Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Movements

Movements are powerful. They are in the wind, plants, people, places, and life.

Some might say I moved deep behind enemy lines on a recent trip to central Texas. (UT and my alma mater OU don't exactly love each other) But rest assured, I'm not switching sides. I'm simply appreciating another place's excellence in what matters much to me.

In fact, it matters to everyone, even if they don't yet realize it; outdoor living excellence.

I continue to find that the "enemy" is quite friendly! Enjoy the movements in some great spaces I saw.
When I heard DJ John Aeilli describe the landscape below the new KUT studios, I had to visit, to see if Christy Ten Eyck's office designed it - yep. Few others in Texas seem to appreciate native Honey Mesquite, even many who get the land.

Many buildings treat entry and exit in a straight line. The new Belo Center at UT instead offers several ways to move about, where one has to experience different levels, mostly native plants, and the land - in order to go elsewhere.
Later on my trip, this likeness to UT's mascot, Bevo, moved towards me...a longhorn steer, even UT's burnt orange color.

I just had to say, "hey Bevo!", in case he would pose.
And he did, turning towards me for a classic photo angle! Uh oh. Movement.
But I digress - I'm back, deep behind enemy lines, to look at landscape movements. As these students zoom around.
Movement in water downhill - cooling sounds and sights.

Movements can end in something peaceful like this pool, mimicking a riparian area.
Grasses move in the breeze or wind, just like students down a ramp and through some other plantings, as they move between classes, where they live, and other activities. I think every plant species here is native to their ecoregion or adjacent ones.
Sideoats Grama, a native and their state grass in Texas. No need to use non-native species that have nothing to do with one's place...far more effective to love, embrace, and use place in creating one's place.
Of course, some of the movement is on cell phones, while walking down the steps. Hopefully, this
mesquite tree will perform well in its container, as well as those in the tree wells.
More students leaving the building differently...
...via a different way, through different plantings, such as Flame Acanthus L and Pale Yucca R. More native plants!


Even more texting, walking, and Sideoats Grama. It really pops against the plain background, as the wind moves it back and forth. That looks like another local native on top of the wall, the succulent Beargrass.

Over the years, I've made treasured friends with those from the opposite camp, gaining an appreciation for the place they hold dear. So have others. Ten Eyck grew up in Texas, attended Texas Tech, only to move away and later move right back to another part of it.

I think I get it. And many there certainly get it. Movements are good.

25 comments:

  1. I like these designs. Some have such "scruffy" landscapes. And I like the fountain but it looks so deep!

    I like the looks of the trees and the planters though. They certainly add a lot of character to the landscape. Looks fun even if you were behind the enemy lines:)

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    1. I think it really came out well, especially how it disperses people out of the building. Not sure how it brings them in, but the lobby was fairly generous. It was very much fun, and I hope to post more on the space from an aesthetic perspective.

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  2. You made it behind enemy lines and back safely!

    Beautiful, student-friendly landscape. It also looks like it can stand up to the abuse these places take. That fountain does look deep, I guess students don't tend to party here.

    Sideoats grama as ornamental grass is a new idea for me. We have Texas grama volunteering in the buffalo grass and I might just go with it.

    I'm guessing "Bevo" is in Johnson City area.

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    1. Yes, little did they know...though Bevo seemed suspicious. (and he was SW of Johnson City...you may have met him!)

      I like how it looks durable, yet it is soft. It also looks like a healthy budget, given all the plants used. Much to that whole site. Not sure how it works after dark, but I imagine at that intersection, no one can hide and hang out there.

      Sideoats is nice used that way, and also as you have it volunteering!

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  3. Great post about movement. I can imagine the plants moving in the breeze. They certainly help to soften the hardscaping. I, too, love the water feature. It reminds me a bit of the water gardens in Fort Worth. It has a life of its own, and people flock to it. (When the water is on - I went once during a drought when they had the water off, and it is a sad sight.) Looks like they used some tough plantings that shouldn't need pampering, but will still be beautiful. I also like that they put the trees in so many areas, and so close to the buildings. In Texas, shade is usually very welcome!

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    1. Watching people move through that whole front of the building really grabbed me, since I was expecting to address that landscape from just the usual aesthetics-water harvesting-water use-etc things I'm always into! The water feature...nice. I have a feeling when it rains, something else goes on with how the levels work with the plants, filtering the runoff.

      The trees really did stand out, and I like that many are filtered (mesquites) and not too large, so a mix of sun and shade.

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  4. I love the Sideoats Gramma...and agree with the above...it's very cool that it can look both soft and architectural...movement is so important.

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    1. That's a great point on the architectural and softening effect of the same plant. Really shows the dual (or more) use of a single species, especially with hardscape.

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  5. Mesquites, OU and Texas all seem to share a type of "love/hate relationship". Not sure about using the Yucca pallida in lines but rather groups and need to be planted in rock or caliche. Nice pics David!

    D.R.

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    1. That they do - maybe OU can soften up, by equaling out that 41-59 series - well, maybe not in '12! I agree on the mulch for the yuccas, though I bet it's for a dense, leafy groundcover effect?

      P.S. - I think the TX Sage is too close, but prob had to get some immediate effect.

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  6. I'm at A&M and we're supposed to hate "t.u", but that aside, I really like the look of campus. Good job with the pics! I hope you had fun in Austin, it's such a hip and lively city :)

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    1. TU:-) I have a few A&M alum friends, and that rivalry is bad! Thanks for the visit and compliments; it is a nice place w/ people to match.

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    2. that's right, A&M is "The" University of Texas. ha ha.

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    3. You Aggies stick together, no matter the state.

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  7. Have you used cor-ten in any of your designs David? And how does one purchase it, specify, and construct the material.

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    1. I did a long time ago, as a free-standing fence in a rear garden (not retaining as in this project), with steel posts in concrete footings dividing each 6' or 8' long section. The contractor obtained the materials and had the posts fabricated from a local steel supplier here in ABQ.

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  8. Embrace the place! And a harsh-looking place it appears to be. Our Coast Live Oaks are luxuriant in comparison--that's a startling idea.

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    1. Funny, but coming from NM, it looks fairly soft and serene...but their droughts off and on since the late 1990's are taking a toll, plus that's a rocky plateau area. But may as well embrace place!

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  9. 'No need to use non-native species that have nothing to do with one's place...far more effective to love, embrace, and use place in creating one's place.'

    Interesting comment but don't agree! I designed all the landscape for the University of Nottingham in the UK for 14 years - it is a major high ranking University with an International reputation and students from all round the world. To have just used UK natives would have been totally inappropriate and quite discriminatory. I used as wide a palette of hardy plants as possible and the result was a landscape that the students appreciated and used.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I agree to an extent with your premises on past work and the varied student body. My own home's plant list (link top of blog...I indicated natives) and my plant philosophy (top right column of blog) embrace your view. Climatic and edaphic limitations rule, but I've no problem with small-scale embellishment, either!

      My disagreement is from my locale - native plants mostly ignored or left out, in favor of invasives (displacing natives, taking water & nutrients from them), unadapted plants, or those that have diluted our sense-of-place beyond recognition.

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  10. David, I am so glad you did this post! In particular, ecstatic you mentioned that a lot of people don't "get" Honey Mesquites. I am totally one of them! I have been meaning to ask you about them for some time, as I see in your posts and designs you have an affinity for them. I have an excuse being from Canada, I guess, that I don't get it ....just yet. Although these trees are SLOWLY growing on me. But please do share more reasons why you love them, and why I should love them here in San Antonio. I have MANY trees I need to plant in the back yard. So tell me David, are there a lot of mesquite cultivars? Some I see (what turns me off to them) around town are so lanky and ugly (sorry)...with branches that are so low...touch the ground....break....they look kind of spooky. I call them halloween trees. I am maintaining an open mind so please enlighten me.

    Also, I almost planted side oats gamma in my natural area in the back but was super turned off when I read it spreads aggressively by rhizomes....after battling bermuda....sooooooooooo not wanting to add another aggressive rhizomy'ish species. ALTHOUGH I LOVE IT and it is the prettiest grass in all of Texas in fields and along hwys....

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    1. I think my appreciation of honey mesquites is the context of working in the desert and living in a rocky upland area of it - mesquites can take it and look good. All mesquites need training, but many trees do.

      But your context, on the rim of the S Texas Brush Country (AKA Tamulipan Thorn Scrub), one who has mesquites already can also remove those that are overgrown, then retaining and pruning the few that are more promising and positioned well. As to planted mesquites and the cultivars, many are over-watered and poorly-maintained...and I think the South American mesquites may be more evergreen, but they are particularly unattractive when not cared for properly - and I also think has plenty of native mesquites, it has no need for S American species. I recommend reading "The Magnificent Mesquite" from a Tx A&M professor.

      Sideoats - I read up on their rhizomes - sounds like they do have them (I didn't know that), but they sound less agressive than those of buffalograss or esp. bermuda. Here in the foothills, they grow as widely-spaced bunches.

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  11. wow...in the first 5 mins I read this:
    "...mesquite is being utilized extensively worldwide to combat desertification, the gradual conversion of drylands to nonproductive lands. Desertification is caused by many factors, such as extended drought, excessive land cropping, overgrazing, overcultivation, and the mismanagement of irrigated croplands. Many species of mesquite are ideal for this use, because they require less than four inches of rainfall annually to establish themselves and survive." http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/excerpts/exrogmag.html

    PRETTY COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Of course, the bad side to their use to combat desertification is where they are not indigenous, and become invasive species and take water / choke out native vegetation. I have photos from the dry side of Maui and hear mesquites (and cacti) have infested endless areas of the Australian outback.

      Out here, Tamarisk was brought from dry parts of Eurasia to control erosion, and now it's hard to eradicate, taking over drainages. Though this summer's drought has it dying, while natives it replaced (screwbean mesquite, etc) are OK!

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  12. Wow - there is a lifetime of things to learn... just fascinating!

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