The Mosaic Canada landscaping event in Jacques Cartier Parc in Gatineau deserves all the kudos it has been getting. I think it is by far the finest 150 celebration element of the past year.
One of things I was paying attention to at my last visit is how they created ‘romantic’ or emotionally bonding woodland scenes. I dont get that same feeling at city parks. What elements were put together? At first glance, it’s just a bunch of trees:
But on closer inspection, there are elevation variations, little swales, and generous use of groundcovers:
Even when they are putting out specimen trees, well spaced apart, the undercover united them into an attractive picture:
I realize that Mosaic Canada is not just like an ordinary city park, but I do think some of the elements of more sophisticated landscape manipulation could be used in our city parks. Perhaps this would require tougher plants amenable to occasional foot traffic. And maybe, just maybe, it might require some bits of curbs, walls, or even fencing (gasp ! shock !) to deter the roughshod.
I generally find Ottawa parks to be rather sterile and hard. The city loves hard surfaces, and even green ones have to drivable. Specimen trees are planted where their root bases get trod down hard. I dont think we take nearly enough care to ensure trees get off to a good start. It’s like green intentions count for more than results.
To find something as pleasing as the Mosaic copses in our official city greenspaces, I have to find “left over” spots that the landscape planners managed not to clear cut first. There’s a nice grove west of Champlain Bridge along the MUP, and here’s a small one along the Trillium path:
Elsewhere, trees are planted in rows, far apart,
making for a more formal allee that would look quite magestic and man-made if the trees ever get to a mature size:
There are some more sophisticated park elements employed at the new, temporary park that the NCC has installed at the corner of Booth and Wellington, near Claridgeland on the Flats. But city parks? Readers, please point them out ! [note: back in the 80’s the city did hire Hough to design a few city parks in the highly informal, almost wild, theme. Dufferin Park in Toronto is the master example, in Ottawa, he did Primrose Park, but many of the more attractive elements were removed in a recent makeover to make that park more interchangeable with any other city park. I chalk it up to bureaucratic fear of anything different].
next: mid october is coming soon. Ominous drum roll, please.