Friday, January 29, 2010

Thuja, Thuja, Thuja

Remember back in May when I posted those photos of Liriodendron tulipifera? At that time, the landscape installation had not been complete at the Cooper Square Hotel. Now all the paving, furnishings and additional plants have been installed, too.



I had been so tickled to see the tuliptree (an urban rarity) planted at this site and had high hopes that other off-the-beaten-path plant species would be included in the palette. Alas, I was underwhelmed when I saw that everything else is Thuja (arborvitae). Don't get me wrong -- arborvitaes are handy plants and can be used in a seamless green screen to powerful effect. For a modernish building like this hotel, I appreciate the intent.



...But this landscape just reminds me of what a friend once said at a diner over breakfast, "The thing about pancakes is that you're halfway through eating them and it's just more pancakes." Indeed. The landscape above is a bit monotonous. Also puzzling is the use of a bluestone random rectangular paving pattern. It's lovely, but it is so residential; it seems like a missed opportunity to do something contemporary and to keep in step with the building.



Now, then a bit about Thuja itself. I haven't named a species because frankly there are several of them and I have a hard time telling them apart. There's Thuja occidentalis (which is often cultivated for a darker, more vibrant wintertime green - the straight species gets yellowed in the winter), Thuja orientalis (which is cultivated to be more winter-hardy, as this species is tender in cold climates) and Thuja plicata (which has great foliage). T. orientalis, I should add, has actually been reclassified as either Biota orientalis or Platycladus orientalis but people in the landscape trade still consider it a Thuja. If you aren't confused enough by now, let's add that the common name for T. occidentalis is also white cedar, even though the plant isn't related to Cedrus but is instead in the cypress (Cupressaceae) family.

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