Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Smart, Sustainable Green Wall

Green Walls are very hip...and expensive. Not to mention that they are very difficult to sustain outside in our climate. Whatever zone Chicago is called these days, we still can get the deep cold with no snow cover and that does in a lot of plants. Every year, there is a plant that suffers from stress: cold, hot, dry, wet, insect, disease or human mistreatment; every year, some plant doesn't make it. This past winter, both mature and newer Harry's Walking Stick all seemed to perish.
So, why not have this dried Green Wall to lift your spirits? I do not know the price, but if you treat it as a good piece of art, you will have your money's worth.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery

Here are a few random literal/visual/otherwise reflections on a vibrant addition to our local Evanston spaces. Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery.

What a delight to experience others creating an environment that is both stimulating and calming with plants, art and "objets." I love how they use the back of this expensive piece of furniture for a blackboard (with that variegated Iris to pop the black): very out-of-the-box.

Reflecting my predilections, the place shows off carnivorous plants, ferns and succulents to their advantages (light conditions mid-day made photographing "interesting"). The owner, Louise Rosenberg, "founded Cultivate on the belief that plants, art and community create a wonderful synergy that is self-sustaining." (Quote from Magic-on-Main 7/27 blog post.) I felt the manifestation!

While Cultivate works as an integrated creation, I was engaged by exploring so many vignettes that also work independently. There is also a lively extension of the space on the back porch. No pix, but I did put my money where my mouth is and support locally when I bought a vintage, white-painted, metal hanging basket for 4-season interest for my dark, covered, north-facing back porch.
Below, you can see one of the otherworldly light reflections.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The landscape of the street and the surf

Contemporary version of Toto. And lateral current beach buoy.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Last weekend to see Julie Green's "Last Supper" Exhibit

I was astonished, educated and very moved by this exhibit at Northwestern's Block Gallery. Try to get there if you can. I have always been against the Death Penalty, so I wonder if this show caused anybody in favor to re-examine their pose.

I was especially drawn to many of the small plates embodying inmates who do not eat a last meal before execution or did not wish the contents to be made public.

We take so much for granted. I believed working with landscapes has taught me much about lack of control. But this exhibit takes that notion to a much deeper level.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Contrast and Bird's-Eye View

White made pop by green.

Orange intensifies the blue.

Tiger Eyes Staghorn Sumac from above (photo by Rick Del Visco).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hummingbird Moth and Monarch Sent By Clients From Their Gardens

Hummingbird Moth is on Buttonbush. Monarch is on Purple Coneflower. Both native.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Effects of Record Rain and Gray Skies on Container Plants

I stopped by a client's in the northern suburbs last week about 6 weeks after we had done their annual plantings in containers.

May and June are officially our wettest since Illinois began record keeping in 1895, according to Jim Angel, State Climatologist. He also said (in a Tribune article) that four of the five wettest Junes in state history have happened since 1998. That was the year I began in the landscape business.

For those of us who listen to Climate Scientists, these records tell us something about the effects of Climate Change. Personally, since I have worked with landscape these past 18 years, I have noticed huge shifts in weather patterns. Everything seems to be extreme. So, for example, this year we have a late, cold wettest Spring/Summer.
Last year, we had record amounts of snow.
The two summers before, we had droughts...and when the extreme rain events occur in a drought: the precipitation just rolls off the baked earth and is not absorbed.
During one of those droughts, a number of suburbs away from Lake Michigan had water restrictions (not quite as severe as California now or where we partner with AFOPADI in Guatemala through SSG). Down by the lake where I live, our proximity to the lake has kept us in La La land...although Evanston is a progressive community working on being sustainable about green things. 
In Chicago, when the rain overflows the sewers, the city lets out the overflow into Lake Michigan and usually the beaches are closed for a few days.
We've hardly had enough heat this summer for much beach time...
And while rain barrels and rain gardens are an addition (if done correctly), they are hardly adequate to absorb abnormally high rainfalls.
So, the key is to examine the larger constructs. Not just how we use landscape, but how our societal values figure into our long-range choices about sustainability.

Enjoy these annual containers while we can still have them!
(PS: The client's landscapers planted those multi-colored wax begonias.)