landscape design

Designing within the environment.

Birds eye view of Forest Understory Landscape Design Concept Plan with the following labels: Grass Patches, Forest Understory, Upper Level, Middle Level, Lower Level, Vines

concept

Forest Understory

The planting concept for The Bubble is based on the premise that it will be built in a wooded area and the landscape design will respond to that surrounding. Planters have been designed around the seating areas to enliven the space and integrate it with the forest around it. The structure itself creates a type of canopy, shading and filtering sunlight. Using understory and forest floor plants in the planters inside The Bubble will contribute to a sense of being in the middle of the forest. Rocks, logs, and leaf debris will be added to planters to maintain this forest feel. Native plants suited for dry shade will be used to minimize watering needs, which can be watered via a greywater system that collects runoff from the structure and parking lot.

Upper Level

The upper level of seating will be planted with shrubs to create a sense of enclosure and protection for people seated above ground level. Groundcover and flowering plants will be mixed in the planters to add color and texture. 

Middle Level

The middle level has the largest planters and the plantings will take advantage of this with field-like groupings of ferns and taller herbaceous species. These planters will be filled with a mix of textures and color from flowering plants. Vines will grow over the walls of the planters that are open on the side to add texture and seasonal interest at both entrance points.

Lower Level

The small planters on the lower levels will contain a mix of groundcovers and flowering plants. The plantings will remain relatively low so as not to block sight lines to the stage.

Potential Species for Forest Understory

Shrubs Include

Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), and

Mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium).

Plants Include

Blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia),

Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), 

False Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum),

Hairy beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus),

Lady fern (Athyrium felix-femina),

Pennsylvania sedge (Carex Pensylvanica),

Tall thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana),

White wood aster (Eurybia divaricata),

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), and

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum).

Vines Include 

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

Groundcovers include

Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens),

Barren strawberry (Walldsteinia fragaroides),and

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens).

Bird's eye view of Concept Plan including surrouding areas outside of The Bubble. Labels include: Forest Understory, Grass Patches, Native Lawn, and Successional Meadow

Grass Patches

The circular patches of grass designed for seating will be made of a realistic artificial turf to withstand both the climate, wear of use, and require less maintenance.

Native Lawn

The “lawn” areas surrounding the meadow and in the tree beds will be walkable areas with a maintained look that frame the landscape and show cues to care around more wild plantings. This will be a mix of native species, based on the actual site conditions, that do not require mowing and can light foot traffic.

Successional Meadow

The areas surrounding the Bubble, disturbed by construction, between the “lawn” and the forest will be planted as a meadow with clumps of shrubs that will succeed back to forest over time. This dynamic habitat offers an educational opportunity about succession, local ecologies, and disturbed landscapes. It also creates an ecotone, or transition between ecological communities, that provides important habitat for birds. The plant selection for this area will also be based on the site conditions.