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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Jackson Downing’

THE THEFT OF A HISTORIC SITE FOR FREE EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT
ON THE VALUE OF PUBLIC SPACE IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY.

 

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY, AFFILIATE ASLA

TEXT BY THAÏSA WAY, FASLA

FROM THE JULY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On June 1, 2020, in a cowardly response by the president to the protests against racially grounded police violence, Lafayette Park and the Ellipse were fenced off around the White House. These two parks, to the north and south of the White House, respectively, form President’s Park and are under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS). They belong to the public, to us.

Areas of the park have been closed before (and often temporarily for arriving heads of state), but the fences that went up as May became June posed serious incursions into the democratically sacrosanct public realm. The barriers began as low temporary railings over the weekend of May 30 in a frightened reaction to large protests against the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis on May 25 and the killings of so many other black people before him across the nation. As demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter grew in downtown Washington, the buffer around the White House expanded until it had pushed the nearest protests into H Street NW, a two-block remove. Late in the afternoon of June 1, hundreds of peaceful protestors were violently struck with tear gas and sting grenades fired by police to cut a large path for the president’s now infamous walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for photographs. By Thursday, June 4, as more military vehicles poured into Washington, the fences had been hardened into cage-like walls more than eight feet high around the 82-acre whole of President’s Park. It was a reprehensible seizure of First Amendment space. (more…)

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BY CAROL E. BECKER

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The oak is our national tree for a reason. Oaks are endemic to our native landscapes in all regions of the United States, easily identified by their leaf shape and gnarly branches. The size of the mature white oak (Quercus alba), spreading up to 120 feet, is one reason we associate oaks with strength, along with the density of the wood and an oak fire’s burning hot and long in the woodstove. Native oaks fall into two taxonomic groups, white and red, and their landscape uses vary depending on soil moisture. But most important today, as Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, points out, oaks are the “quintessential wildlife plants.” They provide food to more than 500 species of caterpillars and other insects. In this fact lies the oaks’ value to the entire food chain, from the birds that eat insects to the humans who rest in the trees’ shade.

We need more oaks in our landscapes, mostly for the food benefits they provide. But instead of being sought-after plants, oaks are underused, undermarketed, undercultivated, and therefore in short supply. Landscape architects don’t often use them, clients don’t ask for them, and thus growers don’t grow them. A reverse scenario also holds true. Few nurseries grow Quercus species, particularly Q. macrocarpa, Q. muehlenbergii, and Q. alba, because they are hard to grow and suffer significant transplant death. So clients don’t see them and don’t ask for them and, in turn, landscape architects don’t specify them. Whatever the reason and wherever you start, it’s a circle of mutually reinforcing supply and demand.

The oaks are but one example of the larger problem for design professionals working to create sustainable landscapes with hardy plants in a given region. The interest in doing so—the imperative of doing so—is unequaled by the supply of appropriate species. This shortage also helps perpetuate clients’ expectations of plant specimens they do in fact see at the retail level, plants that are well-shaped, blooming, varied, and maybe even a bit exotic. The landscape architecture profession has taught them to value this aesthetic at least since the mid-19th century, when Andrew Jackson Downing codified ornamental landscaping in A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Now, we find ourselves in a world where, in just the past 40 years, half the songbird species in the United States and more than 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared. Honeybees and bumblebees have fallen to a mysterious virus, a cataclysmic problem that threatens the entire food chain. We do know how to reverse these trends and preserve biodiversity in landscapes, but we can’t get it done because clients still want constantly blooming and well-shaped plants with no bugs.

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