Category Archives: Intervention

Failing Landscapes, Failing Practices: A Look at Tri-Met’s Landscapes and How We Could Do Them Better!

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I include this photo, taken beneath the west approaches to the Marquam Bridge, an ODoT property not Tri-Met, as a reference for what is commonly found in transportation rights-of-way. This is not a problem solely with Tri-Met’s landscapes. It crosses the southern end of South Waterfront Park which was one of my responsibilities for 15 years and so I’m familiar with its level of care or lack thereof. The nearest portion, to just beyond the nearest piers, was entirely neglected for the entire period except for where I cut it down to reduce the amount of weed seed I had to deal with in the Park. There is literally nothing that was intentionally planted in the entire space. It is a landscape composed entirely of weeds and it is possible because landscapes for ODoT are of an extremely low priority. It is the neighboring properties that bear the brunt of their decision. It will be interesting to see if they come under increasing pressure over the years as the expensive and undeveloped properties to their south are developed. Currently the Knight Cancer Institute is developing a hundred yards or more away. The Marriot Residence Inn, immediately to its north, has had no effect on its level of care.

About a year ago I posted a series of three articles on Tri-Met’s landscapes along the new Orange Line.  They were a critical assessment of their design with many photos and explanations for my criticisms.  I had a brief correspondence with the project manager after the first two before he stopped responding.  I had asked about the maintenance schedule that they had with the contractor who would be doing the work.  I did not receive it.  Part of the reason was mine, as new ideas came up for me, my interest wavered and I moved on.  Still, I’ve never received anything.  Now, a year later, I decided to reassess the first portion of the landscape that  I wrote about, as it is a section I regularly walk and ride by bike to downtown or to just get out.  I would encourage readers to see my previously posted reviews. Continue reading

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Adaptive Management and the Dynamic Maintenance of Sustainable Landscapes

 

The second grassy bay, below the Harborside Restaurant, between the Taxodium clumps from the south end. A sweep of Cistus pulverulentus 'Sunset' at the bottom, Ceanothus cuneatus 'Blue Sierra' at the left and two Arctostaphylos x 'Harmony'. The grasses are Kohleria macrantha, native, Festuca rubra commutatta and a few nasty invaders.

The second grassy bay from the south end, below the Harborside Restaurant at Riverplace, above the marina, between the Taxodium clumps. The ’04 planting included no shrubs or perennial forbs in this area.  It was a monoculture of Koeleria macrantha, a native early season bunch grass that goes dormant by mid-July leaving the entire area vulnerable to invasion by weeds and offering no ‘barrier’ to either people or dogs, which enter frequently. A sweep of Cistus pulverulentus ‘Sunset’ at the bottom, Ceanothus cuneatus ‘Blue Sierra’ at the left and Arctostaphylos x ‘Harmony’ have been added to this site along with Festuca rubra var. commutata a low, fine textured spreader to help fill in the spaces and scattered native perennials.

We, all of us, are part of the landscape.  Just as individual plants belong to a local native plant community, and its place, so do we. That we live in highly disturbed and contrived landscapes does not change the fact that we live in relationship with it, that we are a functioning part of it. Deny this as we may, many of us as a group likely admit to very little connection to our ‘place’. It’s just where we live, for now. Our understanding of it and any involvement with our landscape, other than as a simple stage for our lives, is minimal, a condition which has become pervasive in modern society. Some professionals, who work with children have come to refer to this state as NDD, or Nature Deficit Disorder, a dissociative relationship now that was once basic to human survival. Today this condition is pervasive and our landscapes, as a result, severely disturbed, damaged and compromised, lack the capacity to return to their former state. There is a general ignorance amongst the public and our leaders of the severity of the problem and our necessary role and responsibility to correct it.  We are locked into a strategy that views landscape as incidental, the natural world as backdrop for our activities, not central to our well-being.  Today landscapes, as long as they meet our grossly simplified idea of our needs, a modern minimalist aesthetic, that does not over tax our ‘pocketbook’, are forgettable. From a horticultural viewpoint this is becoming an increasingly deteriorating disaster, something that not only we can do something about, but one that is imperative that we do so.  Adaptive Management describes a responsive relationship between people and the place in which they live. It is centered on a positive and workable strategy we can adopt that addresses this situation and turns it around, reengaging us with our landscape. Continue reading