of Bristol: in fact the office in the background of the top left photograph is the very building. At first glance, this example has the features I would usually say are what's so bad about our public planting: there's not many cultivars and most of it's just plain green and will stay that way. However, when I looked at it afresh last October, I believe whoever designed this has been quite clever. I'll tell you why and let's see what you think. You can click on the image to enlarge it if you'd like a closer look.
The bulk of the planting is fine leaved Hebe albicans and related cultivars. You see these everywhere around here as they're cheap, very low maintenance, tough as old boots and they're not really a plant of desire for people to want to come and nick them. They also flower in early summer, like the kind of soil we have around here, are suitable for any aspect and are fully hardy. I always think of them as 'poor man's box balls' as they resemble topiarised box, but don't need all that clipping and looking after. They don't get box blight either. So far, so ho hum: what makes the difference here is they've been planted in bands of subtly different colours as shown in the top right photograph.
To add some height, easy care Mahonia x media 'Charity' has been chosen - see the back of the planting in the top right photograph. I'm used to seeing a fine leaved shrubby hedge of Lonicera nitida or Cotoneaster horizontalis instead, so top marks for choosing something different this time. I don't usually go for Mahonia myself, but here they'll be providing winter scent and colour in addition to clearly marking the boundary between the office building and the main part of the street.
To highlight the planting, a wispy grass (don't ask me which one - I'm only just beginning to appreciate them) has been used to add a little extra height and movement. It's also marking the boundary between the Hebes and the sculpture. That's also unusual: the inclusion of a sculpture - a tick of approval from me.
A curved row of trees has been planted close to and echoing the line of the street boundary. Again I don't know which one's been chosen, but I like that a pyramid shape's been chosen instead of a lollipop (which I'd be tempted to do to echo the shape of the Hebes, but now feels wrong after seeing this) and the bark adds some further interest too. The photos were taken at the end of October, so you can see that the leaves stay on the tree for a long season. As they grow and mature, they'll help to screen out the main road and offices on the other side.
Finally, the planting is sited in a modern office block area - the buildings date back no further than 2000, so the design as a whole has a contemporary feel to it but contrasts nicely with the steel and lighter coloured stone and concrete of its surroundings.
So there you have it - just 3 plants, 1 type of tree and a lot of green. Sounds boring when put like that doesn't it? Having seen the photos, what do you think?
This forms my first entry for this quarter's Out on the Streets. I'll probably add some further ones this month e.g. a YAWA guide to verges. Lucy and I have a joint post planned too. If you're wondering what Out on the Streets is about, last week's kick-off post serves as an introduction and a source of ideas. There's just a couple of points from the comments on there I'd like to clarify here:
Love the idea, but I've got nothing to show you for March. That's fine - I look forward to seeing you in June. However, if the place you want to feature isn't ready yet, that doesn't matter. It could be just as interesting to show it to us in that state now, or to include as a contrast shot later if you prefer.
I've already posted something recently that fits into this topic. That's great! Just add your name and the URL of your post (not your blog) to Mr Linky below and we'll come and visit. You'll see I've already added your Florida post Mr McGregor's Daughter as I'd bookmarked it at the time: do please add the URLs of your good/bad planting posts too :)
So, whenever you're ready to post, don't forget to come back here and add it to Mr Linky. I've put an Out on the Streets link at the top of my right hand sidebar which will stay there until the end of March for this quarter's posts. Just click on the photo and it'll get you here so you can do the necessary. If you're not posting this time around, I'll set up another Out on the Streets kick-off post at the beginning of June.