As landscape architects, we are always searching for the appropriate species to pair with a particular site. The Nursery allows us to test various cultivars in certain conditions, and to monitor their growth and success rate over time in response to various climate factors and management strategies. In some fields we are learn about how close young birches can tolerate growing together, or whether we can replicate a true thicket planting in rows, complete with groundcover. Our design work is influenced by our ability to understand the conditions in which these plants thrive. Our ability to replicate the natural growth of a species in a man-made environment is only strengthened by our understanding and insight gained in the nursery field.
Two rows of White Ash Fraxinus americana ‘Skyline’ are protected from deer grazing by tree guards.
Three varieties of Red Maple Acer rubrum define the edge of the wet meadow field and grow alongside a historic hedgerow.
Locally sourced Winterberry Ilex verticillata are planted bare root in the wet meadow field alongside wild-growing winterberry which provide natural pollination in the spring.
D e m o n s t r a t i o n
There is an opportunity to study and manage plants in the nursery as a more comprehensive community of trees, understory and groundcover. Growing some species as a community rather than a specimen allows us to gain insight on planted form, growth rate, and habitat value. Several demonstration sites are in production at the nursery. Most involve the tranplanting of collected species growing wild. These sites are thought of as restoration gardens for cultivating a distinct plant community that is worthy of study and replication. The American Chestnut Plot is a seedling orchard planted in the spring of 2013 in partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation.
Another demonstration site involves old walls at the edge of a farm field. The site is similar to the upper slopes of Mount Wachusett and neighboring hills and is being cultivated as an alpine garden, where moss and lichen growth is monitored for viability in a low-lying site. Understanding these micro-communities and what keeps them viable can lend insight into our design projects that involve shallow soil depths and green roofs.