CJ needs help

PLANT PORTALS

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Who is CJ?

He is the protagonist in the series, The Landscape Architect.

The Landscape Architect is the title of a series of fictional autobiographies. These are CJ’s autobiographies. In this series, CJ reveals the twists and turns in the development of his career as a professional landscape architect via his interactions with cultures, landscapes, gardens and plants of the world—where the unexpected and downright strange become daily facts of life.

Tangier Gardens is the debut novel in that series.

When you dig into Tangier Gardens, you will find a contemporary coming of age action novel about CJ (Christopher Janus), who like us is facing a broad range of distressing challenges.

CJ needs a break. He has been busting his hump full time six years at university with one more class till graduation.

He wanted just a few moments of repose before getting on with his career.

Didn’t happen. We all sadly know that story. But how did CJ deal with it? Tangier Gardens is that story.

CJ, studying landscape architecture, is into pedestrian towns and warm sandy beaches. For his last class, a term abroad design study, he’s on his way to Tangier, a town with sandy beaches on the Med and a historical pedestrian district, the medina. 

However, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and landing in Tangier immediately upsets his planned easy observe-and-check-the-box design study. He is thrown off balance and he has to start all over from scratch–no more easy study.

With Andalusian legacies, languorous gardens, Moroccan markets and ancient medinas, Tangier Gardens brings Mediterranean life to the armchair traveler.

If you are: 

-A nature lover, into urban gardening or a landscape architecture aficionado;

-Curious about all things green–the environment, plants, gardens, landscape;

-Intrigued about the North African multi-cultural, mystical history of people and plants, then

Tangier Gardens IS A MUST.

Tangier Gardens is the debut novel in the series The Landscape Architect. Is the landscape CJ’s worst enemy or is he his own worst enemy? Can he design his way out of this conundrum? Could coming of age be more awkward?

If CJ and his Tangier Gardens intrigue, then please send me your email address for information about free pre-launch copies and 2022 launch schedule.

Sun and fun

…for millennia…Tangier has been a nexus of Mediterranean, African and European cultures…a classic melting pot that is still on the boil.

Christopher Janus, CJ, had visited Morocco once with his mom when he was only seven–he had memories. He remembered sun and fun. Now nearly two decades later he, studying landscape architecture at university, was planning a design study term abroad. This, however was to become a different journey. The Moroccan tourism advertising was for sun and fun. That’s what he hoped for.

He had been six years full time at university. He needed a break. Sun and fun on the Mediterranean in Morocco? Great Moroccan markets in the pedestrian-only medinas? What was not to like?

When CJ crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and arrived in Tangier, the cultural complexity…the mists of cultural history…the cultural reality fog overwhelmed him. His carefully planned design study disappeared into a thickly uncertain maze. In this journey, he was blinded. He couldn’t find any portals.

His attempts to work through that maze is the basis for my upcoming novel, Tangier Gardens.

Exotic

Nigh onto 10 years ago I had just finished 25 years building gardens and landscapes in the Arabian Sands. The Sands were my life. 

But be sure about this…the Sands are more than sand. 

To reflect the huge unknowns of the Sands, my blog banner became part of the enigma of the Sands. Exotic for a Midwestern American, you bet. But exotic is a 25cent tourism marketing adjective. The Sands are not.

Ten years have passed. I live in another exotic landscape, this time a mountain landscape. Ten years of explorations in this new landscape have enthralled me, so I am updating the blog banner.

Exotic? Borders on magic realism, neo-romanticism and eco-gothic. They are all alive and well in exotic landscapes. as are rarely predictable and always inspiring plants and gardens. Just take a walk, open your eyes and ears. Listen, feel, see, discover.

WP19Apr2017r

Old banner–the sands–always an enigma–sun but no soil or water.

flahertylandscape2021Update

New banner–the plentitude of soil and water.

Want to take a walk?

Some days it is hard to get up from the computer.

Other days it is hard to take my eyes off my mobile.

Well, today it is time to take a walk for walk’s sake.

Take a walk?

Uphill? I’ll give it a try. But how far?

Do it!

Couldn’t be happier

I couldn’t be happier

Spring is breaking out everywhere and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve had 75 of these northern hemisphere springs and I still bubble with joy as I watch the reveal. That, in and of itself, is reason enough for me to be happy.

Every day when I take a walk, something new awakens me, even calls me. Below I share my good fortune.

SunshineCrocus

It’s just a photo, but the sun was warm and these flowers were smiling.

SpringFlowerinWoods

Hepatica nobilis coming alive out of the forest floor–amazing what a little sunshine lets us discover. Hepatica nobilis? Liverwort is the common name because its leaves, when they finally emerge, are shaped like the human liver. Long ago, especially at the time when the Doctrine of Signs prevailed, hepatica was used medicinally. According to the doctrine the appearance of the plant could be used to discern which organ, body part or fluid the plant was able to treat–hepatica’s leaves are three-parted, just like a liver, and the underside of the leaves is the same colour as raw liver. It was therefore used to treat liver and kidney problems and to arrest bleeding–nowadays however it is identified as a poison. On the day, I was happy to see spring revealing itself after a cold lifeless winter.

SnowDrops

Snowdrops–spring enthralls me. Coming out of nothing. Nothing? Next to the snowdrops can you see last fall’s rotting apples nutrientizing the soil. And me, I saw these snowdrops as a clump of trees. Crazy? Or just drunk with pleasure?

KaffirLily

Kaffir lilies–Winter telling me to get ready for spring. Also these kaffir lilies remind me that I, a Christian westerner, survived residing for two decades in Muslim countries. So what?

HazelNutCatkins

Hazelnut catkins–there is nothing I like better than hazelnuts enrobed in milk chocolate. And these catkins will make it happen.

EverywhereintheLandscape

Even the larger landscape with its grassy meadows, shrubs and trees is beginning to show its spring bump. That is exciting and beautiful.

Can’t wait for another walk tomorrow.

Engineers’ Delight

In the world, the very broad world of ‘engineers’, there are huge works that stun and amaze. There are also smaller works that read very clearly as the ‘engineers’ world’.

Engineers'Delight

Materials, details, scale, colors and content. Definitely ‘Engineers’ world’.

Portals

I have talked about, that is, written about portals…portals and plants.

What do I mean when I say portals? It is more about what words can not describe. What?

Perhaps you remember some TV shows, Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond…but this is about real life. That’s right, real life.

For centuries, dare I say, millennia, people, humans have spoken about, written and explored the indescribable relationships between plants and humans. Portals is my effort to continue that chain of communication.

GnomeAdvent

This last week I had a birthday. I received from my dearest friend two books of illustrations by the Swiss, Ernst Kreidolf. Both images in this post are his work. He spent his lifetime addressing the communication relationship between people and plants.

Ernst used gnomes and elves to describe these indescribable relationships.

Let me share some of Ernst Kreidolf’s life story.

He was born over one hundred years ago in Switzerland. He was a classic artist, a pioneer of children’s illustration and picture books…and gnomes in the popular imagination! His magical illustrations have a timeless quality. To this day, his art is still very popular in Switzerland.

Ernst Kreidolf und die Pflanzen

Kreidolf’s famous books first appeared in 1901 Die schlafenden Bäume (The Sleeping Trees), in 1902 Die Wiesenzwerge (The Meadow Dwarves), and in 1903 Schwaetzchen fuer Kinder (Chit Chat for Children).  In 1904 Kreidolf was involved in Richard Dehmel’s Buntscheck, ein Sammelbuch für Kinder (Patchwork, a Scrap-book for Children).  In 1905 the book Alte Kinderreime (Old Nursery Rhymes) appeared followed by in 1908 Sommervoegel (Butterflies).  The latter was highly acclaimed by Hermann Hesse.  In 1911 Der Gartentraum (The Garden Dream) was published.

In 1920 Blumen Ritornelle (Flower Chorus), in 1922 Alpenblumenmaerchen (Alpine Flower Fairy-tales), in 1924 Ein Wintermaerchen (A Winter’s Fairy-tale), in 1926 Lenzgesind (Servants of the Spring), in 1928 Das Hundefest (The Dogs’ Party), in 1929 Bei den Gnomen und Elfen (With the Gnomes and Elves), in 1931 Grashupfer (The Grasshopper), in 1932 Aus versunk´nen Gärten (From the Sunken Gardens) and in 1935 Die Himmelreich-Wiese (The Kingdom of Heaven Meadow).

 His illustrations carry us off to the world of fairytales and dreams, where plants play a leading role.

Snognomobile

One cannot but wonder at his ability in both identifying the key characteristics of plants and giving humans a unique interaction with them.

His legacy endures as a tender ode to Mother Nature’s glory. The best illustrated web site with Kreidolf biography–a fantastic display of his water-color work.

And portals? His work was all about portals.