Renovating a Conifer Garden

Renovating a Conifer Garden

In August of 2005 during the national meeting of the American Conifer Society (ACS) in Philadelphia, attendees visited the Scott Arboretum for tours of our collections and for lectures. It was at this meeting that we first started discussing the possibility of the Arboretum being home to an American Conifer Society Reference Garden. I plan to chronicle the process of developing an ACS Reference Garden at the Scott Arboretum. I hope these posts provide you with insight on how to renovate an old garden.

Currently the ACS has reference gardens in Oregon and Massachusetts. These gardens must represent at least eight different genera and thirty different species, cultivars, etc. Over the next couple of years, I continued discussions with ACS board members Bill Wells and Ridge Goodwin about the possibility of having such a garden here at Swarthmore.

On April 4th 2008, a group of representatives from the Scott Arboretum and the ACS convened at the Scott Arboretum to discuss plans for developing a Reference Garden. The following attended this meeting: Walter Cullerton; Marty Brooks, Rare Plant Nursery; Ridge Goodwin, Half Moon Nursery; Phin Tuthill, R. P. Tuthill and Associates; Bill Thomas, Chanticleer Foundation, and representing the Scott Arboretum: Claire Sawyers, Director; Shari Edelson, Curatorial Intern; Rhoda Maurer, Collections Documentation and Projects Manager; and Andrew Bunting, Curator.

The Committee established the following goals for the development of this garden:

1) Develop a suitable list of conifers for inclusion in the garden
2) Develop a conceptual plan and a planting plan
3) Review the design
4) Refine plant list and plan
5) Plan removals
6) Site preparation
7) Plant garden

Since April, several of the steps have been completed in the process of creating a ACS Reference Garden at the Scott Arboretum. Several ACS members including Bill Wells, Ridge Goodwin, George Smith, Martin Brooks, Bill Thomas, Phin Tuthill, and Richard Bitner submitted lists of suggested conifers. These lists were compiled and collated according to ACS conifer sizes: miniature, dwarf, intermediate, and large; and ACS conifer forms: globose, pendulous, narrow upright, broad upright, prostrate, spreading, irregular, and culturally altered.

On April 30th, Shari Edelson, Bill Thomas, and I evaluated the current Dwarf Conifer Collection (the future site of the ACS Reference Garden) to decide what existing plants should be kept and which plants should be removed. We developed a list of 25 plants which we recommended for removal.

As part of the Conifer Society’s dedication to this project they agreed to donate $2,325.00 toward professional design fees. In June, we hired local landscape designer Jules Bruck of Evolution Landscape Design to start working on the conceptual plan for this garden. She has been given the distilled list of recommended conifers for this area and has visited the site several times in order to begin her design work.

Jules will develop a final conceptual plan which will be taken to the Conifer Society for their review. Upon approval, she will then begin the work on the detailed planting plan. Look for the final design on the blog in February.

The next step will include plant removals, plant procurement, and a phased planting plan.

Andrew Bunting
abuntin1@swarthmore.edu
4 Comments
  • bev
    Posted at 09:19h, 03 December Reply

    I am interested in which plants you chose to remove and why. I volunteer at a small public garden in Md. which has an old conifer garden and is facing the same issues.

  • Andrew Bunting
    Posted at 11:54h, 03 December Reply

    We have actually made a detailed list of removals. Our decisions were based on importance to the collections, quality of the specimen and duplication.

    Andrew Bunting, Curator

  • Niall McMorrow
    Posted at 22:06h, 17 August Reply

    Does the blog continue into 2009? Unfortunately I can only find this posting made in December 2008. Thanks.

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