a popular waterfront public space like Riverwalk Landing
in historic Yorktown, Va., is a delicate balancing act.
ask Joanne Chapman, landscape superintendent for
choice is key for sure," she says.
common thread with all the plants selected is that they
are aesthetically attractive and reliable, yet require
like a plan good for the home garden, too. It is because
the right plants for the right place for the right use
works in most spaces. When it doesnít, you assess the
situation, make changes and improve the looks and
results. Thatís what any good gardening expert will
tell you, and that is what Chapman has slowly but surely
done at the Yorktown waterfront since Riverwalk Landing
formally opened in 2005.
2014, the landscape at Yorktown was substantially
renovated to make some sensible changes, especially
along the walkway that overlooks the scenic York River.
esthetic in Yorktown is not a manicured appearance, as
you might find in historic Williamsburg, Va., but a
natural yet organized and maintained appearance,"
and for several years the native grasses were attractive
and fairly manageable. Over the past few years, however,
that bed had lost the organized appearance and became
increasingly more difficult to manage because the River
Oats had become very invasive, and a number of other
invasive volunteers had started to take over. Also many
of the native grasses had either died or were in
plants installed included Pink Muhly Grass, St. Johnís
Wort, variegated Japanese sedge, Radrazz Knock Out rose,
Catmint Nepeta and Tifway hybrid Bermuda sod. With the
overgrown grasses and river oats mostly gone, the native
Virginia Sweetspire and Summer Sweet could better show
off their spring blooms.
Muhly grass has become one of my favorite grasses along
with Switchgrass," says Chapman of the native
Pink Muhly has the beautiful pink plumes and when used
en masse has great impact. There is very little debris
to remove when they are cut back one time per year in
late winter, and only if needed. The crew used to remove
literally tons and tons of debris and it took a couple
of days of work to cut back all the other grasses that
were previously there. Anytime I can reduce the
maintenance for the York County grounds maintenance crew
without a negative impact, I will.
other favorite plant is Hypericum Hidcote. It gets the
beautiful yellow flower and is a very versatile plant
that does well in either sun or shade and requires
little to no maintenance. Once established, it is a very
durable and reliable plant.
the Knockout roses are another favorite. Pruning in
later winter and, again, only if needed and some
fertilization during the summer is all thatís
required. Talk about show for the dough ó it is right
up there along with Little Lamb Hydrangea paniculata,
which I have a lot of at Riverwalk."
addition to shrubs and grasses, Riverwalk Landing
gardens consist of other perennials that are Virginia
natives. Seasonal color with annuals changes from time
to time, but the look is always festive. For instance,
last yearís lime green look changed to patriotic red,
white and blue annuals in hanging baskets, containers
and landscape beds to honor the French ship Hermioneís
June visit and Riverwalk Landingís 10th anniversary.
Landing is a popular destination for tourists and local
citizens alike, and the Freight Shed is a very popular
venue for weddings and events," says Chapman.
important to make the area as welcoming as possible, and
flowers are very welcoming. I try to select plants that
will have different leaf and flower size, shape and
textures for added interest, with one or two main colors
running throughout for consistency. The plants need to
perform well with little maintenance ó no deadheading
or frequent pruning. They are watered almost daily and
fertilized as needed, and thatís about it."
keep visitors from playing guessing games on plant
names, the area along Riverwalk from the Archers Cottage
parking lot to the Victory Center and all around
Riverwalk Landing contains more than 250 plant
identification labels with botanical and common names of
approximately 90 different plants.
and her crew ó five full-time employees and one
seasonal mow, mulch, plant, beach rake, prune and water
Yorktown Village, Riverwalk Landing, as well as the
beachfront and picnic area ó have been recognized for
their efforts to keep the area park-like and
environmentally healthy. Initially, the area was
recognized with an exceptional award by the Professional
Grounds Management Society, and last year the Virginia
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries certified
Riverwalk Landing and Yorktown waterfront as a Virginia
takes a lot of attention to detail to keep this type of
landscape maintained," she says.