Anchored by the I.M. Pei-designed Everson Museum of Art (at the upper edge of the photo at right), this large public plaza in the heart of downtown Syracuse (photo at right) presented a series of challenges common to many urban spaces - significant reflected heat from paved surfaces, extremely compacted soils mixed with construction rubble, exposure to large amounts of deicing materials during the winter months and, of course, an extremely limited budget for ongoing maintenance.
Charged with creating "lush" plantings throughout the site that would be attractive all year - with limited maintenance, I settled on a palette of prairie-type perennials and ornamental grasses that could tolerate extended periods of dry weather once established (above, at right). And, in those areas exposed to deicing materials, I employed massed plantings of long-blooming catmint (Nepeta), daylilies (Hemerocallis), bluestars (Amsonia) and valarian (Centranthus) (photos at right and below).
In addition to exposure to deicing materials, plant materials throughout the site must tolerate damage caused by snow-removal equipment and potential stockpiling of salt-laden snow for several months during the winter (photo below, at right).
To repair this damage, almost all of the perennials and ornamental grasses can be divided and transplanted as necessary to fill open spaces. In fact, it is anticipated that many of plant materials within these plantings will be divided every two or three years to provide transplants for existing and new landscape plantings at other County of Onondaga-owned facilities.