Monday, June 25, 2012

More effects of heat and drought...

I snapped this first image in front of a large rental property in downtown Evanston. It illustrates what I said in previous post about Serviceberries  drying out so that even the fruit was a bust.

Below is a beautiful surprise from the heat and warmer, longer growing season. These poppies resurfaced after years...but this client waters her garden. We didn't know they were there when I placed the Canna (that she overwinters in Greenhouse), but it's a lovely combination.

Otherwise, it is due to reach 100 degrees by Thursday and there is no rain in sight.  When you drive past the Lindens, the ground is littered in their yellow seeds....are they putting out more progeny in case they don't survive?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

These few plants are happy during our severe drought

We planted these cacti in this pot about a month ago on a client's rooftop garden in Chicago. They love the high heat and lack of rain. Not me, and I am not even a farmer. This year, our average temperature for January to May was 48F. Not only did we not have snow (maybe a dusting twice), but we've hardly had any rain this spring. Now today, as we move into the official start of summer, we've had so many 90F days, I've lost track...the high 80s began when I arrived home from Guatemala (where it was cooler with unseasonably early rains) in March. Most people probably only notice that the turf grass is looking browned out like it usually does at the end of August. I've been aware of other fall-out: the Serviceberrys didn't have edible berries this year: they wizened before sweetening (even the birds weren't interested) and the leaves of certain parkway Maples are already grey from fungus. Most plant material is dry and crunchy and I fear the trees that are diseased will be accelerated in their decline. This extremity of climate condition really brings home our dependence on water and the resulting problems when our normal conditions do not prevail. But I do not know what will wake up people to our part in the cycle. 
Since I've been practicing tough love with no supplemental watering in my garden area for about the past four years, it is interesting to note what is tolerating these extremes and what is not. I'm surprised that the boxwood (which was exposed to light last summer when the parkway Bradford Pear was removed) is doing much better in the heat and dry.
What have you observed?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Voila! Manifestation of spirit, brawn and technology

This image concludes the process begun on my post of June 8, 2012. Evanston is a fairly sophisticated community, but nothing brought out the crowds like this switch of old CTA train bridge to new. I heard people were out all night on their lawn chairs...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Transition of Christo's Spirit

This is a follow-up to previous post...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Joys of Reunion: U of C Friends & Bldgs #1 (Logan Center for the Arts)

There's no denying on the occasion of our University of Chicago 35th college reunion my friends and I are manifesting some annoying physical changes. But the good news is that we have lived long enough to be grateful to celebrate full lives and the heartening fact that the three friends I connected with are still active, committed liberals who attempt to contribute positively to society.

Our informal gathering took place amongst two of us former English majors, one of us who sang and was in the theater and the fourth who became an architect. Three of us currently do some form of teaching. At the time we attended the U of C, almost all arts activity was extra-curricular. I spend the bulk of my time my first two years at Doc Films and the latter two at The Chicago Review. Other than winning first place in the John Billings Fiske Prize in Poetry, there was little recognition or support from the institution.

In this nostalgic context, it was extremely thrilling to visit the new Logan Center for the Arts, open for preview until its formal opening in October. We even met some undergraduates who were doing Circus training: unthinkable!

Our tour of the space was made particularly fascinating by the in-depth critique of our architect pal who could answer our questions in ways that raised other questions...typical sign of a U of C education. One of the evident issues we discussed was: how do you integrate a 2012 building into a campus that is dominated by a college quadrangle built in the 1890s in Victorian and Collegiate Gothic ?

We concluded that the architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, designed a very compelling building. They redefined what it is like to inhabit a Tower Space, made great use of the staircases and light, provided humanizing detail and certainly engaged us. Not to mention the many art space requirements. It was also professionally instructive to see the details that were not quite perfect.

To quote the architects philosophy:
"We see architecture as an act of profound optimism.
Its foundation lies in believing that it is possible to make places on earth that can give a sense of grace to life - and believing that that matters. It is what we have to give and it is what we leave behind."

As a landscape designer, I can strongly relate to their intentions. We differ in what we leave behind since unmaintained gardens have very short shelf-lives.

This last image is one of the cool details...that may eventually be changed, so go see it now. For the present, there is an intended gap between the skeleton and the stairs. This made us soar and, of course, question assumptions about structure and space.