Native Corporate Landscape
The COO of this well-known healthcare company visited our office to explore the idea of building a Native Corporate Landscape at a new retirement village. The facility was being built within a large undisturbed forested area and the company wanted a landscape that would naturally blend into the surroundings. The native corporate landscape needed to satisfy three major criteria: highly visual and tactile (for the elderly to enjoy), very low maintenance, and relatively static (won’t change or move around much).
ArcheWild took on the challenge and, with some conceptual assistance from our friends at Carter van Dyke Associates, Inc., designed an ericaceous-dominated landscape with copious ground covers to manage weeds. Core species included a variety of rare native azaleas that grow just 2-3′ tall, high-bush blueberry, yellow root, lobed tickseed, and dwarf iris. Tennessee coneflower and closed bottle gentian provide mid-to-late season color. Two fringetree flank either side of the entryway for a formal aesthetic. Later, some oldfield juniper were added to provide some evergreen structure to the landscape.
Native Soil Building
Some serious changes to the soil were required to make this set of species perform optimally. The in situ soil was severely compacted clay with concrete aggregates; a disaster for ericaceous species. The new soil creation process turned out to be the most time-consuming and expensive part of the project. All concrete bits were hand-removed. Almost 20 yards of clay soil were excavated and used elsewhere. An equal amount of low-nutrient, high pH organic materials were blended onsite with some soil to create the planting bed. Various bacterial and fungal species were introduced to provide a long-term nutrient transport capability in the soil.
With this amount of soil preparation, the plants nearly planted themselves! The plants established very quickly in the new soils and the ground covers expanded outward to take up unused spaces. A pure pine bark mulch completed the installation. Weed pressure was almost non-existent until an inexpensive ‘decorative’ black mulch was accidentally applied with about a dozen nasty weed species along for the ride. Important Note: Please only use high-quality composted mulch materials from a reputable supplier.
Residents pondered what the blue/black berries might be until we showed them by eating some right from the bush. Most had never seen a blueberry shrub before! Now, it’s hard to find an unripened blueberry; residents compete to see who can get up the earliest and raid the blueberry patch.
All-in-all, a very successful project and a handsome, edible, native corporate landscape. Plenty of edges were left available to decorate with seasonal annuals, which we think gives the landscape a very nice touch.
Scroll through the images at the top of the page to explore different elements of its construction and design.
All plant images © 2012-2019 ArcheWild.