Wednesday, October 26, 2016

More designs in Nature translate into awesome Urban Landscapes thru Biomimicry

Most of my inspiration when I designed layouts for landscaping came from natural scenarios I observed in Nature. For example, this picture below from Baja California.
Image - Klaus Komoss

photo is mine (June 2016)
I've previously written about both the native Baja California and Sonora Mexico Rock Figs, Rock figs (tescalama): Ficus palmeri and Ficus petiolaris. We saw examples of Rock Figs at the Arizona-Sonoran Deset Museum which we visited this past June 2016. They make great patio trees in large pottery containers or planter focal points with boulders as a center piece. Mainly, when we create such landscape art, we are merely doing biomimicry of what already takes place in the wild. For example the massive wild Rock Fig above taken by Klaus Kommoss on one of his many winter adventure trips with his wife and friends down in Baja California. I'll post the link below to he and his wife's travel adventure blog and also my post link below of what I wrote about recreating these rock fig and boulder art images below. I also stumbled upon recently something else that has captured my attenton in the plant/rock art theme where I saw these incredible boulder plant creations where holes were drilled and hollowed out through  a fire process in the huge rock and trees planted in them at the Living Holocaust Memorial at the Jewish Heritage Museum.

Image - Cornell Plantations
"Boulders harvested for Andy Goldsworthy's Garden of Stones, Permanent installation, The Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York, New York These granite boulders and chestnut oak trees supplement the permanent installation in New York. They were installed at Cornell Plantations in 2004, and dedicated in 2005."

Image - Cornell Plantations

The first time I saw this planting design technique from the layout at the "Garden of Stones" display at the Living Memorial to the Holocaust, it made me think of potential for not only Desert Rock Figs, but also the major contribution potential of selected plants that the California Chaparral community could provide. California Oaks would be ideal like the example above, especially smaller scrub oaks. Manzanita would also be ideal. Can you just imagine. Really we've already seen such examples in the form of Bonsai plants created by rocky shallow soils of a California mountainside on a south facing slope. Boulders strewn hillsides themselves have already provided such blueprints for creative imaginations.

Image - Cornell Plantations

Image - Laura Allen in Modern Farmer
Many examples of chaparral bonsai exist in the mountains and foothills of San Diego County especially those rich in giant granite boulders. Mount Woodson near Ramona comes to minds as does the mountain passes along Interstate 8 in eastern San Diego county between Boulevard and Jacumba. Further north and east in Arizona in the Sedona red rock country, there are plenty of examples as evidenced by this photo on the right. Even further north up into the state of Utah and the Canyonlands would provide another excellent library for imaginative blueprints to any talented landscape designer. The point is, while we can admire the creativity of those who laid out the theme for the Holocaust Memorial, it must be acknowledged that such amazing designs are in fact existing somewhere out in Nature first. 

image from Goldsworthy "Garden of Stones"

So exactly how do these Landscape architects and construction planners do this ?
I'll provide a link to a gallery of photographs here below which will explain far more than I could even hope to do in text. But there are a few points where I will interject some personal thoughts and/or quotes from the "About the Process" page. Further on down I'll provide a couple of links on how the process works, but here are some planting examples. Interestingly their favourite plant specimens are dwarf type oaks like Quercus prinoides. For me I would choose both Emory Oak (Quercus emoryii) and/or  Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmannii). I love the overall sillhouette and branching form of both species of oak. The leaf patterns and the fact that both are a tough survivor species of oak. 

Image - Cornell Plantation

Image - Goldsworthy
The Oak saplings were grown at Cornell under the guidance of Professor Tom Whitlow from the Department of Horticulture. His tree species recommendation was the dwarf Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinoides) and he advised on the optimum conditions needed for growth and nourishment. The Oak & other saplings were nurtured at Cornell by both faculty and students. Often the actual planting was done by holocaust survivors themselves, their children or even grandchildren. The point of all this of course is that humans can move away from the formal structural traditions of the English Garden design, etc and develop purely naturalistic scenes within their personal urban or commercial landscapes.
How the actual Stone Hollowing Process works
Andy Goldsworthy's Stone Hollowing Process
About the Company and Artists who created these landscape boulder planters
Image - Richard Avedon
Edward Monti and artist Andy Goldsworthy are pictured with one of the granite sculptures (in its early stages) that make up the Garden of Stones installation at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. 
ABOUT EDWARD MONTI The History of Edward Monti Stone Sculpture
About the couple who took the photograph at the top of this post and their Adventures in Baja California

The photo on the right and at the top of this post was taken by Klaus Kommoss with his wife, Parvin, on one of their adventures every Winter to Baja California. I'll post their blog link down below at the bottom of this paragraph. Klaus was from Germany and his wife Parvin was from Iran. They lived in the state of Wshington in the Pacific Northwest. An unfortunate accident took place in 2012 where Klaus died in a freak accident when the SUV he was working on fell off the scissor jacks. I stumbled by accident upon their blog back in August while looking up information on Rock Figs of Baja California. Read and loved his blog, but then later found out the sad news. Still, they had some great adventures to places most of us only imagine seeing one day. I think you'll enjoy reading their blog adventures from the link below.
Photographs & Adventure Blog References
Man crushed to death by SUV was inventor, adventurer
Creating Little Desert Trees as Ornamentals for Indoors & Patios
Now for a fun tutorial on how Phenotypic Plasticity works on all biological organisms, but especially here with our subject of PLANTS

Genotype-Environment Interaction and Phenotypic Plasticity

Here is an awesome video explaining things in simple terms and with illustrations from familiar situations that teach. So can you understand and graps the concept of biomimicry in developing plants within an urban landscape to replication patterns and forms found in Nature ??? The video is from and is about 7:00 minutes long. But as you watch this, please think about how you can experiment and tinker with various physical environmental factors and recreate natural designs in your backyard or where ever. Keep in mind that this video deals with the science of both genotypic and phenotypic change, and this can be repeatable if we can set up just the right artifical environmental factors in our landscape. And still somewhere there is the role of something called epigenetics in shaping the patterns of your plant subjects. But that's another subject.
Real Life "Garden's of Stone" you can visit out in Nature

Photographer - Phil Douglis - Apache Stronghold

Image -
This place is Apache Stronghold, otherwise known as Chiricahua National Monument. When you visit, you can understand how tough it was for the US Cavalry to evict the resilient Chiricahua Apache. I've been to this place and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made as far as an adventure. Believe it or not it was the unique plant and animal (Parrot & Koatimundi) life that brought me here in the beginning, apart from the outstanding ancient volcanic geological formations. This is one of those classic Arizona "Sky Islands" as you can see from the top photo which looks down at the lower surrounding elevation. But the main draw for me was the Arizona Madrone, Chiricahua & Apache Pines, Alligator Juniper and some of the most humungous examples of Arizona Cypress I've ever seen. Again, it's the various features of rock (niches, slots, etc) which provide a phenotypic paradise for unique plant form and natural design.

Image - NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
This is Gardens of Stone National Park in Australia. The landscape here is a labyrinth of pagoda rocks with beehive-shaped formations sculpted by erosion along sandstone scarpments. This type of geological landscape not only presents a treacherous and challenging obstacle of slot canyons for both hikers and expert canyoneer exploreers, but it also provides an outdoor educational lab for those who choose to view this as a learning journey into how the environments (all of it's components) sculpts biological life (in this case plant life) into various beautiful and intriguing forms. All of which can and should be replicated into the modern urban landscape.

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