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.

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

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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.

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.

Fall2020

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?