|The impressive pleached allee in the Boboli Gardens|
Florence, Italy. Carefully trained to form a verdant
tunnel, one can feel the almost magnetic pull to enter
There is something magical about walking along a tree lined avenue or allée. The straight route emphasizes a sense of purpose, directing the feet and framing an ultimate destination such as a sculpture or fountain. The trees planted on either side are of the same type, creating uniformity along its length and visual strength.
There are several questions to consider when selecting trees for such a feature;
- What is the ultimate height you require?
- Do you want a natural look or a more formal style such as pleaching described below?
- Will the tree branches be allowed to grow to the ground or will they be limbed up, and if so to what height?
- Does the tree need to be evergreen or deciduous?
|Trees with ornamental bark such as the|
Crepe Myrtle lend themselves well to
lining an elegant palisade.
Few of us have room for an allee of sixty trees, but even six specimens planted in two parallel lines of three can make a statement. See the photo below of just six bald cypress trees (Taxodium) which have been used to focus the eye on an outdoor patio. Where space is particularly tight look for columnar varieties of trees such as 'Amanogowa' cherry tree or the columnar Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris 'Fastigiata')
My interest in this living architecture was piqued when I noticed a long, straight driveway flanked on either side by cherry trees. In spring it gave the effect of an endless confetti strewn promenade, waiting patiently for the entrance of the bride and groom. The effect changed but was not lost during the other seasons, as the burgundy leaves of summer gave way to fiery hues in fall. Even bare the silhouettes of the branches against the wintery skies clearly marked the intended route.
|The branches of lime trees are braided together to|
create this allee at Sissinghurst Castle, UK
A variation of this design is the pleached allée - a technique that weaves branches together to form a raised hedge. It is a method of adding structure in the garden without the use of arbors, pergolas or trellises to create a living, leafy tunnel. Not every tree can be trained this way. Lime trees (Tilia - known as linden trees in the USA) hornbeams (Carpinus sp.), beech (Fagus sp.), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and apple trees are all suitable, but as with the traditional allée, only one tree species should be selected. Maintenance of pleached trees can be high due to the need for constant pruning but for those with time or manpower it makes a memorable and dramatic feature. For more information on pleaching see this link.
|A short allee of bald cypress trees remind|
the homeowners of their childhood home.
By keeping the trees limbed up, the path
is not obstructed and the destination
Photo credit; Pam Penick
|An avenue of white barked birch trees lead the eye to|
an outdoor dining area. Note how the columns of the
dining pergola beautifully continue the theme.
Photo and design credit; Blueline Landscape
So give it some thought. Stand back and view your home and garden from a distance. Is there an area which would benefit from stronger lines, a sense of geometry? Is there a special feature that you would like to enhance or draw attention to? Does there need to be a clearer sense of direction? Remember an allée is a type of promenade and that very word means to walk. This should be a memorable journey to somewhere or something important; not a mad dash to the garbage cans!