Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Celebrating Naturalistic Herbaceous Vegetation

Latin name: Epilobium angustifolium
Common name(s): Fireweed, Rosebay willow herb.
Family: Onagraceae
Range: Europe, including Britain, temperate Asia and N. America.
Attributes: produces tall purple flower spikes up to 18 inches long from early to late summer.
Uses: plant en masse, supports a wide range of wildlife, good for naturalizing.
Typical height: 2m
Habitat: pioneer growth after a fire or disturbance - leading to its common name, rocky ground, waste areas, woodland garden, dappled shade, shady edge, meadow.
Soil and site requirements/tolerances: prefers a well-drained but moisture retentive soil in a sunny position, will tolerate most soils.

Epilobium angustifolium in context of the private garden

Epilobium angustifolium has to be one of my favourite plants. It is generally under appreciated and often considered to be a weed. However, I cultivate this plant in my own garden and admire it for its naturalistic character, easy care and ability to support wildlife. I have recently began propagating the white version, Epilobium angustifolium "Album" which I have used successfully in many of my projects.

Epilobium angustifolium "Album"

Striking seed heads and beautiful fall colour

Naturalizing a recently disturbed site in the interior of BC

detailed botanical drawing

It's the determined character that draws me to this plant. The ability to move into disturbed sites, bring life and heal the land.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Urban art with Slinkachu

Slinkachu is a UK based street artist and photographer whose goal is to encourage city dwellers to be more aware of their surroundings. "The scenes I set up, more evident through the photography, and the titles I give these scenes aim to reflect the loneliness and melancholy of living in a big city, almost being lost and overwhelmed. But underneath this, there is always some humour. I want people to be able to emphasize with the tiny people in my works."

Wrong turn

Kew Gardens

Manhole Swimming

Ravenscourt Park, London

His photos are humorous but also possess humbling overtones of how seemingly insignificant actions can affect us on a larger scale.


Undisclosed London location

Local Amenities For Children

Finsbury Leisure Centre, East London

Urban camping

Manchester UK

30 Minutes

Postman's Park London

Slinkachu's ongoing street art project is regularly updated and can be visited at his blog. For more photos and information please visit www.slinkachu.com

Monday, January 19, 2009

Waltham Place - Pioneering Landscape

Waltham Place is a 56 hectare estate comprising farmland, woodland and orchards, with landscaped and ornamental gardens. Developed since the 17th century, the entire estate has been managed organically for over 25 years. The gardens have been designed by Henk Gerritsen and are maintained by former Mien Ruys head gardener Beatrice Krehl.  I visited Waltham place while in England and it still remains the greatest working mixed use garden and landscape I have experienced.

The land and gardens have been developed and maintained based on sound agricultural, environmental, food cultivating and social principles. The owner and staff have a firm understanding that organic husbandry needs to coexist with the local natural systems.

The journey through the property begins by mingling through wild bold plantings of grasses and hardy mixed perennial species. Gerritsen's naturalistic planting palette is uncomplicated, with drifts of grouped species appearing to carry a delicate balance that only coexists in nature.

In one portion of the garden, morning glory was encouraged to climb over a clipped yew hedge. Instead of battling the invasive species, Gerritsen worked with it and welcomed its vigorous character. 

As your journey through Waltham Place continues you will be led to working kitchen gardens, open meadows, woodland groves and back through classic Gerritsen planting schemes.

The brilliance behind these spaces is the blurred lines between the natural and created landscape, providing the visitor a sense of balance with the local ecology.

Waltham Place offers education to the public about organic production and environmental principles.  Their method to teaching is a 3 tier approach - factual, sensory and aesthetic. The concept is to put less emphasis on lecturing while promoting value in discovery, observation and exploration, thus connecting the student directly to their surroundings. 
If you have the chance please visit the gardens at Waltham Place. This is, in my opinion, the template for the future of mixed use landscape design. 
For more information please visit www.walthamplace.com

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Font + Foliage

I am fond of any installation that engages the public through the introduction of vegetation into a hard and static environment. For The design competition "Finding Refuge – Huguenots in Berlin", msk7 developed the blümerant installation for Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. The Gendarmenmarkt is a square in Berlin, and the site of the Konzerthaus and the French and German Cathedrals. This project takes as its subject-matter the influence of the French language on the Berlin vernacular.

Msk7 group is a project-oriented team that creates temporary events in public spaces.
Project + photos courtesy of msk7

concept courtesy of msk7-

"Just as the Huguenots were integrated into the city, parts of their vocabulary have also become embedded in the language here, sometimes becoming inextricably entwined with it. The letters of the words coined lie in columns and rows in 4m x 4m squares, structuring the Gendarmenmarkt. The ensuing “crossword puzzle” made up of special vegetation mats creates conceptual links between French and German, whilst in situ it establishes spatial connections between the French Cathedral and its German pendant."

The portion of this project that stood out for me was the sponsorship provided by the progressive Berlin Senate Culture Department, Grants and Project Support Division, who keep work like this funded. This project, and the government endorsement provided, has me thinking the west coast of BC is ready for an environmentally themed public installation.....Stay tuned. For more information please visit the msk7 website.

Monday, January 12, 2009

landscape fabric

I have a serious infatuation with any type of detailed drawings, urban planning and contour maps. I especially enjoyed these mass and void studies of major cities. Each metropolitan area has its own unique fabric sewn into the landscape. Like an article of clothing the fabric reveals insight to the cities personality.

The Mayfair and Soho districts south of Oxford Street

La Ramblas is the main north south promenade

New York
Mid town Manhattan south of Central Park

San Fransisco
Market St splits the central city into two grids

City features a car-free zone called the Stroget

Between Queen and College Street east of Bathhurst

East of the river Tiber that points to the Vatican

Visuals courtesy of spacing toronto

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Furnishing the garden

bench concept - model 1
Furniture in the garden is very important and is often overlooked. Carefully placed, a seat, bench or covered space offers refuge, and if you are an avid gardener like myself, a place to stop working and reflect. It is usually difficult to source quality furnishings that will work in our coastal context, which is why designing my own seemed obvious. I am currently working with local craftsmen to create the first prototype.

The seats aesthetic will work in a modern and traditional setting

-reclaimed oak seat slats
-ductal arches

Ductal is a revolutionary, ultra-high performance material that provides strength, ductility, durability and aesthetic flexibility.

furniture concept and visuals created by Christian Barnard