…no political correctness…
…no social justice…
…no politics whatsoever.
This green graffiti is stone disrupted by plants.
My favorite. Tell me it isn’t beautiful.
Find yourself some.
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.
You might say that if you have never lived among steep mountains in a climate blessed with humidity and precipitation.
Let me get on with it.
On the ground it may as well be fog. Can’t see blue sky or sun. Can only see 50 meters in front of me. Definitely fog.
Or is it?
I live at 600meters above sea level in that fog.
For me the question of fog or clouds is one of the pleasant riddles of life. Hope you have found it the same.
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.
…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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But that will be a journey for another day.
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.
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.
After 15 minutes in thick mixed forest, a view of the larger landscape opened before me.
The small scale agriculture sits at the base of steep forested mountains.
The small scale agriculture comes right to the edge of town.
The town people use every imaginable way to bring practical plants, gardens and small scale agriculture right to their doorstep.
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.