Posted tagged ‘hardscape’

A Visit to a Memorial in Downtown DC

May 24, 2014

Several weeks ago, on a visit to the National Building Museum with a friend, I came across the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial for the first time. Located in the Judiciary Square area of downtown Washington DC (in the 400 block of E Street, N.W.), the memorial honors law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial

The memorial occupies a large plaza space in front of the National Building Museum and is reachable by Metro’s Judiciary Square stop.

The circulating pool in the center is a popular site for birds refreshing themselves, but the most striking feature of the memorial is two long curving walls of blue-gray marble walls, carved with the names of over 2000 officers killed in the line of duty (new names are added regularly).

National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial

A portion of one of the walls carved with names. Flowers are left as tributes, and sometimes photos.

From a design standpoint, the curving walls also provide a place for rest, reflection, and a respite if it is sunny thanks to the carefully pruned linden tree hedges that reminded me somewhat of the hornbeam hedges at Dumbarton Oaks. You can choose one side or the other of the plaza to avoid the sun if it’s very bright.

National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial

One of the curved pathways. There is a seatwall on one side of each of the paths on either side of the plaza while the other wall is carved with names.

At the entrance to each of the curved pathways, there are sculptures of an adult lion protecting its cubs – symbolic of the protective service provided by law enforcement officers to the public.
National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial

National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial

The day I visited, there were flowers bedecking all of the lion statues.

The center of the memorial is a large plaza, planted with honey locust trees, which cast high, light shadows in summer – perfect for sheltering people walking across the plaza.

National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial

The center plaza part of the memorial.

The memorial is about three acres in size and apparently is filled with daffodils in bloom in the spring. For more information about its history and events that are held there periodically, please visit its website.

 

 

Iron in the Garden

March 28, 2014

I have a thing about ornamental metal work in the garden. I like it a lot, if it’s well designed and works with the space it’s in.

There are so many ways to use it – benches for a start. OK, so they probably aren’t as comfortable as wooden benches, but they can really smarten up the space. The Victorian style of this iron bench works well with the Ripley Garden.

ornamental ironwork, garden benches, Ripley Garden, Smithsonian Museum

A heavy, well-painted iron bench invites visitors at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Garden.

More commonly, you may come across beautiful garden gates and fences to add a special touch to the garden; to let passers-by look but not touch, or just to serve as a backdrop to a glorious planting area.

ornamental ironwork, garden gates, Charleston gardens

This circular design on a gate leading to a small garden in Charleston SC is inviting. I wanted to step inside!

ornamental ironwork, garden gates, Charleston gardens

Detail of an ornamental gate in Charleston. Love the brass insets in the shape of a star and flourishes.

garden gate, Corinna Posner, ornamental ironwork

A custom-designed iron gate in a northwest DC garden designed by Corinna Posner of European Garden Designs.

ornamental ironwork, fences, Magdalen College

A glorious iron fence with decorative panels at Magdalen College, Oxford sets off the herbaceous border in front of it with style.

ornamental ironwork, Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace’s gates are very grand and have lots of nice glittery gold bits.

Then there are opportunities to think outside of the box a little bit, either practically or to add a stand-alone sculpture to a space.

ornamental ironwork, Chanticleer Garden

A custom-made bike rack near the parking lot at Chanticleer – where form mimics function perfectly.

ornamental ironwork, Morris Arboretum

Another iron bike rack, this one at the Morris Arboretum outside Philadelphia.

ornamental metal sculpture, University of Georgia Botanical Garden

A freestanding metal sculpture (OK, probably not iron!) that would look right at home in someone’s garden. This, however, is found at the University of Georgia’s Botanical Garden (in Athens, Georgia).

What about the front garden, you say? Small space? How about an interesting railing or two?

ornamental ironwork, railings, Chanticleer Garden

Chanticleer’s magic includes a whimsical iron railing with supports that look like plant tendrils.

ornamental ironwork, railings, Georgetown gardens

Iron railings enclosing a front stoop in Georgetown are designed along a musical theme – a lyre.

For something really out of the box – if you have a sizeable garden – consider rusted ornamental orbs like these or commissioning something from Andrew Crawford’s ironworking shop in Atlanta. Or let me know if you’ve come across something in your travels you’d like to share, and I’ll add it to the list!

 

Powell Street Promenade

September 20, 2013

In July I headed to the Bay Area for a few days, camera in hand, to visit one of my sons. I had one full day, and several mornings, to devote to photography in and around where I was staying – the Union Square area of San Francisco. Yup, near all those “little cable cars.”

San Francisco, Powell Street Promenade

The cable cars’ routes include one up and down Powell Street, turning around at the BART station of the same name. iPhone photo via Hipstamatic.

I was planning primarily to shoot architectural sights while there (and some of those will be featured in a later post). Imagine my surprise when right outside my door was an innovative landscape project by Walter Hood, the Powell Street Promenade.

Underwritten by Audi at a cost of $890,000, the Promenade consists of eight six-foot-wide “parklets,” carved out of traffic lanes and abutting the sidewalk.  Given the huge numbers of tourists travelling Powell Street on a regular basis, having an attractive, protected spot to step out of the flow of people and chat with friends, sit down for a bit, or park your bike while you make a call or stop in a store is a great idea.

Powell Street Promenade, San Francisco, Walter Hood

These aluminum structures can be used as little tables for a snack or to rest your packages on.

Powell Street Promenade, San Francisco, Walter Hood

A bike rider takes a break to chat with a friend on the Promenade.

There are a few built-in benches, which always seemed in high demand.

Powell Street Promenade, San Francisco, Walter Hood

A pedestrian takes a break, out of the flow of the constant sidewalk traffic.

All of the structures are fabricated from aluminum, which forms “rail ribbons.” They include planters with narrow borders that can double as a seating area in a pinch (I recognized a few plants such as Mexican heather and Yucca, others were not familiar to my East Coast eyes), guardrails to protect against the busy Powell Street traffic, and the “tables” and lower versions that Hood has suggested could be used for sleeping as well as sitting benches. No advertising is allowed in the areas, which boast free Wi-Fi. (How very Silicon Valley!)

For more details on this project, check out this blog post from the San Francisco outpost of Streetsblog. And the next time you’re in the City by the Bay, in the vicinity of Union Square, be sure not to miss this innovative design feature on Powell Street!

M-Bracing in the Front Yard

March 22, 2013

A couple of years ago, I was hired by some new clients who were moving from a large house in the suburbs (with lots of deer) to a new house within walking distance of downtown Bethesda, Maryland, close to our firm’s offices. The lot was narrow and the front faced west. Most of the front yard was going to be taken up by a large two-car-wide driveway, and the husband wanted a shade tree to replace one that had been taken down. The wife wanted an ornamental tree, but she also wanted to be able to grow herbs and vegetables, something that hadn’t been possible in her other garden because of the deer. I proposed including some raised beds in the front yard because there simply wasn’t enough sun in the back garden, and she agreed.

So here’s the plan I came up with. I needed them to be as unobtrusive as possible, and far enough away from the street so that passers-by wouldn’t be tempted to pick tomatoes or nip off a few herbs.

Landscape Projects, Inc., raised beds

The front yard plan as you face the house from the street.

See the three rectangles on the right property line, in the center of the yard? Those are the three raised beds, about 4′ x 3′ each. Stepping stones allow access to the beds for maintenance, and we planted Mazus reptans between them.

To dress up the beds, especially since this was a front yard, I had them constructed of high-quality cedar, and used M-Brace brackets on each corner.

M-Brace, Landscape Projects Inc., raised beds

Brackets on the two outer beds have a “bamboo” design cut out of the steel; the center bed’s brackets sport a “carrot” design.

By now you see where this is headed. We didn’t want the beds to sit empty all winter, just waiting for warm weather to be planted with veggies and herbs. So we planted pansies and tulips, and voila! A wonderful effect was created.

M-Brace brackets, Landscape Projects Inc.

Tulips emerging from the pansies just as the hornbeams to the left of the beds start to leaf out.

The homeowners were delighted.

spring tulips, Landscape Projects Inc.

Almost (well, not quite) like being in Holland.

M-Brace brackets, Landscape Projects, Inc.

The beds now provide color in early spring, before the Okame cherry leafs out on the other side of the driveway.

The Mazus has filled in nicely, and recently we added some Knockout roses in a little row at the front of the beds. No more deer to worry about! (Now if we could just do something about the rabbits that are devouring the liriope in the tree beds . . . .)


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