Friday, December 28, 2007

The Un-Central Park

West 8 wins Governors Island

What a great project, and what a great rendering. It looks almost like airbrushed fondant frosting. I am looking forward to more details of the design.

I must say, I go to West 8 to see what top notch graphics are looking like.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Designing the Parks Conference

This looks like a conference I would like to make.
Check it out: Designing the Parks

I'm especially interested in the future of park design. How is technology and the mass media changing how we use parks? How should we as designers be responding to the next generation of park users? More high tech? Or much less high tech, and more nature?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

A cold blustery day hit us this morning with a couple of inches of snow. We had a Roadrunner move in this fall under the cedar trees just out the back door. He/she is the most interesting creature. He is curious and not real afraid of us. He doesn't mind the cats. I see him most every day I'm home, skirting about from cedar to cedar.

I had to check out some facts on this bird. He looks like one I don't mind hanging out at my back door. As long as he doesn't eat my baby chickens.

Curious Facts

Roadrunners are quick enough to catch and eat rattlesnakes.

Roadrunners prefer walking or running and attain speeds up to 17 mph. hour

The Roadrunner is also called the Chaparral Cock.

The Roadrunner reabsorbs water from its feces before excretion.

The Roadrunner’s nasal gland eliminates excess salt, instead of using the urinary tract like most birds.

The Roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ice Storm 2007

I'm trying to think of a good reason to plant pear trees in a region with high winds and ice storms?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Undaunted Garden

Ice Storm 2007

If you have watched the news or live in Oklahoma, then you know that we had one of the most devastating ice storms in our history. Power is still off at day 4 for over 200,000 people in Central Oklahoma. Ice storms are frequent to Central Oklahoma and property damage is inevitable. I have driven through north Oklahoma City and Norman and its neighborhoods. There are some lessons to be learned from the storm.

Lauren Springer wrote a book called The Undaunted Garden Planting for Weather-Resilient Beauty. In it she discusses how plants have evolved and adapted to inclement weather common to its place of nativity. Plants have special adaptations that we should take special notice of. When we take plants out of their native systems and use them as ornamentals we are taking them out of context. If we look back at the environment in which they evolved get a much better understanding of what they can do and what their limitations are.

An example is beach plants must be resilient to wind in order to survive. Palm trees can survive hurricanes because of their lack of branches. Banana leaves can shred and still be viable because of their specially adapted vascular systems. Evergreen trees have adapted to snow loads and short summer seasons. We know that succulents can take drought and Cypress trees with their specially adapted breathing knees can grow in a swamp.

Lauren Springer's book talks about the importance of plant origins. She gives the example of the English garden and how the flowers are large and the stalks are soft because of the moderate and tempered climate. There is a reason gardeners do not grow delphiniums in Oklahoma. More importantly she talks about native plants to North America and their special adaptations. The Midwest has special weather--high winds, ice storms, temperature fluctuations, severe hail, humidity and drought. So it would seem that plants native to this climate have special adaptations suited to its unique weather.

This was very evident in our recent ice storm. Yes, Pecans and oaks fell. Most notable damage to native species was on declining trees. Young native trees that had grown to fast due to added fertilizer and care also show severe damage, especially their crowns. A great comparison is the Mexican Sycamore and the native Sycamore. The Mexican Sycamores are completely limbless and crushed. The native sycamore weathered very well loosing only a few limbs. The Lacebark Elm, a non-native were annihilated. Other elms took damage too, especially older elms, but many of the natives faired well and will recover reasonably well. Pear trees--there should be a deposit required for every pear tree that is planted. A deposit that plants good sturdy trees that survive. Many of the Redbuds didn't even sag, and the native Caddo maple faired well.

So when planting in Oklahoma do your homework. Don't plant every new ornamental that comes down the line. Look for ornamentals with roots in the Midwest or be prepared to be devastated the next ice storm or hail storm. Natives aren't immune, but they are resilient.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Still kicking

End of semester...

New Job....

The flu...

Computer crash...and re-crash...

I'm struggling to meet all of my obligations at the present, and my blog is not at the very top of the list. Actually, I'm postponing one of my most dreaded school projects as I write. I can't say to much about it, except that it is painfully boring. I tend to glaze over when I'm not stimulated.

I did run across a great site today. I read the Larch Serve, I have for many years. I'm a lurker only. However, it seems at work I've been needing good solid info, and the Brick Industry site was listed on the Larch Serve. There is great technical notes: Brick in Landscape, Misc apps, Paver Systems, and Garden Walls.

This is a great resource, especially for us new guys on the job or in school.