Recently, we noticed comments from a new visitor to GGW, Adam Woodruff of Adam Woodruff Landscapes, LLC, in Clayton, Missouri. We visited his blog and were impressed by his design work, so we invited him to join us as a guest contributor to share his experience with gardening on a grand scale.
All too often, commercial landscapes consist of uninspired swaths of turf and shrub masses with pockets of color to accent corporate signage and key entry points. Weed barriers and rock are favored over blooming groundcovers; diversity is forfeited for ease of maintenance. However, a well-designed garden meant to enhance the site and architecture of a building can do much more for a business than may be obvious.
A garden’s visual impact on the streetscape, for instance, is significant. Lush, seasonal flower borders are an unexpected sight in commercial landscapes, and their color, texture and movement draw the attention of passers-by. The garden effectively acts as an advertising banner, helping to distinguish a business from its competitors. Establishing a garden also improves the aesthetics of a neighborhood, representing an investment on the part of a business to the community it serves.
In 2004, Bank of Springfield (BOS) Chairman and CEO Tom Marantz had a visionary idea – to envelop his bank’s building with lush gardens – and I was commissioned to translate Marantz’s vision into reality. At the time, BOS was doubling the size of its flagship facility at 3400 West Wabash Avenue in Springfield, Illinois. The 3-acre site was in essence a blank canvas: just turf and a few ash trees. The chief consideration of the design process was to boldly impact the streetscape. To accomplish that goal, I designed naturalistic, yet vibrant, flower borders scaled to the site.
The gardens cover 22,000 square feet and include a massive perennial and annual bed running the length of the bank’s façade. Several auxiliary flower beds dot the property, echoing color and texture rhythms found in the main bed. Annuals, which represent 40% of the developed bed space, are essential to the success of the gardens, as they ensure consistent bloom. They are woven throughout the plantings to create a tapestry of color and visual interest. I redesign the annual plantings each year to allow for variety and changes in the color palette. Shrubs, roses, grasses, and perennials provide the backbone of the gardens, providing necessary structure through all seasons.
BOS enjoys considerable attention for its community investment. The gardens have been recognized locally and regionally in design competitions. The property sits on one of Springfield’s most highly traveled thoroughfares, and according to Springfield’s Mayor Timothy J. Davlin, “the gardens are truly the talk of the town and demonstrate what a dramatic impact well-designed landscaping can have on a property.”
In his next post, Adam is going to share more details about the plants that have been star performers in the BOS landscape. For more information on Adam and his design work, visit www.adamwoodruff.com.