A crew prepares the “canoe beds” for planting at the north end of the Oak Colonnade.

Parks visitors may notice that the new flower beds in the soon-to-be-completed Oak Colonnade have a distinctive shape.

The beds are generally known as “canoes” among Cantigny staff members, especially those in Horticulture. To others, once planted, they resemble battleships.

If you visited the park last spring you may have seen eight “canoes” of tulips floating in the grass area behind Le Jardin. That was a test, says Craig Kruckenberg, horticulture manager, to see how the beds would appear as a group and to determine proper spacing.

“CK,” as he is known, first thought of the plantings as leaf beds. They are, in fact, similar in shape to the leaf of a cherry tree.

By any name, the narrow, 20-foot beds, 35 in all, will have a key role in Project New Leaf. Their purpose, starting in 2019, is to provide bright, cheerful color up and down the new Colonnade, an allée of 48 oaks running north-south.

The current edition “canoes” have color, but visitors will see a brighter look next spring.

In November, the horticulture team will load the canoes with tulip bulbs, ensuring a colorful greeting for park visitors next spring. Eye-catching annuals like pansies, petunias, marigolds, zinnias and impatiens will rotate in and out with the seasons as well.

Current canoe plantings in the Colonnade were determined by available plant material in the Cantigny greenhouse.

Posted by Jeff Reiter

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