Saturday, June 4, 2011

Commercial Landscapes: At PCC, A Dry Stream Runs Through It

This is the first of what I intend to be a series of posts highlighting commercial landscapes done well. This time I am featuring one of my favorite grocery stores, the West Seattle PCC.

For those of you unfamiliar with this store, PCC stands for Puget Consumers Co-op. With 9 stores in the area, it is the largest community-owned and operated natural food retailer in the US. Because of the co-op's mission, it is no surprise that the block-long parking strip running from California Ave SW to 44th Ave SW has been made into a colorful garden. What is surprising is that, despite being a high traffic area, this garden looks good all year around, year after year.

One reason for its success is that it has a central design element that ties it all together. That element is the dry stream bed that has been constructed down the center. Large pieces of granite flank the sides, with river rock filling the depression down the middle. Planting areas are bermed slightly on each side to accentuate the stream bed effect.
Another reason for this garden's success is that it is colorful. Here we see the yellow of Spirea 'Goldflame' in the foreground. Other plants that add color include: Rosa rugosa, Oregon grape (Mahonia sp.), ornamental grasses, and heathers/heaths. Plus, there are various shades of green found in the Mugo pines, Alpine fir, kinnickinnick and other ground covers.
Two driveways cut through this garden to allow access to the store's parking lot. As a driver who goes in and out of there often, I appreciate the fact that none of the plants are tall enough to obstruct my view of oncoming traffic. This is something for homeowners to keep in mind if they decide to convert their parking strips to planting strips.

Are there commercial landscapes in your Seattle neighborhood that you particularly appreciate? I'd love to hear about them.