Belmont Hill ResidenceContemporary Landscape, Boston
The master plan for this south-facing woodland property celebrates dramatic topography, muscular canopy trees, remnant fieldstone walls, and native stone outcroppings. Sound vegetation management principles guide each phase of installation, and the true character of the woodland is revealed. Stone walls form terraces that traverse native topography, and a meticulously crafted stone staircase provides casual passage to a gently sloping lawn knoll carved from the existing hillside. Lush perennial borders and native plant stands create edges and thresholds, and a crisp palette of traditional and contemporary materials merge––building upon the surrounding topography and site geology.
What Houzz contributors are saying:
Intimacy. Intimacy feeds and nurtures the human occupants there. Narrow openings suggest privacy, like this almost-secret pathway between the trees. There's a hidden destination, and you're not quite sure where it leads. Even though the trees tower overhead, the perennial border below is filled with all sorts of alluring plants. The senses are enlivened, and one is drawn to the fragrant catmint, the soft-to-the-touch lamb's ear and the visually exciting alliums and foxgloves.
Planting notes. Paper birch trees do not have a very long life, usually around 20 to 50 years. In exchange, they are fairly fast growing. The better the site you choose for your birch, the better its chances of hitting that 50-year mark. If you’re south of the Mason-Dixon line, you’ll want to look for another species of birch.Do not plant these birches in hot, dry microclimates. They can tolerate full sun to partial shade; the USDA recommends planting them in a location on the north or east side of the house, to keep the soil more cool. Moist (but not wet), loose soils are best. How to plant a birch tree:• Dig a hole about three times the size of the root ball. Make sure the soil is loose.• Loosen the root ball, place it in the hole, and fill the hole halfway with rich soil that won’t get compacted. • Fill the hole with water, let it drain, then fill the rest of the hole with soil.• Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch on top to keep the soil moist and cool; don’t let the mulch touch the trunk. Make sure the soil stays cool, moist and drained.
In a colder climate, you also have the perfect opportunity to experiment with a huge variety of purple bulbs and tubers. Alliums, which come in a number of different shades of purple, are always a good choice, or you can go crazy with a mix of purple tulips. Irises, with their many different shades of purple, are always a garden stalwart, but also consider the various purples offered by early spring bloomers, like crocus and grape hyacinth.
A narrow gravel walkway through the herb garden channels the view to a grove of existing paper birch trees. "These beautiful trees serve as living sculptures," notes Cunningham.