Tawes Plaza Garden

What makes us choose to linger in one space or pass quickly through another? Amenities will help us to pause, such as benches and seat walls; the sheltering shade of the tree canopy; perhaps the sound of water. Yet without a diversity of plants to punctuate the seasons, a landscape may never be a garden.

A major renovation of Tawes Hall was completed in August of 2009 with classes resuming in September of that year. The original scope of the project did not include landscape changes on the east façade and surrounding plaza, but it was clear that this presented an opportunity to correct certain landscape issues and redefine the space. Large southern magnolias that obscured the east windows and impacted the foundation were replaced with a newer upright cultivar, Magnolia grandiflora ‘Alta’ and Magnolia x loebneri ‘Spring Snow’ which joined star magnolia, Magnolia stellata, in the landscape, diversifying representation of this genus. A tall screen of Foster holly, Ilex x attenuata ‘Fosteri’ that concealed the view of the east entrance from Campus Drive was replaced with a new mixed planting of much lower shrubs and perennials chosen for landscape interest throughout the year. White Out rose, Rosa x‘Radwhite’ PPAF, a recent hardy shrub rose introduction with excellent re-blooming and disease resistance, is one of the key plants in this garden.

While enhancing the attractiveness of the plaza, the new planting scheme has encouraged both people and pollinators to spend a little more time in the area. The renovation also broadened the plant palette found within the arboretum and botanic garden collection by introducing unrepresented species or additional newer cultivars of existing species, including: tall Stewartia, Stewartia monadelpha; Issai Beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai’; White Dome® Smooth Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Dardom’’; Camellia x ‘Winter’s Snowman’; Tiger Eyes Staghorn Sumac, Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’; Geranium ‘Rozanne’ or Hardy Cranesbill; and ‘Kim’s Knee High’ Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea ‘Kim’s Knee High’.

University of Maryland horticulturist Sam Bahr was responsible for the landscape design, and Lorenz, Inc. of Baltimore, MD was the installation contractor.