Eryngium alpinum—the queens in our Alpine neighborhood.
Tag Archives: plants
Finally, I escaped…
…escaped from that procrastination flu, you know the illness…
got too much to do today, I’ll take a walk tomorrow,
besides it’s only the first week of autumn.
I escaped yesterday…
What might you find inside? Only you can know. 🙂
But fear not. Just start walking.
The history of the Interlaken landscape before river channel control was one of a swamp as the Lutschine and Lombach emptied huge Alpine catchments into this flat land adjacent to the Aare River.
Up the valleys Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Saxeten and Lombach where swampiness was not a problem, people have for centuries managed arable land to support their families. Particularly in the Grindelwald area, there are seven centuries of written records documenting how they managed the landscape.
So this region has a tradition of agriculture, crop and animal management in family scale over the lands from Alpine heights to valley floors. The following series of images show how the Interlaken neighborhoods now follow that same tradition of small land management and family food gardens today.
Interlaken: design & tourism
At the heart of a tremendous landscape. Interlaken.
In the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, Interlaken is a 365day/year resort destination on the Aare River connecting two lakes at the confluence of four valleys.
Interlaken alone has more than 900,000 overnight stays/year. Tourism drives the economy. Landscape drives the tourism.
This place is all about design, why? Because this landscape exudes inspiration, it enables captivation. A guest can see it, breathe it, feel it, taste it and touch it. Landscape feeds design.
But change is inevitable. New design is required.
What is the inspirational magic that fills the air in this landscape? For two hundred years the greatest authors, composers and all humans have been captivated by this ethereal landscape beauty which has propelled them to design, compose, write, paint.
Great American writers have built on their experience in this landscape: Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper. And a partial list overwhelms: Haller, Rousseau, Goethe,(as inspired by the Staubbach in Lauterbrunnental), Byron, Mendelssohn, Schiller, AC. Doyle, Tolkien, Bierstadt, Caspar Wolf, Hodler, Calame, and pop ‘artists’ like James Bond, Clint Eastwood.
In the last century the Art Nouveau movement spurred deluxe hotel and town growth here.
The most practical and interconnected transportation and communication systems were overlain for easy access. Best in class convenience from the international airports of Zurich, Geneva and Bern via network of trains, trams and busses seamlessly linked to networks of bikes and pedestrians to all winter and summer recreation options including every xxx-treme sport. These put visiting humans into direct touch with the landscape.
Interwoven in all the above is the art of living in these inspirational landscapes. People who live here have translated their inspiration to trychler, yodeler, alphorn, sagen and scherrenschnitt.
Visitors gain access via Interlaken to sites having the UNESCO ‘international seal of approval’:
UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch: An area of 400 square kilometres to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature unfolds as a mystical world with pre-Alpine moorland and karst landscapes.
UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau Aletsch: An overwhelming display of the Alps’ natural beauty covering over 800 square kilometres. At its heart lies the mighty rock massif of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and the glacial landscape around the Great Aletsch Glacier. The Aletsch Glacier is 23km long, the longest glacier in the Alps.
So what’s the problem? The hotel, resort destination cycle has been bottoming as the visitor profile has changed. Nobody has grasped what is the 21st century successful tourism paradigm. Four and five star hotels are out of business. Other hotels from the Art Noveau era can not easily meet the 21st century energy savings regulations. And the visitor who 30 years ago would visit one or two weeks, now visits two or three days.
Recent tourism numbers and trends intrigue.
Berner Oberland Region = 12,000 beds; net occupancy rate 50%
Interlaken Region = 4,000 beds; net occupancy rate 64%
International Arrivals = Europe 50%, Asia 25%, Americas 15%, Africa 5%, Middle East 5%
Interlaken Region Arrivals = Swiss 45%, International 55%
In conclusion, this Interlaken landscape region has undeniable attraction to Swiss and every geographical segment of international visitor. The annual visits are steady. The communication and transportation infrastructure is up to date and best in class; but the types of accommodations are not leading the way. The tradition of four and five star has all but disappeared–it struggles.
But there are committed private sector players whose future is based upon visitors’ feet on the landscape, regional transportation and watch consolidator. Both of them rely on successful, comfortable and convenient overnights.
Where does this landscape tourism go in the first half of the 21st century?
Airbnb, local holiday apartments, dormitory accomodations?
Are the traditional comforts of four and five star hospitality culture a memory, not suited to today’s green regulations, today’s pace of life, today’s constrained economics?
Or is there a new paradigm still undiscovered that matches and challenges this timeless inspirational landscape?
That is a question for designers, entrepreneurs and lovers of landscape.
Mirrors, look into yourself? Or, mirrors, look into the clear night sky?
I was looking into this African violet petal mirror and saw everything about the night sky that I could not understand…and…everything about myself I could not understand.
Before I collapsed from dizziness, I asked how can a plant do this?
…and today, I’m happy just to enjoy this flower’s beauty. Really, I’m just fine. 🙂
African integration, early adapters
African violets: Saintpaulia ionantha. Seem right at home in either the kitchen or the living room. 🙂
What are they and why clandestine—it is about service to plants, to gardens, to landscapes—it is about surrendering to the plants—listening, hearing…then letting time slip away…then being… with open channels…open ports of reception…then by miracle…portals become accessible.
Only you can do it.
It’s between you and the plants. Look at a favorite plant…listen and hear…let it enter…and serve it. Let quiet begin…there is something there if you are in receptive mode, rather than controlling mode.
The portal is always clandestine.
Sharon Liese directed and produced the above video, The Gnomist.
Made me think about plants, trees, forests, landscapes…and how human access to them can occur on so many levels–physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual–amazing.
Shouldn’t every city have these gnome ecosystems within a ten minute walk from everyone’s front door? Why not?
Dreams, aspirations…realities…take the journey.