Winter colors

…mountain, sky, forest and lake…

Gray sky? Yes.

White snow? Yes.

But the color of the lake? Look carefully and compare with the summer photo taken at the same time of day of the same mountain.

How cold is the ‘winter blue’ of the lake?
How warm and rich the mountain, sky and forest colors? And the lake, how to describe the color? Refreshing.

The above landscapes provide me daily inspirations to write about the landscape architecture past times of Christopher Janus, known to his friends as CJ, and his landscape encounters in Tangier Gardens. Please visit my Tangier Gardens landing page to sign up for launch discounts and more info on CJ’s north west Africa landscape searches for portals.

***As of NOV2021***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.

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.

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.

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.

Dancing

What is a nature prescription? Why do you need it? Political or health albatross around your neck? A walk out past the edge of town?…just like Dancing in the Moonlight. Take a break.

Should your ‘nature prescription’ be more like taking aspirin or Dancing in the Moonlight? Take a walk in a place like this–that’s a nature prescription. Aspirin? Dancing in the Moonlight? It’s both and more. You’ve got to go beyond the edge of town or village–outside that downtown buzz–and breathe deeply–let your walls down–open all your senses. And the portals will open.

What’s missing here?

How can I get free of this stinking political and health fear-stuffed albatross?

Suppose this page is about you…and suppose you are wound up tighter than a drum by the tension of world wide and local politics and health. This page is your wayfinder.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BLOG AND ALL MY WRITING is to assist you the visitor to begin taking steps along a path toward discovering the regenerative existential cures to be freely found in plants, gardens and the landscape.

THE FIRST STEP is what could be called ‘nature prescriptions’–calibrated doses of time outside. Take a walk. But does the walk heal? What actually happens?  What is on the path that takes you on a journey? Where do landscape journeys take you?

And why even take that path and that journey?

A walk, a journey just for the landscape?–heh, I know what you are thinking–we all know what landscape is, right? Same old, same old, right?

flahertylandscape contends it is more–consider this:

The landscape can be a private cocoon to rest the restless.

On the walk you may weave dreams full of surprise and delight yielding true moments of repose.

It can be a journey to unwind, to regenerate, to reconnect with inner peace, to nest away from the daily hustle and bustle.

What’s missing from this photo? If you want to take that first regenerative walk on a landscape journey, here is what should be missing. Mobile, and any digital intrusion, mechanical noise from the city, from autos, any miscellaneous connectivity kit–that’s right don’t bring modern noise with you. Missing out all th is an essential part of your nature prescription.

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.

Up the valley

I am a naive midwestern American kind of guy–born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland–not really urban, not really rural. Farming has always been a mystery to this outsider. 

I had a view the other morning across the Brienzersee (+/-564meters above sea level). I could see that it was the time that farmers were making the first cut of pasture hay. Notice the yellow and brown patches which have just been cut . Adjacent to the yellow and brown are fully green pastures that have not been cut. Better seen in the following enlargements.
Note the fields just above the village. This is a mountain lake–the lake is a valley floor. The valley feels like an open bowl.
Hay pastures in the Berner Oberland Jungfrau Region of the Swiss Alps in late spring.
So, in the valley across the way, at about 560 meters above sea level, the first seasonal cutting of the pasture hay has begun.

Everything I encounter in this agricultural mountain landscape…naively captivates me.

Around my own home the first haycuts are already underway–there is the fragrance of a freshly cut lawn–we all have that familiar smell but the smell of freshly cut pasture hay? We had a couple good rains in May–all pastures were rich with grasses and wild flowers–the wild flowers went to seed first then the grasses–and as the grasses were going to seed in the first days of June we had a spell of sunny warm weather.

All the farmers down here at the valley bottom were out cutting their pastures. Fragrance at daytime and night time. They let the cut hay dry in the open fields for a couple days before binding it for later use as feed.

Before the cut.
The cut.
Cut and drying.
Bailed.

What does that have to do with ‘Up the valley’?

Well, everything in my topographical homeland was flat. Topography and its impact on life in the mountain landscape intrigues me. So, I took a walk up the valley–up the Lutschine River valley to a village named Gundlischwand (+/- 660 meters above sea level). That means uphill 100 meters–doesn’t sound like much does it? Couldn’t be further–amazing walk–here’s what happened. The valley changed. The topography changed. The plants changed.

The valley narrows. The mountains steepen. The walk not too strenuous at all–suitable for a suburban midwest American like me.
I love seeing how trees can make their home on the steepest of cliffs and the narrowest of flat ledges. They know how to adapt. Adapt.

I was going back in time.

In the mountains spring comes first at the low valley elevations. Then by the time spring comes to the higher elevations it is normally not days but weeks later. 

So when I walked up the valley I was walking back in time. Climatically speaking.

The price of admission?

A stuffy nose, a couple sneezes and a runny nose–all in sequence.

It took me 1/2 hour to walk the next 100 meters.

This is the edge of pasture some time before the haycut. 100 meters above where the haycut is occurring.
The wild flowers beckoned me.
Wild flowers well ahead of the grasses. Seed time not yet.
I was on a journey.
Finally, I arrived at Gundlischwand.
A village in an agricultural landscape in the mountains–mountains? Jungfrau Region, Berner Oberland, Swiss Alps.
Apple and walnut trees always close to the doorstep and kitchen.
Not far from the edge of town…a footpath into the dark forest…

But that will be a journey for another day.