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.
Becoming a landscape architect is like walking an unknown path in a strange forest.
You know someone has walked it before, so you have some confidence. Then the path disappears. You have to make your own path and you don’t really know where you are going.
You must decide—forge ahead or go back.
Universities try to prepare you with programs, such as term abroad plus help through internships and mentoring… but in the end you must confront the unknown and make your own path.
That is what Christopher Janus, CJ, does in Tangier Gardens. He finds himself in unknown circumstances surrounded by botanists, horticulturists all in a fog of foreign culture. He has to define landscape, landscape architecture, gardens and his own career path. It is a path into the unknown.
Don’t we all need a pleasant surprise? I was given one that I’d like to share with anyone who derives pleasure from the landscape.
Watching the sky in mountainous landscapes in my neighborhood, I am always struggling with clouds or fog. At what point does fog become a cloud? And do clouds ever become fog?
How can I even ask these questions?
Because in steep mountainous terrain along a river valley whose source, not far away, is in the above tree line, high mountain pass glaciers, I regularly see the life cycle of clouds–the speed of cloud formation and dissolution.
And that for me is excitement.
Why? Because the speed of cloud is slower than human patience of vision.
How often can we look at a cloud long enough to see its swirling edges grow or decline–and then until the cloud disappears or generates from nothing to a huge presence.
Today, 31Dec2021, I had an unexpected present handed to me by the local mountain landscape.
I saw for the very first time–what I could for certainty define–ground fog. It began last night at sunset. Then in the middle of the night it grew while I slept. By morning, we were enveloped in it. It wasn’t deep but it was thick.
In the clear sky sunshine, I took a walk to explore how the ground fog moved (more of a slow-motion slither, an exhale, a flow) around the valley floor.
There is something special about seeing in real life, real time, the life cycle of clouds and in this case ground fog.
I go through the whole gaia thing and the science of temp/moisture/wind. But in the end, I am convinced there is some thing alive in this life cycle. Are the mountains breathing in and out? I don’t know. My weak speculation is ignorant at best. But I feel what I feel. All I can do is write about what goes on in the landscape. It is all around each and every one of us. And it is mysterious…arcane.
I wrote previously about winter colors, snow line and black and white.
The most attractive black and white in our landscape is the magpie, the Eurasian magpie, Pica pica. They have an large, active nest nearby in the top of a huge linden tree, Tilia cordata. When the first winter snowfall arrived the nest got so snowed in…it was no longer visible, neither were the magpies.