My Favorite

Trusted Landscape Architects Discuss Their Favorite…



White Oak Tree Joseph Pajonas, RLA, ASLA
Joseph Pajonas Studio
Greenwich, CT
(203) 321-5611

White Oak (Quercus alba) Having a landscape architect pick their favorite tree is like asking a movie buff to pick their favorite movie – there are just so many to choose from. Every tree has varying traits that can enhance the right landscape. However, if you were to start up a tree-threatening chainsaw and wouldn’t turn if off until I made a pick, then I could comfortably pick the stately White Oak. Close your eyes and try to envision that iconic tree growing alone in an open bucolic field. At maturity it is as dignified and majestic as it is beautiful. I feel a mature White Oak has the ability to have a lasting influence on one’s life like no other species. If you’re lucky enough to experience and share a common place with one of these specimens then you can take comfort in knowing it will likely last a life time. The saying, “strong as an oak” is fitting as this is one of the strongest and one of the longest lived trees. As a true native it provides tremendous wildlife value. Additionally, it’s a heavy, tough hardwood and can often be used for beams, flooring and furniture. When incorporating a White Oak in your landscape you are planting for the gain of future generations.


Dwarf Korean Lilac Paul W. Maue, RLA, ASLA
Paul Maue Associates
Andover, MA
(978) 470-2299
Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’) This smaller and more manageable lilac for the home landscape has an outstanding expansive violet purple display. Blooming days later than most common lilac varieties, the fragrant flowers can last for 2 weeks. Growing wider than tall it fits well in many shrub borders and requires little pruning. This low spreading character is ideal to help disguise any taller lilac’s twiggy bottom branches when grouped with other lilac varieties. The leaf has a wavy edge and a noticeable gloss making this mildew free lilac a great addition to any garden. It will grow in average soils but will not tolerate wet ground conditions. Treeform Dwarf Korean Lilacs can sometimes be found as standards, allowing this plant to also perform center stage in formal garden compositions.


Creeping LilyturfHeidi Sibert, CLP
Senior Vice President, Landscape Architect
James Martin Associates, Inc.
Vernon Hills, IL
(847) 634-1660

Creeping Lilyturf (Liriope spicata) Standing alone, Liriope provides many profound qualities to qualify as my favorite groundcover. Incredibly tolerant, Liriope can glory in extremes of sun and shade or drought and moisture…an amazing feat for any plant! It rapidly spreads as underground stems, thus a hero for stabilizing slopes. Soils (if moist and well-drained) can run the range, and the foliage can stay semi-evergreen depending on winter severity. Soft lavender flower spikes appear in late summer…another rarity! Yet, it’s the understated difference in Liriope that makes it the most distinctive – its appearance. The short slender leaves present glossy green arcs that weep in bundles throughout a planting bed. Curving thinly, these linear arches pop out most any planting enjoyed in contrasting combination. Some of my favorite pairings include coral bells, hostas, perennial geranium, and of course vinca and pachysandra. When teamed up with guest stars, Liriope can set the stage to bring down the house. And in the leading role, it can steal the show.

Attention Landscape Architects! Click here if you are interested in having your own “My Favorite” submission considered for our Fall newsletter

Click here to return to newsletter homepage