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Archive for the ‘PLANTS’ Category

The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Photo by Tim Griffith.

From “The Best Medicine” by Lydia Lee in the April 2021 issue, about GLS Landscape | Architecture’s new Stanford Hospital landscape, which connects patients to lush and varied gardens and orchards, aiding their recoveries.

“A path with purpose.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

You can read the full table of contents for April 2021 or pick up a free digital issue of the April LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

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TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY TARA MITCHELL

The unseen world of little bluestem grasslands.

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Roadsides are a tough place for any form of life. The land is never free of human disturbance, be it from mowing, drainage and guardrail repair, tree cutting, installation of signs and utility posts, or vehicles that don’t stay the course. The soils are often compacted, dry and infertile, and polluted from salt and runoff. Remnants of debris—plastic bags and bottles, fast-food wrappers, coffee cups, pieces of cardboard, toys, and miniature liquor bottles—lie tucked away in the vegetation. On heavily trafficked roads, there is the continuous roar of cars and trucks whizzing by, wearing, irritating, never-ending.

Roadside vegetation is increasingly becoming a jungle of nonnative plants. In some places, there exist impenetrable stands of Japanese knotweed and common reeds. Elsewhere, the ubiquitous jumble of bittersweet, multiflora rose, and honeysuckle eats away at the forest edge. In more suburban areas, barberry, burning bush, and English ivy, having escaped the confines of manicured landscapes, creep unnoticed through the understory, changing the soil chemistry and the ecology of adjacent forests. From the perspective of vegetation, the roadside is a double war zone: man versus nature and plant invaders versus long-established plant communities.

But sometimes, when the soils are dry and infertile and the land is sufficiently exposed to the wind and the beating sun, there exists (when the mowers allow) extraordinary beauty in long stretches of little bluestem grassland. These grasslands may not be particularly noticeable during the summer, but by late August, when the foliage turns a coppery-red hue and the fluffy white seeds glint in the sunlight, the land is transformed. When mixed with the pink haze of purple lovegrass in bloom and a sprinkling of goldenrod, rabbit tobacco, and aster, the combination can be stunning. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Morton Salt site will feature a riparian ecosystem grown in a synthetic medium. Image courtesy Lamar Johnson Collaborative.

In Chicago, a synthetic growing medium will provide a healthy buffer between contaminated soils and riparian plant life.

 

For nearly 100 years, the Morton Salt facility on the North Side of Chicago, with its massive rain slicker and umbrella sign, has been an iconic presence along the industrial corridor that traced the North Branch of the Chicago River. The warehousing and packaging facility closed in 2015, and within a few years, the company announced an ambitious adaptive reuse plan for the site, turning it into a mixed-use campus featuring a concert venue and office spaces. (The sign will stay.) It will also be home to Morton’s R&D facility, relocating from Chicago’s suburbs, where the company will research water softener salt, pool salt, deicing salt, and salt solutions for other industrial applications.

The project’s innovation will extend to the outdoors: The landscape of the campus will include a synthetic growing medium developed by Omni Ecosystems. According to the company, it’s the first site in Chicago that’s been approved for the use of special stormwater soils designed to mitigate runoff and stormwater from combined sewer overflows. Working with the Chicago Plan Commission and the Department of Buildings, Omni Ecosystems will use 60,000 cubic feet of Omni Infinity Media, largely composed of an ultra-light, kiln-dried mineral similar to volcanic rock. This medium will allow a rich wetland and riparian ecosystem to thrive on top of a degraded and polluted site that’s been capped with concrete and asphalt.

The Omni Infinity Media is mostly air—it has 78 percent void space, compared to standard topsoil, which has 25 percent. “It’s quite literally and physically a sponge,” says Michael Skowlund, ASLA, the director of landscape architecture at Omni Ecosystems. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An illustration of Edmond Albius, by Antoine Roussin, 1863. Image courtesy of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

An online exhibit hosted by the New York Botanical Garden decodes plants’ relationships to Black people.

 

Of the five plants featured in the New York Botanical Garden’s online exhibition Black Botany: The Nature of Black Experience, some are cash crops typically associated with Black people and slavery, such as cotton and rice. Others highlight relationships that are less well-known. “We wanted to look at how Black culture is always simmered down to low and middlebrow culture, as opposed to scientific or higher-brow knowledge,” says Nuala Caomhánach, a former Mellon Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden and a current doctoral student in the history of science, who curated the show with Rashad Bell, a collection maintenance associate at the garden. Each plant shines a light on the intentional omission of comprehensive Black knowledge of botany and nature, as well as how Black people were often connected to these plants in the popular imagination by slavery.

Very simply, “plants aren’t neutral,” Bell says. (more…)

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BY BRIAN FRYER

The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation moves closer to permanently memorializing historic injury in Idaho.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

For centuries, it was tradition each January for several thousand members of the nomadic Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation to gather at a bend in the Bear River near the borders of Idaho and Utah. Tribal leader Darren Parry says the Shoshone called the place Boa Ogoi. Bands of the tribe would share stories, use the natural hot springs, and perform the “warm dance” to hasten the coming of spring.

In the mid-1800s, as more settlers came to the area now known as Cache Valley, there were intermittent conflicts with the Indigenous people there. On January 29, 1863, a detachment of the U.S. Army Cavalry attacked a group of Shoshone that had remained at Boa Ogoi after the annual gathering, killing nearly 400 men, women, and children in one of the largest mass murders of Native Americans in the United States. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

New tools give landscape designers a better view of what’s thriving and what’s just surviving in the soil.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Republic Square in Austin, Texas, is one of the city’s most historic, sensitive, and heavily trafficked public green spaces. In the heart of downtown, it’s one of the original four public squares dating back to the city’s founding. In 1839, the city’s initial run of surveyed and platted blocks was auctioned off beneath what became known as the Auction Oaks. Recently revitalized by Design Workshop, the square is a broad public green and plaza outlined by native plantings and groves of trees, some of which are nearly 600 years old.

Matt Macioge, the director of operations for the Downtown Austin Alliance, which operates the park, wanted to protect this valuable place. He has a background in design and construction, so he could anticipate the typical array of maintenance issues, but with an added layer of complexity. “The plants within [these landscapes] are dynamic. They’re growing, they’re dying, they’re pollinating, they have seasonal changes and cycles,” he says. “You really need to be able to live and breathe with the plants with your operations manual.” Macioge says he wanted “world-class standards,” a maintenance regimen that would react and adapt to changes in both programming and ecology. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY KATHARINE LOGAN

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Sourberry, red willow, redbud, sedge: These are some of the plants native to the meadows and creek sides of Mariposa County, at the mouth of California’s Yosemite Valley, where for thousands of years the women of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation have woven them into baskets—for gathering food, for cradling infants high and safe while the women work, and for receiving babies as they’re born.

Most recently, Miwuk basketry is the focus of a public art installation helping to inform Sacramento-based Atlas Lab’s development of a Creative Placemaking Master Plan for Mariposa County. As a demonstration project to invite community input while broadening perceptions of the possibilities for public art, the temporary installation is located beside a footbridge crossing Mariposa Creek, where once-plentiful native plants are now struggling in a landscape transformed by settlement. “The strength we have as landscape architects is to reveal these hidden histories,” says Atlas Lab’s founder and principal Kimberly Garza, ASLA. (more…)

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