Monthly Archives: September 2014

Landscape and Culture: Redefining the Urban Landscape – Single Use Corridors – Railroads

R x R below Division St. and 9th

R x R below Division St. and 7th

Landscape, is a human concept. It is more than simply a place, or the land that we occupy. Land becomes landscape when it passes through the lens of our eyes and we ascribe to it not only our own values and emotions, but also the value and emotions of the culture we share as members of this society. Just as we are shaped by the laws and culture of our society so to is the landscape. Without, sometimes, considerable conscious effort we cannot see the landscape free of this ‘cultural looking-glass’. As individuals I don’t think it’s ever possible to look at the landscape neutrally, though over time, our experiences can change us, and so, also, how we value and view the landscape. This is important if we ever want to change our relationship with the landscape we live in, if our role as an actor in the landscape is to change, if we are to, individually and collectively, become responsible stewards of the places within which we live…because it is one thing to say we are good stewards and something else entirely to actually be one.

People continue to be drawn here to the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. We all have our favorite places that hold us, and, unfortunately, over time, can come to sadden us as we see them degraded and homogenized by the momentum of our culture, the economic engine we all depend on, that is still systematically converting our landscape into one that can be found almost anywhere with the exception sometimes of a geography too expensive to alter. Even climate, we are beginning to realize, is within our ability to change, though we are finding, such changes are likely beyond our control. Continue reading

Photosynthesis Types: C3, C4 and CAM a simple overview

If you’re curious I found a relatively simple, not too technical, overview on-line titled: 

Photosynthesis – An Overview

There are 3 basic types of photosynthesis:  C3, C4, and CAM.  Each has advantages and disadvantages for plants living in different habitats.

Check it out at:

The bulk of plant species, around 90%, utilize C3, while C4 plants comprise 3% (7,600) of all plant species, but account for 30% of terrestrial carbon fixation.  46% of the Grass Family are C4s, including Corn, Sugar Cane, Millet and Sorgum.  They make up 61% of all C4 plants.  Most C4s are monocots, obviously.  Among the dicots are many species from the Aster, Brassica, Amaranth and Euphorbia families.

C4 plants have a competitive advantage over C3 plants when grown under higher temperature conditions, 30+ C (C4 plants are concentrated in the tropics and sub-tropics where temps are higher), with lower available nitrogen and drought.  With moderate temperatures, available N and water, C3 has the advantage.  CAM have the greatest advantage under desert conditions.

Among other things scientists are trying to engineer Rice, a C3 plant, into a C4 plant, increasing yields and lowering their water requirements for growth.  Rice is the most commonly consumed food plant in the world.

Crassulacean Miracles

Some of my CAM plants: back, Agave colorata, A. americana Medio-Picta; middle, Hechtia 'Texas Red' w/ Sedum 'Anglina', Agave gentryi 'Jaws', Puya venusta, Aloe (?); front, Puya chiliense, Dyckia 'Big Red', Senecio mandraliscae and Agave parryi 'Cream Sickle'

Some of my CAM plants: back, Agave colorata, A. americana Medio-Picta; middle, Hechtia texensis’ Big Red’ w/ Sedum ‘Angelina’, Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’, Puya venusta, Aloe (?); front, Puya chiliensis, Dyckia ‘Red Devil’, Senecio mandraliscae and Agave parryi ‘Cream Spike’

Plants for me are little windows into the working of the world. Beautiful, exotic, grand or seemingly simplistic, perfectly attuned to their place. We are simple animals ourselves our attentions grabbed and later lost by what shimmers and glitters in our minds for a moment. We look, but only partially see. Each plant is an opportunity, maybe a lesson and later forgotten by most of us, unaware that there is anything there to learn beyond our initial attraction to the physical plant itself. The unrolling of a leaf of Liriodendron, like a flag, happening 10 thousand times on one tree, each year across the span of its years, for generations for millions of years. The perfectly memorized pattern of the single enormous leaf of an Amorphophallus as it stretches up out of its corm, fully formed, each leaflet revealed as a piece, entire, not expanding through a growing tip, adding tissue, but revealing itself wholly if we watch. Each plant a miracle to all but the blind.

I was reading an article on UBC’s botany photo of the day site, on Crassula ovata (Jade Plant). It is one of the most common of the Crassula species in South Africa growing on sandy loam soils, with around 12”-18” of rain as part of what some call the ‘Albany Thicket’. Continue reading

Dispatches from Bend, OR

I’m over here in Bend for the Labor Day weekend doing family stuff, visiting my dad and Julie’s parents…dealing.  I worked my way through the first draft of an article/posting on everyone’s favorite Manzanita, isn’t it, Arctostaphylos patula, with a sustainable landscape spin.  I met two old friends at the 6th Annual Little Woody, a celebration of beers aged in barrels, mostly bourbon or wine, 24 breweries with 40 decisions to make.  Needless to say they got easier as we worked our way around.  If you’re a beer snob and like to wow your friends with talk of original and final gravity, A.B.V. and what the right balance of I.B.U.s might be, this is for you.  It’s still a modest sized crowd that attends.  Don’t expect pints, just good beer, with a twist and extra ooomph!

Today, though I’m between things and went for a walk with plants in mind, Arctostaphylos foremost, and set out to look a little closer at some of Bend’s more public ‘scapes, in their roadways not their Parks.  Bend is known for its ubiquitous and proliferating traffic circles so I checked this one out on SW 14th, on Bend’s westside.  They are all planted from a native palette.  A couple of bronze deer were curious what I was doing.  The light was glaring and my pictures less than I had hoped.

After that I was cutting through some commercial spaces on my way to check out Bend’s newest booze joint, Back Drop Distilling, it’s sharing space with Good Life Brewing, but the sign says they won’t be open until sometime later this fall, when I saw these Rhamnus frangula ‘Asplenifolia’ at a little US Bank branch office.   Continue reading