Offshore wind farms?

carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)January 21, 2010

Cape Wind Project will be putting up several hundred windmills in Nantucket Sound. I'm concerned admittedly in a NIMBY way, and that's not all the windmills and locations proposed. (I'm posting here because it is the landscaping issue that I need help with: how to mask the view of windmills and yet allow intermittent glimpses of ocean, from our ocean-view cottage and garden.)

Nantucket Sound which are Federal waters, may have 200 very tall windmills going in. But the state of Mass. is proposing another farm, about 166 windmills off the southwest coast of Cuttyhunk Island, which is south of Westport MA and east of Rhode Island's east bay area, about 12 miles from the coast.

Visual presence: the posts will be 258 ft. high, the blades will reach up to 440 ft. above the sea, and there will be aircraft lights (some red, some white, some blinking) on the tops and lights on the bases at night. The simulations shown on the Cape Wind project site do not deal with what all those blinking lights will look like at night nor show a video of what the motion does to our tranquil views. It will look industrial.

I acknowledge the need for more electricity and for getting us off fossil fuels. I wish these towering windmills could be put up out of my sight. But their construction is inevitable, I fear.

So I'm posting here (and another shorter post, on northeast coastal) to ask not for fellow deplorers, but for fellow landscapers and gardeners. How can I "soften" the view of 166 lighted windmills 440 ft. high?

Carol

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Now you see, I wondered about what you reported on the other thread, Tree Oracle. I thought I read that they were going into Nantucket Sound. I grew up in Massachusetts and have many fond memories of the landscape of the cape and especially Nantucket and I couldn't be sadder at that piece of news.

Carol, I can't imagine any landscaping that would allow you to enjoy the view of the ocean. I imagine you would have to screen it out altogether, no?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:35AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

That sounds a little different than what you were describing, Tree Oracle. I thought I read that they were going into Nantucket Sound. I grew up in Massachusetts and have many fond memories of the landscape of the cape and especially Nantucket and I couldn't be sadder at that piece of news.

Carol, I can't imagine any landscaping that would allow you to enjoy the view of the ocean. I imagine you would have to screen it out altogether, no?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:37AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Sorry, the website wasn't working right. I got two error messages and didn't think it posted until I checked back.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:40AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Yes, the Nantucket Sound (between Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard) wind farm will be going up; but also, Massachusetts itself is proposing its own wind farm off SW Cuttyhunk Is. I wouldn't be surprised to be reading about more windmill farms on land and sea, in the near future. Not to sound alarmist, but windmill power is inevitable. We might react like citizens did in the late 1800's when the clean city viewscapes were first cluttered by electric power and phone lines on tall poles. We've gotten so used to them that they're almost invisible to us now. Perhaps windmill farms will become a view taken for granted.

But meanwhile, I need landscaping help! Not walls (they'd block the breeze) but suggestions for open-habit trees and tall shrubs, and maybe focusing on the part of the yard that doesn't face the ocean view.

Carol

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 11:16AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

This is the proposed view:

The turbines are only going to be visible on a clear day. As I said before, you can look at them from your home or look at them from the boat that you will be in after your home has been flooded from global warming.

Carol,

At least you are being honest about your reasons for being opposed to this project. I have had enough of the NIMBYs opposing this project for fake reasons like disturbing Indian burial grounds. I've read that several NIMBYs are not opposed to the same type of windfarm next to Fall River. I find that to be outrageous, too. So, the poorer communities get stuck with the project while the more affluent communities get a free pass. I don't think so.

To answer your questions about something to screen out the view from that direction, there are many possibilities. You could do it with plants or with a garden structure or both. An arbor with roses on it would be nice. A tree or shrub form of a Rose-of-Sharon would also be nice. A lilac would work. A juniper or spruce would work. A tall ornamental grass would work. There are many options.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 11:33AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

How large a property do you have Carol and do you have other areas that you can create a focal point? What are some of your favorite plants? Keeping in mind that you also need plants that are tolerant of seaside conditions, what about Witchhazel or Winterberry? Would you consider a long arbor with roses on it? It's hard because all of the lists of seaside plants usually have more short plants to avoid obstructing the view.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 11:34AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Tree Oracle, you've obviously educated yourself about it and have thought about it a lot which I have not. I imagine the first time you heard about it though you were shocked? It feels like someone punching me in the stomach to see that view, to tell you the truth. I would not want to look at it and it would take all the pleasure out of being by the seashore if that was what I would have to look at. And I'm not saying that as a property owner, but just someone who loves the ocean. There is a restorative quality of peace that you get from looking out to the horizon over the ocean that is removed by that amount of wind mills. The ocean is one of the last areas of natural beauty that has escaped to some degree man's interference. And for someone who loves the natural world, who believes in the conservation of plant habitat and animal habitat, I can't help but think that projects like this might have the right motivation and might think they are working to conserve the planet, but the way in which it is being done does take away something valuable that people do need. I don't know if a lot of thought is given to what kind of habitat people need sometimes. Of course, practical issues, as you point out, of rising water from global water have to be addressed, but I have not heard anything to suggest that going forward with this project will assure that global warming will not continue despite it. There are so many ways in which people are creating global warming that these windmills won't change. So I guess I would have not wanted to give up the natural oceanfront without knowing that for sure, it was going to go a long way toward solving global warming and that there wasn't another way. And the view you offer in that photo is not the one I saw of windmills in Nantucket Sound that were much closer to the shoreline. I wonder if this is the closest it will come to any shoreline?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 11:51AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. As to what my property looks like (in order to design view-screening plantings), it is narrow - only 100 ft. wide, cottage at the high end (approx. 30 ft. above sea level) and it slopes gently down over 150 ft. of rough grass to where the wetlands (undisturbed) begin: cattails, viburnum, bittersweet, marsh mallow, etc., for another 600 ft. to an ancient trailer/cottage park along the town beach. Our deck looks over our wetlands SE to a distant view of Horseneck Beach in Westport and Cuttyhunk Island, and the white-red-white light of Gay Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse somehow is a charming light, whereas the windmill aircraft lights may seem crass.

We can't touch the wetlands, but we could plant some trees and shrubs between the deck view and it. Maybe a leveled terrace on the ground below the deck? And table, umbrella & chairs there, so we'd sit lower down to ground level. Then any trees and shrubs to the SE wouldn't have to be as high. And we'd have a new "room" outdoors to enjoy, especially if facing away from the windmills. The lights at night are a problem we just can't solve, I think. It might be like living near the highway where all the radio & celphone antenna towers are.

If we can solve the view problems with plantings and terrace flagstones, it would be a lot easier (and cheaper) than putting up more structures, which would involve permits from the Coastal Resources Mgmt. Commission in RI, since we have wetlands on our property. Sigh.

Carol

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 1:18PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Carol,
Could you describe in a bit more detail how high and wide the screen would need to be? That may help some of us who want to help you to offer suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 1:20PM
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nandina(8b)

Carol, I saw your post on the Design Forum but prefer to answer it here. First, several questions. Distance between back of your house and the forbidden to plant in wetlands? One or two story house? Could you give an estimate of the height and also name the variety of the nearest to you seaside planted tree. Ditto height and names of nearby large shrubs.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 1:55PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Bill, the land is 30 ft. above sea level. The entire property (incl. wetlands) is 100 x 800 and goes gently downhill straight east, to the wetland part which is legally unchangeable (no weeding or making paths) and comprises most of the length. We have rough grass from the deck to the wetlands - about 150 or 200 ft. of length. That is the area we can change.

We love sitting barefoot on our deck with AM coffee, enjoying the ocean view to the SE. But since that has to change, I think making a large level terrace just SE of the deck and maybe putting down something nice (bluestone?) might lure us off the deck. I could put in a low terrace border of perennials, then back it up with taller flowering shrubs. If we're at ground level we wouldn't see the ocean very much. The aircraft lights on the windmills won't be able to be ignored, but at night we're inside anyway.

The land there does very well for rugosa roses (and rugosa alba gets tall), buddleias (easily 8 ft. tall), less well for lilacs due to the acid soil. and of course bittersweet and honeysuckle. Without needing a building or wetlands permit we could put up a couple of strong tall posts for twining vines, which would help establish the visual boundaries of the terrace.

Bill and you others, being able to write about it as I think is really helpful. I'm brainstorming here and any ideas you all have, will be welcomed.

Carol

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 2:02PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Carol, that happens to me a lot. Just listening to yourself as you have to explain your project or problem to someone else starts sparking the flow of ideas. :-) I love your idea of a bluestone terrace and believe you have the right idea to get lower so that the view is less prominent. I love my Buddleia bushes and I would be happy to put in a whole row of them in different colors. They also have newer varieties of a smaller size that might be interesting to use in front of the larger ones here and there to create an interesting effect. I wonder if you can grow Crepe Myrtles there to add behind the Buddleia in a couple of places? I would enjoy grasses near the ocean. Maybe some of the brown carexes if that appeals to you. There are so many gorgeous grasses that you could add to your perennials and they are so responsive to wind that it adds another dimension to your garden.

I also like that idea of tall posts for a boundary. A lot less expense and trouble than an arbor. Maybe wrought iron obelisks or wooden ones, is another choice. Climbing roses and clematis. I wonder if you have posts below your deck that support it? Maybe you could use those for vertical interest as well.

I suppose you don't need a water feature....lol. I'm not familiar with wetlands, can you plant wetland plants near the edge of it or are there heavy restrictions? Are the wetlands, fresh water, or salt? I was just thinking about trying to increase visits from birds and hummingbirds especially. That would be something new to enjoy about your garden. There are lots of perennials that you could include that would attract them.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 2:43PM
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nandina(8b)

Carol, everytime I have seen mention of this proposed wind farm my memory flashes back to the devastation on the Cape and Islands after the powerful 1938 hurricane. I was there. I saw it. If I owned your property my nightmare would be the wind farm breaking lose in a hurricane; tons of heavy metal smashing on shore, etc.

Frankly, I do not think this is the time for you make decisions. There will be a number of construction years before the farm becomes operable. While this is going on the horizon will be cluttered with large barges carrying tall cranes, pile drivers belching smoke. Watching this activity will give you an idea of how much 'blocking' you need to do and how much that activity is impacting your view. Give yourself some time to study and make decisions.

I am, BTW, very familiar with your wetlands ecosystem and planting against the ocean. That is why I questioned tree and shrub height around you, to get some idea of the wind and growing situation. Your bluestone patio idea would increase the property value and just sounds like a good idea regardless of wind farms. In situations like this sometimes the best approach is to "stop" the eye which three posts set in a perennial garden would do. Perhaps interesting bird houses clustered on them?

Watch and observe the construction process for awhile. This should help you make decisions. In several years you may see the whole situation in a different way and rework your design thoughts.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2010 at 7:41AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Carol,
Although the tribe's voice has been ignored throughout the entire process I wouldn't start planting that garden just yet as it appears before all is said and done the Wampanoag's may get their day in court.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cape Cod Times

    Bookmark   January 22, 2010 at 9:50AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

I think I found the perfect landscaping for my future windmill farm view:

http://www.cornerstonegardens.com/gardens_ken.php

Carol

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 3:07PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Yes, that would be very appropriate! In fact, the wind farm itself should use that design. I love it!

Claire

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 3:31PM
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