And coming next week Vella.02. A NEW Vella story = North or northwest?
What is it?
Majoring in Landscape Architecture, CJ is in Tangier on a term abroad design study. The visit occurs at the turn of the 21st century, barely before the 9/11 disaster.
The landscape had always been CJ’s muse. But in Morocco, he did battle with it. He was confused by it. He tried to understand it. Its Oriental roots ran deep across the entirety of north Africa.
But he discovered that the Moroccan landscape had equally strong roots deep into the dark heartland of west Africa. In Morocco. In the coming Vella, CJ recounts some of his northwest Africa explorations.
Everybody wants it; but can health, good health be seen?
I’m not talking about humans.
This is about plants. And it is not a discussion about the definition of beauty or the definition of good health.
It is rather about what our eyes can observe. See a beautiful plant. See a beautiful flower. We are accustomed to those.
But something happened to me the other day on a walk. Our local weather has been good: sunshine, warmth and deep gentle rains. Locally, one finds in many home gardens well maintained topsoil–mulched with animal manures and dug in every year.
What does that mean? Healthy plant growth. And even with very common plants, their health shines. It captured my attention recently. My photo shows that. I hope you can see it.
Unusual perceptions of plants and their flowers? That is what CJ experienced for the first time in my book, Tangier Gardens. If you like plants and their flowers you will like CJ’s story.
A mountain treeline certainly is not a line in the common sense. The treeline is defined as the high elevation, climate driven limit of tree growth.
The treeline is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. It is found at high elevations. Beyond the treeline, trees cannot tolerate the environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures, extreme snowpack, or associated lack of available moisture).
It is easy to get into the weeds discussing the geographical, botanical and topographical details of a treeline. Just look at the images above for a general idea and the graphic below for a summary.
But where does the mirror fit in?
A treeline is natural. It tells about interactions between ecotypes. And that makes me think. Is the treeline a vector or raster? Is it a thin line, a narrow path one pixel wide or is it a broad and wide line with varying gradients, blurs and opacities?
I think the latter. And looking in the mirror at treelines, I wonder…are human cultures like environmental ecotypes? Are they definable on their edges by lines? Raster or vector? Is diversity our strength…or our weakness…or is the effort to define cultural differences a non-sequitur?
I don’t go out looking for trees–but when I’m out sometimes they call me.
This year the Tilia trees’ blossoms came earlier than normal. It was my olfactory pleasure. I could not say no. The fragrance captured me. It made me smile.
An online search of Tilia spp., their floral fragrance and their teas can keep you busy a whole day. Bottom line? Tilia fragrance and perfumes, Tilia fragrance and teas…a deep and mystical appreciation by all involved. No one can describe with absolute certainty what is the amazing fragrance. So, I’ll tell a personal story.
There is a time after the glorious spring greens that a summer tedium green takes over all deciduous trees. Tedium green? That’s the summer green that makes all deciduous trees look the same. They all fade into a dark green, amorphic background.
This morning it began. Mature foliage on all deciduous trees had grown full size and darkened. It was working–each leaf a mini-plant-factory taking in the glorious sunshine and the CO2 to assure their health and ours.
Here is what I found in town. Unannounced, the nearest Tilia tree–its fragrance descended upon me. The tree was already a physical landmark. I realized it was also a sociological landmark, a local center for relaxation–soothing away anxieties. Its fragrance does that.
In other parts of town, people were climbing into the lower Tilia branches where they collected flowers. They took them home for drying to produce homemade herb tea known for its calming pleasure.
Look for your closest Tilia or lime or linden.
When CJ went to study local landmarks in the Moroccan towns (medinas), he learned things about landscapes and gardens they didn’t teach at university. Check out Tangier Gardens for a good read.
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.