…the last snow…

…pure white…

All white. Is it purity or are my eyes influenced by my hopes and dreams?

I almost missed…Spring: the last snow…

We all have been busy in the northern hemisphere as winter expired into spring–I too, have been busy–so much so that I almost missed that winter into spring transition–so here begins a series of transition images from these Alpine slopes that capture that transition.

…root heat…The roots are churning–heat is on the way. The surface above the roots is melted–but I don’t hear anything.

…too busy…almost missed Spring…1…next


…there is always heat…

Sometimes the white collar mercenaries wear blue collars.

Can it ever be so simple as good guys versus bad guys? Naw, they are all in the same game, workers or managers…they are all mercenaries–working for their families, working for themselves–all on contracts. All temporaries. All in the heart of the Empty Quarter. All with uncertainty, dead ahead.

…drink the green…

If you, the reader have been born in a temperate climate, you can not understand how beautiful this green is to the humans who live around the edges of the Empty Quarter. To slake that green thirst, millions upon millions of plants are being grown in the nurseries of the United Arab Emirates.

MIA made a break though with her music behind SlumDog Millionaire. She strips away all pretense and calls it like it is ‘…bonafide hustler…making my name…all I wanna do is…take your money.’ Erik Chalmers comes face to face with this when he visits the huge plant nursery supplying his project. And the nursery–it, too, is in the Empty Quarter.

Following is a short part from Chapter 8: The Nursery to impart some of the landscape feeling of The 23 Club.


The 23 Club

Immersed in the contemporary culture of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, against the backdrop of the Empty Quarter, The 23 Club tells the inside story of how an iconic project gets built in the oil rich, Gulf region of the Arabian Peninsula.

Table of Contents

  • Desertification
  • It’s 2AM
  • Spike Lounge
  • The Walk
  • Rub Al Khali Coastal
  • Rub Al Khali Inland
  • Liwa Qsar
  • The Nursery


Twenty five years ago in Southern California, nurseries like Monrovia, Keeline Wilcox and ValleyCrest had rows upon rows of trees, shrubs and ground covers, each properly pruned and grown to near perfection–seemingly unlimited quantities in any size you wanted. Selecting plants there was the same as going down the breakfast cereal aisle in a large American grocery store–huge selections, multiple sizes of each, in massive quantities. Just like cereal boxes, the plants in these nurseries were labelled, well displayed, properly set out and all uniformly healthy. That sophistication and mastery of horticultural and logistics processes integral to plant growth was a spectacular achievement that Chalmers had never fully appreciated–until he worked with the pirate landscape contractors of the Middle East.

In the Western Region of Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, a large new town was under construction and street trees were part of the infrastructure work. That was the first time Chalmers had seen on a competitively bid, huge project scale, plants being grown in the used empty tin cans, normally thrown out from labor camp kitchens. Always rusting, the cans were lucky to have drainage holes and they were always stacked cheek-by-jowl to save on land rental costs. Plants were hand watered seemingly by chance. And pruning equipment? Just never around.

The captain of these pirate landscape operations was invariably a French, Belgian or Afrikaner character, meanness carved all over his face–a Kepi blanc, a French Foreign Legion escapee at best or, at least suitable for a starring role in a Werner Herzog movie. Everyone who worked for the captain was a day laborer at the cheapest rate. If the day laborers would have come from farm backgrounds in Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka–eh, never such luck.

  • Finding Majlis
  • Library Majlis
  • Villa Majlis
  • Long and Short
  • Pilgrimage
  • Wanderweg
  • Appendix 1:  Berner Oberland Back Story
  • Author’s Notes
  • Plant List
  • Colophon


(to be continued)

© 2015 Edward Flaherty

**Blatant Plug: If you find this writing about humans and landscape intriguing, please share it with your like-minded friends. Thank you.**


Garden Design, Horticulture and Fog

Monochromatic: the transition from fall into winter has brought fog to the mountainsides and lakesides.  Only the foreground can be seen.

Monochromatic: the transition from fall into winter has brought fog to the mountainsides and lakesides. Only the foreground can be seen.

Fog in the literature of garden design and horticulture–I have always sought clarity in textbooks and popular writing from the fields of garden design and horticulture.

But unfortunately in both fields the more I read the more finely subdivided became the material of those fields–finer and finer until I became lost in a fog.

You may just write me off as another searching for the holy grail but…I have found lessons to be learned from the larger landscape that can inform those who try their hand at horticulture and garden design.

Fog is a monochromatic filter and winter is a gray scale reality.  Both lessen the detail and the variety our eyes have to interpret.

So in my garden design, I need only water, healthy soil, light, minerals, deciduous plants and evergreens.

Or is that just the folly of a desktop gardener?

Gray Scale: lessens the detail that our eyes have to interpret.

Gray Scale: lessens the detail that our eyes have to interpret.



Awkward Beauty: The 23 Club


I have updated a teaser to the landscape novella I have written, The 23 Club.  Please take a look at it and tell me if it is attractive.

Not sure?

Well, if you like landscapes, gardens, plants, international adventure, problem solving, a dose or two of emotional uncertainty, and a good smile every once in a while…you might just give this teaser a try.

A Funny Landscape Quiz

You know, sometimes we are just _so_ caught up in our worlds, especially for business…giggles, chuckles and laughs are needed…maybe in regular dosages!

I made up this seven question humorous Landscape Quiz.  Try it!


Gnomes, Chelsea 2013 or otherwise…

In 2013, the Royal Horticultural Society admitted Gnomes to the Chelsea Flower Show, but only by caveat that they be used to help grow funding to encourage younger people’s interest in horticulture.  This fit nicely into British tradition, well delineated by David Bowie’s 1967 single, The Laughing Gnome, available here on YouTube.

But the last word is, in a true Germanic sense, very serious, written by Franz Hartmann 1895, Among the Gnomes, An Occult Tale of Adventure in the Untersberg.  The Untersberg is a mountain on the border of Germany and Austria.  Within the Untersberg are unterwegs connecting…connecting to…Bonigen, Switzerland, where…






I discovered these fellows doing their duties.