Jan 28, 2006

The Big TV Star

Well, my debut on "Landscape Smart" went well.

It's very weird seeing oneself on TV.

But at least the yard looked good.

Jan 19, 2006

Going Against Nature?

One of the barometers I use to gauge a design's appropriateness is how much effort is required to keep the landscape looking and performing its best. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know all the details about this situation described by the L.A. Times/Associated Press--and that commercial agriculture is completely different from ornamental horticulture--but if you can't keep an ecosystem alive without massive amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, is it really an ecosystem... or just a bunch of plants on life support?

"Iraqis Struggle With Tree Care"

"Abid Ali Ubaid and three of his sons tend citrus, dates, vegetables and livestock. The tall date palms, some 200 years old, are not producing well. Disease is killing off the orange trees. The harvest has dropped by two-thirds, from about 300 pounds a year to 100.

Abid Ali Ubaid digs up a dying orange tree on land he rents in Baghdad’s affluent Karada district. The family says it made virtually no profit last year. Photo: Saad Khalaf

“'Last year we made 1 cent profit,' said Basim Ubaid, 24, one of Abid Ali’s sons.

"The trees’ decline has many causes, Basim said in January. Government handouts of fertilizer and pesticides have stopped. The municipal water supply dried up. The irrigation water they now pump directly from the Tigris is polluted. Restrictions on flying over Baghdad have limited aerial pesticide spraying.

"On a positive note, American troops are leaving the trees alone. Despite attacks mounted from date groves, soldiers and Marines are not adding chain saws to their arsenal of weapons.

"'If you went in and destroyed palm groves, you’d be doing the same thing as Saddam Hussein,' Capt. Michael Adams told the Associated Press.

"Adams was involved in a project that used aircraft to spray pesticides back in 2004.

"Abid Ali, 50, sprays 630 trees by hand now. To get to the top, he wears a handmade sling of stiff cable and leans back against it like a telephone lineman.

"Ubaid’s son Basim, who dropped out of school in the fifth grade, sees no hope for his family unless the government restores utilities and assistance to farmers.

“'Pests are out of control,' he said. 'We can’t manage them. The minister of agriculture will have to give us fertilizer or he can take care of it himself.'”

Jan 17, 2006

The Multidimensional Garden

From Landscape Architect & Specifier News:

"A garden is essentially an outdoor room that has an experiential dimension, a social dimension, an ethical dimension, a spiritual dimension and a mythological dimension. The pure symmetry of a classical garden has always been softened, or made whimsical and brought back to the human realm by the judicious use of landscape details."

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Jan 8, 2006

And Speaking of Light...

The "Random Screen" installation by Aram Bartholl is one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a long time.

Jan 2, 2006

What Inspires You?

In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron advocates writing three "morning pages" every day, about anything at all, ignoring spelling, grammar and legibility, just for the liberation of doing it. She's right; and I can imagine the same holds true for visual as well as verbal expression. Just take a look at the remarkable progression in the sketchbook of a woman who began drawing every day one year ago.

My life is filled with scraps of paper (much to the horror of Franklin Planner devotees, no doubt). They contain sketches, phone numbers, notes on plant combinations, addresses of interesting gardens I pass by, grocery lists, and so on. Occasionally these scraps band together and become a notebook. Sometimes the notebooks join forces and become a journal. This year I would like to have fewer scraps and more journals.