60120+Landscapes appeal to our senses. The colors and textures of blooms and foliage are visually appealing. Floral fragrance and foliar aroma appeal to the sense of smell. Fruits and vegetables can provide flavor. Wind chimes, fountains and birds visiting bird feeders might add a bit of delightful sound and motion. Yet, the motion of certain plants in the breeze is rarely considered.

Weeping willow is famous for the way it blows softly in even a slight breeze. Unfortunately, it is also famous for thirsty roots, structural deficiency, and getting too big too fast. Mayten can do the same on a smaller scale, and in drier situations. California pepper is somewhere in between, since it can eventually get too big, and might have structural problems, but takes a while to do so.

Some of the various eucalypti have softly pendulous stems as well. Lemon gum and red ironbark are two of the better known specie that know how to blow in a breeze. Silver dollar gum is nice too, even though it is not as pendulous or as dynamic in the wind. Eucalypti that get too big for home gardens can be seen blowing in the wind in larger landscapes, such as parks or on freeways.

Two of the best trees for motion in the wind are not as popular as they used to be. European white birch that was so popular in the 1970s has become considerably less common that the less pendulous (but brighter white) Himalayan birch. The elegant and formerly popular Chinese elm has been replaced by modern ‘improved’ cultivars with stiffer stems, like the Drake Chinese elm.

Almost all bamboos, most big clumping grasses, and many palms are ideal for taking advantage of breezes. Mexican weeping bamboo really is comparable to weeping willow, but on a much smaller scale. Taller bamboos can catch a breeze on top even if lower foliage is sheltered. Pampas grass, although certainly not for every garden, has both dynamic foliage and dynamic blooms.

Of course, plants that move in a breeze can only do so with a breeze. They can not do much if sheltered by larger trees or buildings.P81222++++

9 thoughts on “Motion As A Landscape Element

  1. I like poplars and aspens with their leaves that tremble in the slightest breeze and make such a pleasant sound when the breeze picks up a bit. We always check the poplar tops behind our house from our kitchen window when assessing the wind. Motionless leaves at the 80 foot top are a pretty good indicator of absolutely calm conditions.

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    1. My Pa really likes the quaking aspen, but I never write about it because it does not do well here. I noticed it at a nursery in the Sierra Nevada, but have never witnessed it in the wild. It must be something to see because it seems that most who are familiar with it really like it, sort of like the redwoods. They have quite a following.


      1. I think that there are cottonwoods everywhere in North America. We have our own black cottonwoods and Fremont cottonwood (which all who are into natives thinks is all the rage), but they all look like ‘cottonwoods’. Those that I saw in Oklahoma looked not different from the black cottonwoods here. The Fremont cottonwood looks more like an aspen, but I still do not understand the allure. They are certainly pretty, but so is everything else.


      2. I sort of get tired of Fremont. It is the name of the fourth most populous (not ‘Populus’) city in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is the name the old cinema of San Luis Obispo. It is the name of the dormitory building I lived in at Cal Poly. It is the name of the Fremontodendron/Fremontia californica that is such a fad among the natives enthusiasts. It is even the name of a peak in Monterey and San Benito Counties. Dude was not that important!


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