Learning in the Garden, Part 3

Ah, the glories of basil! / image: Memory Trees

Debbie Lee Bester, Executive Director, is a co-founder of Memory Trees, a 501(c)(3) social impact organization with a mission of “Giving Back Life…In Abundance.” Memory Trees is moving the social needle on food insecurity and inspiring healthier communities by focusing on: education, social change, food donations, female empowerment, sustainable food, entrepreneurship, public/private collaboration, urban farming, self-sufficiency, and microlending. We are very pleased to have Debbie share her thoughts about the Highridge garden project that Memory Trees developed and continues to facilitate.

–Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair

Where is your garden located? Is it a public or private facility?

The Highridge Facility for at-risk youth is located on a Palm Beach County-owned property in West Palm Beach, FL. This residential facility accommodates approximately 72 youths, aged 9-16, in six individual dormitories (12 youths per house).

Please tell us more about your garden facility—what is the total size, and what types of amenities and spaces does it include, such as garden beds, prep area, or an outdoor classroom? How many children use the garden?

There are two garden facilities: a 3-bed, above-ground planter setup for the commercial kitchen, and one planter alongside each of the 6 dormitories, as described above.

The planters for the commercial kitchen are approximately 100 square feet in total size, and the planters built next to each dormitory are about 16 square feet each.

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Landscapes in Art, Part 2

ASLA 2013 Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum / image: Megan Bean

In the previous post taking a look at Professional Practice Network (PPN) members’ favorite portrayals of landscapes in art, we focused on paintings, photography, posters, and prints. This time, we’re taking a look at all the other forms of art mentioned, from music to movies.

A few members also mentioned more unusual art forms, such as advertising, including landscapes captured in Anthropologie photo shoots and elsewhere: “I like seeing designed spaces in a lot of current marketing/advertising—it’s becoming part of the embedded culture.”

Below, we run through some of the films, books, and other works of art where landscapes figure prominently.

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Mycorrhizae: Ecological Succession’s Copilot

Harvesting mycorrhizae off roots / image: James Sottilo

Ecological Succession: A Driving Force

Ecological succession (ES) remains one of the most significant determinants of Earth’s biotic life and diversity. Defined as the process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time, ES drives the environmental shifts of nature and conceives the biological architectures of past, present, and future landscapes.

ES can be broken into three recognized phases: primary succession, secondary succession, and climax community. Primary succession is the series of community changes that occur within an entirely new habitat that has been devoid of life—for example, after a major disturbance such as flood, fire, or volcanic release.

Secondary succession is the process by which an established community is replaced by the next set of biodiversity. Most biological communities remain in a continual state of secondary succession as communities experience minor disturbances, either natural or man-made, that inhibit or reset the successional process.

A climax community represents a stable end product of the successional sequence. Many recognize the Oak-Poplar Forest as a climax community but still acknowledge that any environment can be suddenly disorganized by random variables such as introduced, non-native species. It is said that ES will always remain as Earth is in an ever-changing state.

Today, many forget to recognize the successional phases that are undoubtedly turning all around us. Aesthetic, monetary, and time resources can, at times, skew an image, only accounting for the “now” variables. While this planning stage is necessary, a landscape may be on borrowed time without subsequent conception. Where will the landscape be in one year, one decade, one generation from now? How will it be enjoyed? Will it serve a greater purpose than its original scope? What changes have and will be exerted on this space? Questions such as these can help build upon the natural rhythms of succession while also bridging histories.

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Demographics Survey: Last Call for Responses

image: iStock © petervician

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) has been conducting a survey for the past several months about demographics. Please help and take the survey if you have not done so already. It is easy and quick.

Where we are:

  • We are at 3% (of ASLA membership) with 483 responses (as of June 13, 2017).
  • We have a ratio of 25% men and 75% women among the respondents.

Where we want to be:

  • We would like 5-10% of membership to complete the survey, which is 750 to 1,500 respondents.
  • We want a ratio matching our membership, which is closer to 62% men and 35% women (2.3% undisclosed). Men needed!

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Creating Pollinator Habitat Along Roadsides

Winslow Way, Bainbridge Island, WA / image: Alexandra Hay

Below, you’ll find a re-post from Entomology Today of “Study Finds Bees Can Have Their Wildflowers and Almonds, Too” by Josh Lancette—a timely subject, with Pollinator Week later this month and an ASLA Online Learning webinar on the topic, Creating Pollinator Habitat Along Roadsides, coming up on June 14 hosted by the Transportation PPN.

The post discusses the use of wildflower planting strips adjacent to almond orchards in California. While at first blush it might appear that this practice has little to do with transportation, keep in mind that millions of miles of rural roadways are adjacent or proximate to agricultural fields. Furthermore, Section 130 of the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 (STURAA) added a requirement that native wildflower seeds or seedlings or both be planted as part of any landscaping project undertaken on the federal-aid highway system. This requirement is mandatory and applies only to federal funded landscaping projects. One quarter to one percent of funds used for landscaping projects must be used to plant native wildflowers.

Other federal initiatives promoting the use of native wildflower plantings exist. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) defines a field border as a “strip of permanent vegetation established at the edge or around the perimeter of an agricultural field.” The practice is used, among other things, to provide pollinator habitat and to manage agricultural pest populations. Field borders assist with agricultural pest management by providing habitat to beneficial organisms or as a place for agricultural pests to congregate. When field borders are designed for pollinator habitat, they have been shown to facilitate pollination services to agricultural crops. A properly designed field border provides nectar and pollen sources for pollinators when the target crops are not in bloom. This practice is currently being used in Michigan, where “flowering plant strips” increase crop productivity through the support of beneficial insects and pollinators.

Landscape architects engaged in planting roadside vegetation must be thoughtful. Selecting plant material so the crops are not harmed (e.g. plum pox virus, which attacks stone crops) but are benefited should be an integral part of the planting program.

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University Landscape Architects Unite!

Crown Commons at Duke University, designed by Reed Hilderbrand / image: Mark Hough

Duke University (along with me, its resident landscape architect) recently served as host for the inaugural conference of the newly formed Association of University Landscape Architects. For several beautiful, albeit unseasonably warm, days toward the end of April, a group of 25 landscape architects representing 22 universities from across the country joined together to share ideas, experiences, and best practices unique to our niche segment of the profession.

Creating such a group is something I have been pondering for about a decade now. Several of us—landscape architects working on the client side in university planning/design offices—have been running into each other for many years at ASLA Annual Meetings and Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) conferences. We would often find ourselves lamenting the lack of content specific to what we do. We could find a campus tour here and there, and perhaps a couple of pertinent education sessions tucked into an otherwise crowded slate, but the time we would spend together discussing common issues proved most applicable and valuable to our specific work. The idea that we could form some version of an association was floated around at various times and was consistently met with near universal enthusiasm.

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Landscapes in Art, Part 1

Vincent van Gogh, Cypresses, 1889, oil on canvas / image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members for their favorite portrayal of a landscape in a work of art, we welcomed answers from any medium: paintings, movies, literature, and anything else our members might want to highlight. The answers received covered a diverse range of provenances and forms, and many were very enthusiastic. As one respondent succinctly put it: “So many! Love those that express the emotion of unique landscape experiences.”

Paintings and painters were the most popular type of response, with Monet and Van Gogh as the two clear favorites. However, many other artists and works were mentioned, and they are highlighted below. This post focuses on 2D art: paintings, photography, posters, and prints. Next time, we’ll review responses that covered everything from films to music to video games. (For even more information in this vein, check out Some Landscapeschronology of events, books, and artworks depicting landscape as a medium since 1800 BCE.)

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