Category Archives: Prescription

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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On Healing the ‘Broken’ Urban Landscape: Portland’s Holgate Overpass & the Brooklyn Yards

This is the section south and adjacent to the west approach. It was rough mown in early June down slope to the Blackberries and east to the Box Elder in the background.  You can see the blue flowers of the Chickory.

This is the section south and adjacent to the west approach. It was rough mown in early June down slope to the Blackberries and east to the Box Elder in the background. You can see the blue flowers of the Chickory and the Fennel.

Walking the Holgate overpass across the Brooklyn Switching Yard, with its adjacent container operation, is anything but pleasant. Trucks, trains, blasting horns and the four lanes of traffic whizzing by next to the 5′ wide sidewalks wipe away the positives of the views across the river and to downtown.  Most people probably don’t think of places like this as ‘landscapes’, but in the broader sense they are. Landscapes, most simply, are the places that we occupy, whether they are artfully designed, narrowly utilitarian, neglected, forgotten or simply dismissed. They become ‘landscapes’ through our occupying them or merely perceiving them. They are places we are in relationship with. Holgate is a traffic corridor for automobiles. Here is where it crosses the north south railroad line and the region’s major container handling yard. Car and truck traffic are heavy, at times, nearly non-stop. This is the only east-west route between Powell Blvd. and Bybee, and Bybee is intended for, and used by, more local traffic. It is loud. Traffic typically is moving a 35-45 mph although it’s posted 30.  The sidewalk is relatively narrow and this zone of unpleasantness is over a third of a mile long, an expanse from which there is no ‘escape’ for the pedestrian beyond enduring it. Since I retired, and weather permitting, I walk it once or twice a week on my way to the gym for a swim. Continue reading

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, 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.

Part of the Over Thinking Series

We, all of us, are part of the urban landscape.  The lack of connection, understanding of and regular involvement with our landscape, a condition which has become pervasive in modern society, sometimes referred to as NDD, or Nature Deficit Disorder, has brought us to the rather precarious place we are today, with the rapidly declining state of our landscapes and a general ignorance amongst the public and our leaders of the severity of the problem and our responsibility to correct it.  We are locked into an old strategy that views landscape as incidental, the natural world as backdrop and not central to our own well-being.  As long as it meets a narrow idea of our needs, a modern minimalist aesthetic and does not over tax our ‘pocketbook’, we have been okay with it.  From a horticultural viewpoint this is becoming an increasingly deteriorating disaster, something that not only we can do something about, but one that it is imperative that we do so.  Adaptive Management is a positive and workable strategy we can adopt that will begin to turn this situation around. Continue reading