Oh dear. What were they thinking? I still get a shock when I see plants treated like this.
"Landscaping" seen outside a local fast food outlet - ranks of Astelia chathamica planted way too closely to start with, then later chopped back into stumpy clumps.
Astelia chathamica is a popular garden plant, often described as "architectural" because of the drama of its long flax-like leaves with their gorgeous silvery sheen, grouped in a large imposing clump. Alas, it is often planted when still small, a tidy fan of silver and soft green. And we tend to plant allowing for things as they are, not planning adequately for what they will grow into. I have certainly made that mistake.
If the initial planting is made to fill the space in a pleasing way, then things will likely get too crowded quite quickly as the plants grow. Some plants will have to be removed to make room to allow those that remain to grow naturally. Pruning - cutting plants so they grow more as we want them to - is another way of managing plant growth. But if we want healthy and happy plants, then planting and pruning should take account of how the plant grows.
This is what Astelia chathamica, given the chance, will grow to look like - a more upright one...
Or a more spreading one...
They are big, bold, and eye-catching. These plants are growing in the Otari Native Botanic Garden in Wellington. They are in mixed plantings and take centre stage.
The leaves are long, dramatic, elegant, and somewhat messy. Cutting them back stops them from growing and they will ever be stumps - I think of them as being like partially amputated arms. If allowed, new leaves will grow from the base, and look very odd as they straggle above their chopped back predecessors. What a mess - and I am guessing that the chopping back was an attempt to "tidy" them!
I have a theory that many people don't even think of plants as living things, let alone recognise them as critical for our survival. And not noticing how things grow leads to mistakes like this kind of pruning. I regard this kind of mutilation as a gruesome sight, and a reminder of how mindless we can be. While in this case it is really just an aesthetic issue, such mindlessness can actually be devastating for the living world around us.