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.

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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.

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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.

Three Kings or …

…virgin? Take your pick.

This landscape has been labelled, the Jungfrau Region. The Jungfrau is the virgin. I see it differently. These are the Three Kings.

Mountain peaks from left to right, Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.

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Snow = Water. Water = King.

But what I like most about this photo is the foreground. On the top of the center foreground hill, see below, is a place to have a cup of coffee and a piece of pie while enjoying unrestricted visual access to the Kings. 

Enlargement

Look carefully in the right center background to see the Jungfraujoch Observatory at 3,400 meters above sea level.

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I looked out the window today. Fall had snuck in, big time. Nearby a huge old linden tree was freely droping leaves. It made me think of snow flakes, large snow flakes drifting down on a day with no wind.

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1.European linden, Tilia x vulgaris

It was mid afternoon. There was still an autumnal warm sun. I had to take a walk.

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2.I wanted to take my peeps for a ride on the nearest lake; but along the way, I became distracted. This image made me think, if I was looking at a city, would I be looking at something as diverse as this? Then I thought green ferns and gray rocks. Such a pleasant combination. Then I headed to the lake.

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3.When I showed my peeps the boat, they said no way. Not sea worthy.

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4.Then they pointed to the ship they wanted. I looked. Instead of the ship I saw the fall color in the backgroud forests.

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5.I followed the forests along the lake edge until I saw this town. Then I thought, no need to go out on the lake. It would be more fun following paths in the forest.

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6.Ahhh, yes, this was my pleasure in the Lauterbrunnen Valley away from the tourist route.

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7.And as usual for me, I had to look not only at the large forest landscape but also at those life forms that were sheltering under the forest canopy. And as I examined, I was unfortunately forced to ask if this was a diverse village. Upon closer inspection…one bite makes you larger and another makes you small…

It was time for me to get back home for dinner.

Obsession…but it feels like a fetish…

A fetish?! …an inanimate object with supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit

I have been living the last ten years in a landscape rich with water, rich with soil and rich with plants, the Berner Oberland in Switzerland. Each day this Berner Oberland landscape inspires me. I am happy in and enthused by this Swiss Alp landscape.

But yesterday, I came across an old folder of images that stunned me. Stunned? Yes, because as I went through all 50 of them, they gradually inserted themselves. Internally, I could not understand how the barren emptiness of the Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter, could elicit such a strange, such a pulsating attraction.

It was just memories, right? Yeah, ten years ago, I lived and worked there for more than a year as the installation manager for the landscape at this resort destination–that had its own memories–but the desert–the Empty Quarter has its own magnetism.

I feel it; but I don’t understand it.

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Credits to the client TDIC, the architecture team of Dubarch/Northpoint, the interior design by Hirsch, Bedner Associates and the landscape architecture team LMS International.

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Comments on the images:

  • Something fundamental, basic. Where there is water, there is life. Where there is no water, there is no life.
  • After water, this Empty Quarter requires protection for safety of life.
  • The sand dunes are the seductive face of the Empty Quarter.
  • Why do you think the Bedouins call it Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter? 

Landscape Visualization

Not so long ago, I participated in a survey by an American specialist in landscape visualization. The survey focussed on the inclusion of visual utility infrastructure as it is built through the landscape.

At the close of the survey a question was asked for each to identify the ideal image of landscape visualization. Well, it would have been easy to say–landscape without any infrastructure visual intrusion would have been my preference.

Could not do that. But I did add that since humans had been living with and using the landscape as long as written history, the ideal landscape image should include successful use, accomodation and management of the landscape.

Just recently, I found a photogenic example that expressed my ideal. The images follow below.

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This foreground field, occurring at the confluence of three mountain valleys and two mountain lakes, was for decades a central air field for national self-defence. When that defence was transferred from props to jets, the airfield became community pasture and recreation for 25,000 local people. The red circle, enlarged in the image below, shows how well major electrical infrastructure has been brought through the adjacent forest.

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This is an enlargement of the red circle shown in the above image.  I should note that this landscape, incredibly photogenic, is regularly photographed by me in all seasons. And despite the well camouflaged electrical power line infrastructure, I always try to frame my photos without any visible infrastructure. We put up with that infrastructure to ameliorate climate, daylight and communications. That is our way of life.

…always looking for HOPE?

Where to find it?

Today I was lucky.

I discovered hope in a simple home made courtyard.

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When looking for hope…it can always be found…don’t give up…expand your search…change the scale of observation…works for me. Primula vulgaris and flagstone paving.

 

Wood

…dream or old school or sustainable?

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From the forest to the town.

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In the town.

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Duplex?

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Neighbors in the duplex make the shared balconies their own. Note finishing details–they are rough but they stand the test of time. Century? Two centuries? Older?

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Not everyone keeps them in museum quality. It is expensive; and believe it or not, it is not in compliance with current energy standards. And how much to upgrade in order to meet those standards?

Short story about a strange…

…garden and its even stranger keepers…in Tangier.

The Story

Click the orange circle above to listen. This story is 30 minutes about Moroccan landscape, a strange garden, absinthe, chocolate and its plants.

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Date palms and mimosa in Morocco (Phoenix dactylifera and Acacia dealbata). Ever wonder about the magic of fragrance? Try mimosa, in its natural habitat, in the winter.

The Background

Anyone who has worked in a garden–suffered blisters and callouses in a garden for fruit, vegetables, flowers, medicine–knows there is something more in those gardens. This is for you.

Gardens? Chocolate? Yes, definitely…but I never thought to combine them until the email I received quite recently from an almost forgotten friend. Donkeys’ years ago when I was in Tangier, we worked together on the Baie de Tanger–it was a tourist destination development project.

Now, my friend’s still in Tangier, but as an antique dealer, using as an income cover, a store of second hand furniture. This story is a found antique.

In ‘Christopher and the Hibiscus House’, Christopher tells the story of a Tangier, Morocco garden. In order to visit the garden he was required by the garden’s keepers, a Brit and a Ruskie, to undergo a special ordeal of chocolate and absinthe before walking at sunset in the garden. Christopher first had to visit the land of the green fairies before he could enter their Oval Garden. This is that story.

Readers…by now you know that my blog, flahertylandscape, is all about plants and people–landscape journeys. Sounds fair and safe enough; but what I  share with you in the above story goes beyond ethnobotany, beyond strange.

 

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The Moroccan dream.

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

This is in part a freshly edited re-post of  a 2015 post I made, entitled Chocolate, Gardens and Magic, which, if I might say so, was a too long read; but it is fortunately well illustrated with Art Nouveau graphics.