Rose Garden
Neighborhood Association

Windscreen Planting for Allentown Rose Garden

April 04, 2013 5:14 PM | Janet Gross (Administrator)

RGNA will donate funds for the plants required for a windscreen planting in the Rose Garden.  Our own Claudia Steckel developed the following plan which has been approved by the Parks Department:

The following native trees and shrubs are suggested for a windscreen planting at the west end of the Rose Garden (just west of Greek sculpture) to help protect the roses from the windburn they are increasingly experiencing, according to the City Parks Department, since the trees in that area have been lost over recent years to severe storms. This area is approximately 4,750 square feet (95’ x 50’) with the longer dimension running north - south.

The use of native plants in the design is especially warranted since Allentown has been designated an Audubon Bird Town (the first Pennsylvania city to carry the designation, awarded in 2011); having been so, the City bears a special responsibility, indeed is privileged, to use native plantings whenever possible to provide bird and other wildlife benefit (especially critical is that benefit native plants provide in harboring the native insect species that are a critical food source required by a majority of bird species).

Trees selected include a mix of coniferous and deciduous species that can tolerate the alkaline conditions of our area and are of limited height attaining an average of 15 to 25 (30) feet - which will be far less prone to “blow-downs’ during storms than would be taller trees. The few shrubs selected will reach 10 to 15 (rarely 20) feet at maturity. Among the shrubs, three native rose species have been chosen as border plants readily viewable along the east and south (leeward) sides of the windscreen in the hope that they will be acceptable as a suitable transition in keeping with the rose garden theme as visitors pass by the informal windscreen area in entering or exiting the formal Rose Garden area.

The draft plan shows the plantings in a staggered, slightly loose conformation which allows the wind to be slowed as it’s redirected through the plantings, a scheme supported by the latest research which demonstrates the former habit of using a single, dense row of conifers as a windscreen creates a higher probability of blow-downs as strong winds buffet a seemingly resistant wall of plants which encourages winds to whip around the screen edges in a still forceful manner, free to cause damage beyond.

The plan includes an eight to ten (8 to 10)-foot wide grass buffer along the north side of the walking path (west of the Greek sculpture) and a three (3)-foot wide grass buffer at the base of the slopes along the north and west (windward) sides of the planting area for aesthetics and also - perhaps more importantly - to promote safety for both park staff and visitors during the necessary management of the area.

Trees: Atlantic white cedar, dwarf variety (3 or 4 as “grounding” elements) Eastern hemlock variety - dwarf variety, Serviceberry, Hornbeam, Eastern redbud, Flowering dogwood (creamy white)

Substitiutes may include bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia), hawthorn (Crateagus spp.) if any of the above are unavailable.

Shrubs: Common witchhazel, Red Chokeberry, Meadow rose, Pasture rose, Carolina rose, Wild rose, Virginia rose

Substitiutes may include choke cherry (Prunus virginiana), wild plum (P. americana), spicebush (Lindera benzoin) if any of the above are unavailable.

C. Steckel, RGNA Park and Garden Committee, March 25, 2013 

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