Posts Tagged ‘horticulture’

WHAT’S IN A NATIVAR?

BY CAROL BECKER

And what isn’t? Designers and pollinators are finding out.

FROM THE JULY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a medium-sized shrub that is appealing in sunny areas of the landscape because of its glossy green leaves; unusual fragrant, round, spiky flowers; and rust-red fall color. It’s especially useful in wet areas and rain gardens where it absorbs excess water and even tolerates standing water. Hummingbirds and butterflies favor the plant for its nectar, and 24 species of birds seek it out for its small, round nuts that persist into winter. This native of the Midwest and East Coast is easily grown and little bothered by pests in the garden. Yet it is not commonly used in built landscapes. Although everything else about this shrub is right, its growth pattern and size are not. The straight species can be quite large at 12 feet high or more, and it has an annoying habit of sending branches in all directions, so it looks willy-nilly rather quickly if it’s not pruned regularly and often.

But here come Sputnik, Sugar Shack, and Fiber Optics, cultivars of buttonbush that represent a tamed C. occidentalis. Cultivars are plants produced by selective breeding or vegetative propagation to achieve better traits for the landscape. Fiber Optics is a species mutation discovered by an inventory employee in the bare-root fields of Bailey Nurseries, says the company’s public relations and communications specialist, Ryan McEnaney. Bailey trialed the plant, a process that takes several years, and brought it to market in 2017. It has a reliably smaller size at five to six feet high and a branching habit that keeps it compact and rounded, while retaining all the desired features of the straight species.

The Fiber Optics buttonbush is what is known as a nativar. The term is not scientific but has value to the industry in (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

A landscape design course for Ohio middle schoolers could open new doors to the profession.

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

Scott Mental is a sculptor and middle school teacher from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a southeast suburb of Cleveland. Mental now lives and works about 65 miles due north of Columbus in a place called Bucyrus, which the mayor likes to call “the small city in the middle of everywhere.”

Between Chagrin Falls and Bucyrus, Mental made a few pit stops. In 2007, he earned a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture from Northern Michigan University. He stayed there until 2009 to work on a master’s in public administration, which he finished in 2010. Then he got an MFA in sculpture from the University of South Carolina in 2012 and, finally, a master’s in art education from Case Western Reserve University in 2015. At Bucyrus Middle School, where he has worked since 2015, his range of activities has not narrowed: He teaches art, coaches football and baseball, and advises both the art club and the yearbook committee.

In 2017, after the Bucyrus City Schools administration invited its staff to propose their own curricula for elective courses, Mental began leading a course in landscape design for seventh and eighth graders. (more…)

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BY JENNIFER REUT / PHOTOGRAPHY FROM THE PLANTHUNTER BY DANIEL SHIPP

The Planthunter finds an audience searching for connections between people and plants.

FROM THE MAY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

The Planthunter, despite its adventuresome name, is not about seeking bromeliads in the wilds, except that it kind of is. A web publication and now a book just out from Timber Press, The Planthunter is a platform for a community of designers and artists who have congregated around the landscape designer and writer Georgina Reid, and her aspiration to create a space where the many shades of our relationship with gardening could be unpacked. The Planthunter is for those who seek not specimen plants but a place to question the culture of people and plants.

Reid is based in New South Wales, Australia. She began looking for ways to upend her thinking after she had been designing gardens for about a decade and found herself frustrated with the publications she was reading. “I just got to a point where I was asking a lot of questions about gardens and design,” Reid says. “If you had a gardening magazine, you were being very practical and very horticultural, and there didn’t seem to be room to explore the wider context of plants and gardens in relation to culture and in relation to art design.”

“But there were no real conversations happening around why we garden.” (more…)

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BY JONATHAN LERNER

An enchanting but failing maple allée gets a second life.

FROM THE MARCH 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

An allée can dignify an arrival, draw the eye to a focal point, even partition an open space. To do any of these effectively, it must appear linear, uniform, and repetitive. Of course, composed of living trees it can’t really be flawless; still, it ought to give the illusion of perfection. So there’s a problem if some of an allée’s constituent trees fail to thrive, leaving gaps and slumps in an assemblage meant to appear continuous and taut. That’s what was happening at Storm King.

The Storm King Art Center occupies 500 acres of rolling terrain about 50 miles north of Manhattan in the Hudson Highlands, a region of lushly vegetated, softly eroded low mountains. More than 100 monumental works by renowned artists are sited permanently throughout (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The lago at Roberto Burle Marx’s Sítio, which he composed by eye from truckloads of species collected during his botanical expeditions. Image courtesy Julian Raxworthy.

It’s time for landscape architects to re-embrace what makes them fundamentally different.

 

Since its inception, it’s been hard to find much agreement in landscape architecture over the profession’s purpose and how it should work. For some contemporary designers, landscape architecture, in theory if a bit less in practice, is most visible when ecological systems are designed and deployed to remediate the earth, water, air, and biomes, often at an infrastructural scale. And yet, a profession wholly obsessed with infrastructure would seem to miss the trees for the forest.

The Australian landscape architect Julian Raxworthy posits a way forward in his new book, Overgrown: Practices Between Landscape Architecture and Gardening, published by The MIT Press. Landscape architects, he notes, have retreated from the defining element of their corner of the spatial world: the development and management of planting design. Plants, he argues, are defined by their growth over time and the maintenance used to train them. Gardeners (whose ranks Raxworthy once populated) haven’t lost track of this fact. Growth is landscape architecture’s fundamental currency. From there, he launches into a populist call to tear down the blue collar/white collar divide between gardeners and landscape architects. Raxworthy (who is headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after living in Cape Town, South Africa, for five years, teaching at the University of Cape Town) seems to admire messiness and rebellion against the bespoke and delicate. That preference is not surprising if you chat him up about his days as a music writer in the 1980s in Sydney, attending shows by Public Enemy and Dead Kennedys. Of one of his case study projects (created by a designer who never studied landscape architecture), he writes: “As a gardener rather than a landscape architect, the only plans Korte produced for the project were to satisfy the authorities. All other decisions arose organically through spending four years on site with a gang of four young German laborers who had returned from Brazil and smoked marijuana constantly. He looked back on this way of working with some nostalgia, saying that this time on site was the height of his career.” (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

I speak from the heart, and this month, it’s about something even more important to landscape architecture than politics: drawings—the wonderful drawings designers make to build their projects. You love drawings. We love drawings. They’re the sheet music to sites. When Mildred Schmertz, the famed former editor of Architectural Record, died earlier this year, I recalled a phone conversation she and I had when I was a newbie at Architecture magazine. She said: “Drawings, drawings, drawings. You can never give readers enough drawings.”

When we look at drawings here at the magazine, and we are greedy about hauling them in from offices, we want to have it all ways in service to you, the reader. We want scope. We also want detail. These two imperatives duke it out for the four corners of the magazine spreads. We think we’ve made the right decision. Then comes a thoughtful letter like one I got (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates plan uses a series of intensely programmed pavilions at the park’s urban edge. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Update 4/10/2018: The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has chosen Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ plan as the competition winner. 

At 22 acres on a prime Detroit River site southwest of downtown, the future West Riverfront Park could become the city’s new civic front yard.

A design competition hosted by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has collected a short list of plans to fill this need, with work by GGN, James Corner Field Operations, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), and Hood Studio making the cut. The winner will be determined by jury later this month. Several of these plans deal with the site’s relative surrounding vacancy and lack of connection to active, urban uses by building up dense layers of programming, but differ on whether the park is to be a regional centerpiece or one notable amenity along the Detroit RiverWalk’s miles-long string of them.

West Riverfront Park is part of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s larger plan to rejuvenate 5.5 miles of the Detroit Riverfront. East of downtown Detroit, 3.5 miles of the RiverWalk is already complete, featuring entertainment and event spaces, sculpture gardens, cultural venues, parks, and hotels. At the confluence of downtown, Corktown, and Mexicantown, the West Riverfront Park sits near some of the city’s most dramatically resurgent (and stable) neighborhoods. But the park site has been largely barren for decades. Previously, a hulking warehouse for the Detroit Free Press dominated the site. It was privately owned and closed off to the public for about (more…)

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