Lilac Sunday

Lilacs. Syringa species.

A long time ago–an embarassing number of years–more than you need to know, I worked at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston in the United States. Their specialization was woody plants. 

They have four hundred named cultivars, varieties and species of lilac (Syringa). Each spring they have a massive public event that huge crowds attend–Lilac Sunday. The event timing varied as climate related events do. Early warm spring meant early lilacs could be mid-late April. Cold and a late spring meant late lilacs could be mid May.

So we watched carefully each year to determine accurately when would Lilac Sunday be.

All that crossed my mind as I was looking and enjoying lilac fragrance everywhere in my home town today. So if I was to call Lilac Sunday, I’d call it this week–Mother’s Day in the USA. 

And the climate? A normal average year.

Go out and find a lilac. Enjoy the blooms and their fragrance. They go by rather quickly as May warms the earth.

For a virtual visit to the lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum, there is a 3 minute video at this link here (Mask not required).

The advertisement for this year’s Lilac Sunday celebration is here.

If you are really into the beauty and fragrance of flowers, please join my email list to get updates on the discoveries of my protagonist, Christopher Janus (CJ) and his discoveries in the landscape, especially the plant world.

Just Published again? No, this time it’s spring

Spring has been marching in–absolutely glorious!!

It dances. It sings.

The beauty of spring’s music hypnotises.

Don’t want it to ever finish–but it does.

And the magic is that it returns a year later. The more I think about that coming and going of beauty over time–the more I am inspired to write.

The first book I have written on the beauty of plants and the passage of time is Tangier Gardens.

Today is the last day that Tangier Gardens eBook can be picked up for FREE.

Tangier Gardens?

Original 17th century Wenceslaus Hollar view of Tangier harbour post-processed by flahertylandscape.

CJ was coming of age and he was lost. He had wanted to get absorbed in a different culture. The labyrinth had captured him. In his despair he turned to his oldest friend, a girl with whom he had been growing for the past six years. And she became his strength. Though separated from CJ by thousands of miles, she lit his path to clarity.

Tangier Gardens. Launching March 2022. Notification of details and discounts here.

Sun and sand: MOROCCO

CJ had visited Morocco once before. A long time ago . He was with his Mom. And he was only six. They spent three months on the beaches of Essaouira; but they never visited Tangier.

Now 20 years later he was on his way to Tangier. He thought he knew Morocco.

flahertylandscape is the root of Tangier Gardens.
Sun and Sand Morocco is a trailer that recalls CJ’s memories and some of his uncertainties.

Want more? Visit my Tangier Gardens Amazon author page.

CJ needs help

PLANT PORTALS

***PLEASE NOTE***FLAHERTYLANDSCAPE HAS MOVED ITS URL TO A NEW DOMAIN–https://flahertylandscape.com CONTENT THE SAME ONLY A NEW URL. PLEASE CLICK THAT LINK.

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.

Chocolate Gardens

KingdomMorocco1of6

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

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 am about to share with you goes beyond strange.

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.

A short while ago, I prepared to record the revised draft of one of my novels to perform a sentence by sentence development edit. To my surprise, as I set up a folder for the audio, I found an old 30minute .aif file entitled Chocolate Gardens.

The Chocolate Gardens tells the story of a Tangier, Morocco garden, as recorded by Christopher (CJ) two decades ago. In order to visit the garden he was required by the garden’s owners, a Brit and a Ruskie, to undergo a special ordeal of chocolate and absinthe before walking at sunset in the garden. CJ first had to visit the land of the green fairies before he could enter their Oval Garden. This is that story.

I have attached a link to a 30 min. SoundCloud file that tells that story from the early days, back when I was developing the beta version. I am moving this story forward as Tangier Gardens–out of the classroom into real life…via plant portals. Click on the SoundCloud link immediately below and listen to Christopher tell his story.

Tangier medina portal

…but the deeper Christopher (CJ) digs into Tangier, the stranger it becomes. He can’t tell one portal from another. Entangled almost beyond hope, he walks the Oval Garden at the Hibiscus House. His way out…his way home?

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 well illustrated with Art Nouveau graphics. There you can read Christopher’s Tangier garden story–his journey in search of portals.

Seasons change…and so do I

I am embedded in a landscape that has moved from spring into the definites of summer. The basics and the speed of spring growth have finished. For some, the hazy sameness of summer signals the onset of boredom.

Nope, not for me.

Clouds change like the seasons, too slowly to easily see.

Clouds? Where?
Because cloud speed is so slow, people use time lapse to see their beauty, their magical forming and reforming. But–science aside, gaia aside–where do they come from? How do mists turn into clouds? And the mists–here they are…here they aren’t.

And that is how the flahertylandscape blog is changing–slowly.

I set up this web site to talk about the landscape. Since 2013, most of the posts encourage the reader to interact with the landscape, its gardens and plants.

This blog also includes a section on landscape architecture, my profession.

And I have also included a section entitled landscape stories

I wanted to write landscape stories spurred by my own career in landscape architecture to give to students some insights into what they might find in their careers. 

Goes back to my university education where I found the most interesting and valuable courses to be a series of 2 week summer courses taught by private sector landscape architects. Why? Real world projects had a resonance that was absent from typical class room assignments.

Situations in post graduation offices taught lessons never addressed at university. 

So I wanted to provide that resonance and reality for students still in university. You might ask, why don’t you teach? My response? Teach?!! Different animal–designing and getting a project built–that’s what I can share…and then there is the small item of my stroke four years ago. Isolated now. Don’t do crowds well. Don’t multi-task. Don’t do tit for tat speed–so I write.

Now I am getting to my seasons change title.

I will be gradually modifying this blog as I get closer to the ARC of my debut novel, Tangier Gardens, the first in the series, The Landscape Architect–fictional autobiographical stories that track the strange twists and turns in the life of a landscape architect who is committed to professional career practice. ARC? Advance Review Copy–working on this now.

Over the next six months, I will track the ARC, the pre-publication and the launch. All will happen and be accommodated on this blog.

But I also have a presence on YouTube which features the many years I lived and worked in the Arabian Peninsula. It has been years since I dug into the Empty Quarter–that place in SW Asia around which a lot of my professional career as a landscape architect revolved. You wonder about that landscape? Here is a taste. Follow the links embedded in each photo.

Dates mean water and life. A chance for existence in the Empty ‘of life’ Quarter.
In the life cycle of dates, beauty can be found in many seasons in many ways.

Wilderswil

Part of what keeps me going into the landscape every day is how the people in the local towns and in their agriculture integrate at the smallest scale into the larger landscape. Wilderswil is an excellent example.

From my place I took two busses and in 10 minutes I was in Wilderswil Dorf–the center of the village.

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The Bears Hotel in the center of Wilderswil–this is downtown in the village. 2,700 people live in Wilderswil which is part of the Interlaken agglomeration(24,000 pop.).

After 5 more minutes walk I was at the edge of the village on a pedestrian path known in the local dialect as a wanderweg–a way for wandering through the landscape–journeys to the unknown.

ForestJourney

Wandering along a wanderweg.

After 15 minutes in thick mixed forest, a view of the larger landscape opened before me.

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The small scale agriculture sits at the base of steep forested mountains.

SmallScalein the Mountains

The valley floor is pasture for smaller agricultural holdings. The forest begins where the slope becomes too steep for pasture.

The small scale agriculture comes right to the edge of town.

Edge of Town

This is the kind of diversity that comes from hard work and returns healthy people.

The town people use every imaginable way to bring practical plants, gardens and small scale agriculture right to their doorstep.

Integrating

These are typical throughout the village–the owners encourage nature right up to their front door.

This last black and white photo, taken in 1952, shows Wilderswil at the mouth of the Saxeten Valley and river. This valley, while never gaining the reputation of the Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald Valleys, has undeniable drama and magnificent landscape setting. These are the Berner Oberland.

1952

By Werner Friedli – This image is from the collection of the ETH-Bibliothek and has been published on Wikimedia Commons as part of a cooperation with Wikimedia CH. Corrections and additional information are welcome., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59858775