Sunday, August 21, 2011

NEEDED: A Hedge Fund

Walking by the PARC Park in the 300 block of Warren Street this morning, I was reminded of two things: what Scott Baldinger said in his latest post about the need to care for trees--and all things botanical--in public spaces, and Sarah Sterling's news earlier this week that she had established a fund at HDC for small beautification projects. A prime candidate for that fund is the PARC Park's boxwood hedge.

This little park on Warren Street was designed and created by the PARC Foundation and given to the City of Hudson. The opening ceremony for the park took place in the late summer of 2007. The terms of the gift were, as I recall, that the PARC Foundation would retain design control of the park for ten years--preventing the City from altering essential aspects of the park's design--but the City of Hudson would take over the care and maintenance of the park.  

An important feature of the park is the boxwood hedge that borders the street side of the park and the sloping walkway that connects Warren Street with Prison Alley, the county health building, and the municipal parking lot on Columbia Street. When the hedge was first planted, each little boxwood bush had a beautiful upright teardrop shape, and with just a tiny bit of judicious trimming (or none at all), the boxwood bushes would have grown into a compact and shapely low hedge.

On the subject of pruning boxwood, there are two recommended techniques: using hand pruners or using your fingers to pluck or break off stems. The Department of Public Works took a different approach. A year or so after the boxwoods were planted, someone took a power trimmer to the nascent hedge and gave it the characteristic flat top and squared off sides seen everywhere in Hudson's parks. The following pictures, which show that shape imposed on the boxwood hedge, were taken at the end of March 2011.   

The following pictures, taken this morning, show that the hedge is in even worse condition now than it was in early spring. There are several gaps in the hedge where bushes have died--the victims of the vandalism and other kinds of abuse. Bushes that were still alive in March are dead today, and the surviving bushes look anything but robust. 

So here's the proposal. We build on Sarah Sterling's initiative to create a "hedge fund" to replant the missing bushes or, if necessary, to replant the entire hedge. Then we organize a group of volunteers to care for the hedge, carefully trimming it, as recommended, with hand pruners or fingers. Maybe involving the community in caring for the hedge will inspire greater community pride and commitment to nurturing and protecting it.


  1. I like the "hedge fund" idea as well as having a small group of "hedge rangers" to restore the plantings and see them to good health.

    Here is more than you ever wanted to know about Boxwoods and their care

  2. That's the same source I linked to in the post, so people can just go back and click on the words "two recommended techniques" in the third paragraph.