I’m sharing some iphoneography of the Portland Oregon Japanese Botanical Garden. Sadly, I miseed the Noguchi exhibition at the Garden, though there was still one piece remaining.
Highlights included: elaborate and whimsical paving patterns, shrouded views, the mini hand woven weirs, and the seductive patterns of light.
Elaborate hand-tied fencing
The Japanese principle of wabi sabi represents a world view that accepts and embraces transience and imperfection. This checkered path mimic imperfect natural forms and patterns.
These small hand-woven weirs are painstakingly made and highly effective. Each weir is about 2 inches tall!
I think this grade and materiality change creates a really beautiful dialogue between the two paths. ‘Where are you going’, says one path to another? The high road, the low road, the light road, the dark road….pick your mood.
Wabi sabi strikes again, as this is no shoddy craftsmanship, but a measured level of randomness in a highly crafted cobble wall.
I have always enjoyed ramps that parallel stairs. Water has different ways to move through the landscape; people can choose their own route depending on how their legs feel or their locomotion.
Yesterday I went on a walk along the railroad. When the train went by, a bunch of Monarch butterflies fluttered above me. I followed them and saw them landing on the ivy that lined the path. I got closer and saw that the ivy was cover not only by the butterflies but also hundreds of pollinators, there were honey bees, native bees, bumble bees, flies, wasps. I got a little closer and was fully taken by a multi sensory experience, the buzzing of the bees and the striking scent of nectar. The Ivy was in full bloom and it was a feasting party for pollinators! I stood there for a while in awe, taking it all in. I had no idea ivy bloomed and that the blossoms were so prolific in nectar…
So, turns out, Ivy does bloom! but in order to do so, it must be a mature plant. When ivy’s growth shifts into the mature phase, the ivy changes in form. Leaf shape changes, and the stems become upright and won’t need any obvious support. When the plant is repeatedly sheared or cut back it remains in the juvenile form so it continues as a trailing plant and it’s unable to bloom. The blooms are really small, almost un noticeable to the eye, but not to the nose, they are fragrant!
All of a sudden my views on Ivy were challenged. Ivy is an extremely invasive species and it threatens the diversity of native plants that can not compete with Ivy. Also, I always though of Ivy as rat infested nests. Ewwww! I saw no benefit and never thought of using it. I still don’t think that I would suggest planting ivy on any of my projects, but I have gained a new admiration and respect for the plant. Especially because of the timing of the nectar source in the fall season, when most other plants stop producing flowers. This is the time when pollinators need to collect food to make it through the winter. I will give some thought to the use of Ivy on areas where nothing else will grow and pollinators need access to food. I love it when nature challenges my preconceived ideas and gets my wheels going.
Check out this short video that shows the pollinators feasting on the ivy blooms.
And for more information on bees and Ivy nectar check out this article:
The honey and the ivy – why gardeners’ foe is the bees’ friend
Thanks to all the parents, neighbors, administrators, teachers, and students who participated yesterday evening at our first community meeting for GISSV! Together with their valuable insight, the site of this incredible historic building in the Berkeley hills, and our design team we’ll create a vibrant Master Plan that will be a legacy for years to come at this new school campus.
It’s not often that a school has such clearly defined curriculum for their students’ development as it relates to physical movement at different ages. This will be a critical guide as we design their outdoor learning environment. Our perspective of school landscapes is as extensions of classrooms where students are given different and often more dynamic ways to further develop social, physical, and psychological skills.
In addition to looking at our work in site analysis, curriculum assessment, and neighborhood history, we shared a number of images of inspiring schoolyard and learning environments to get the conversation going. But the highlight of the meeting was sharing site plans students from all grades had created in anticipation of this meeting (see a couple of images below)! Thanks to all of the students. We hope that GISSV can make these available for public viewing because they’re full of valuable information and fun.
Some highlights from last night’s discussion were to create space for parents that encourages more interaction and the development of a GISSV culture; to maintain the open feel of the schoolyard for events and emergency gatherings; to consider on- and off-site car parking as well as safe vehicular circulation and drop-off; to create bike parking and access areas that encourage and facilitate biking to school; to consider using flat roof space for roof gardens or play; to find a balance between screening the vegetated margin adjacent to the street and keeping it open for safety; to create programs and areas on the site that encourage collaboration with and use by the community; to create sports fields; to create play structures; to create a welcoming entry; to create school gardens; to find a way to incorporate nature into the site; and much much more. Thanks again, GISSV!
And please remember to email us with more comments at GISSV@BASELANDSCAPE.COM
Graphic recording notes from community discussion
Images below of other inspiring schoolyards from around the world:
We are pleased to be hosting our first “Liquor + Lecture Series”
This idea came about from our desire to stay informed in issues that are important and relevant to, as well as the desire to share ideas with other people in our community.
This first session, we will be discussing two of my most passionate topics dirt and bees!
It will be a conversation with Mike Sesko, a graduate of Yale’s School’s of Management and Forestry. He will be talking about his recent work as a Biochar entrepreneur and as a consultant in the Central Valley to farmers about sustainable practices.
We’ll also be screening “More than Honey,” a beautiful award winning film on bees, the problems they face due to industrial agriculture and their impact in our food supply.
“Biochar + Bees: Exploring Sustainable Productive Landscapes”
Please join us, we will love to see you!