October Evening

October 10, 2014

Was putting garden clippings into the compost pile about 5pm this evening when a herd of eleven javelinas moseyed down the drainage wash and stopped to eat mesquite seeds under my large mesquite tree. I started to talk to them, as usual, and most of them came over to the garden fence to smell me, their noses wrinkling up and down, not usual.  Hackles up, but friendly. Usually only the alpha male checks me out.  Most of them were small, probably young.

About 20 minutes later I was clipping the rosemary, the cat next to me, when she looked over to the other side of the yard and jumped up a few of the spiral stairs. A bobcat was ambling past the yard on that side.

So I figured that it was time to go in.  Plus we had a full day and night of rain two days ago and the no-see-ums were out, biting my ankles.  Was surprised that we had them in Tucson.  Remembered them from New Jersey.

No-see-ums are small biting flies that appear during the summer months. These tiny biting insects are barely visible to the naked eye, but their bites can be very painful and annoying.

Literature references indicate that no-see-um species found in Arizona and the southwest are of the genus Culicoides. Adult no-see-ums are less than 1/16-inch long can easily pass through normal window screens, and resemble a smaller, more compact version of the mosquito. They are most active in early mornings and evenings of mid to late summer. Mouth parts are well developed with elongated mandibles adapted for blood sucking. Both males and females feed on flower nectar but only the female feeds on blood. She must consume blood for her eggs to mature and become viable.

No-see-um eggs are laid on moist soil. Common breeding areas include the edges of springs, streams and ponds, muddy and swampy areas, tree holes, and even water associated with air conditioning units. The eggs hatch in as little as 3 days. The wormlike larvae have short brush like breathing structures that allows them to breathe in an aquatic environment. Although larvae are not strictly aquatic or terrestrial, they cannot develop without moisture. After feeding on decomposing organic matter and pupating, adults emerge, feed, and mate.1

And a mosquito is sneaking around, biting my hands as I type.  Almost got her when she landed on the wall.  Almost.  On the news they had mentioned that we have a large crop of mosquitoes right now due to the rain.  So there are a couple of downsides to all of the precipitation we’ve had in the past two weeks.  (Plus yesterday morning after I got to work I checked the humidity – 93%!  Practically unheard of here.)

Landscape Architecture

Continuing in the reading of books on Landscape Architecture.  I had commented on The Meaning of Gardens when I was only in the Introduction2.  Now I’ve finished it.  Each essay is written by a different landscape architect.  These quotes are  not summaries, just ones that piqued my interest.

Clare Marcus, in The Garden as Metaphor, wrote that The earth began to be considered as an inertia geological object, replete with resources available for exploitation.  Since the notion of raping one’s mother was repugnant, the planet could no longer be conceived as Mother Earth.  The theme of raping the earth is repeated in a few of the essays.

Ian McHarg wrote Nature is More than A Garden, and mentions that, There is an accompanying belief that work outdoors, preferably in a garden, touching soils, plants, water, stone, confers not only physical but also mental health, a thesis that is often postulated throughout the book.

In Flowers, Power, and Sex, Robert Riley recalled …the angry reaction to Martin Krieger’s provocative, carefully reasoned question “What’s Wrong with Plastic Trees?”  That response culminated in an accusation by Hugh Iltis that anyone asking that question probably got his sexual satisfaction from water-filled, lubricated, female manikins.

Tucson was noted in Kerry Dawson’s Nature in the Urban Garden: …bird density was twenty-six times as high in urban gardens as in the surrounding desert of Tucson.  Well, we do put out water and seeds for them.  Note: my yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat® by the National Wildlife Federation.  (I filled out a form and sent them $20.)  Kerry states that The urban garden should avoid plants with no value to wildlife, and then quotes Marangio’s list of common garden plants of the United States that have no known wildlife value.  Included are the acacia, Algerian and English ivy, blue gum (eucalyptus), French broom, ice plant, pampas grass, periwinkle, and Scotch broom.  But he doesn’t mention the desert broom, bain of my garden as my neighbor allows his to grow and the “desert snow” of seeds blow into my yard3.

Christopher Grampp, in Social Meanings of Residential Gardens, quoted two homeowners. Harry remarked, “I could never see passing the rewards of a garden on to a gardener.  Why would a person ever hire a gardener, unless he didn’t like to garden?” For Paul, it represents peace of mind.  “Gardening has maintained my sanity.  It’s a real therapy.  You get out and your mind goes blank.  It’s a relief, superior to tranquilizers.”  That view again.

In Garden of the World, Randolph Hester, Jr. hit hard.

ag…the lush, rectangular-patterned oasis in the otherwise-arid valleys… that have been transformed into an agribusiness artwork so large it can only be appreciated from the air.  To keep this garden green, billions of gallons of water are diverted from the network of rivers and marshes that once laced the central valleys and nearby watersheds… (it costs more than $2200 per acre for irrigation alone)…
A beautiful illustration of man’s ability to dominate and control nature, it features ecological insensitivity and disregard for place (hundred of environmental modifications somewhat less visually dramatic than a near-empty Mono Lake are its by-products.  Like other great gardens, it is manicured and parterred by the powerless to enrich the powerful, with more of both than Louis XIV likely ever imagined.

opus 40Deborah Dalton wrote of Harvey Fite’s Opus 40: From Private Garden to Public Art Work.  I would love to visit it!  (Opus 40 is open Friday through Sunday, and holiday Mondays, Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day Weekend.)

Opus 40 is a six-acre environmental sculpture created from an abandoned bluestone quarry near Woodstock, New York.  The work is a series of terraces, pedestals, pools, steps, and ramps swirling around one another and spiraling up to the central focus, a nine-ton bluestone monolith.

The title of the quarry work, Opus 40, referred to the number of years he intended to work on the project…  Harvey Fite was killed in a fall at the quarry, just three years short of his goal.

[Ironically] he commented on Henry Moore: “…the representational object has a human value; more people can relate to it, comprehend it.  Non-objective art is merely decorative abstraction, or dehumanized art.  Moore’s work is too dehumanized, it has lost the human statement.  His abstractions of the reclining nude and family groups are so distorted that you can’t see the nude or the family.”

sf gardenGray Brechin wrote about Grace Marchant and the Global Garden.  I’m surprised that I never heard about it as I’ve been often to San Francisco.  This woman was incredible, as was the garden she created.

Grace was sixty-three then, and the trash-strewn, weed-grown right-of-way outside her window bothered her.  She set about hauling the bedsprings, tires, and lumber to the cliff and dumping them over the side.  Without asking anyone at City Hall she began conditioning the sandstone outcropping.  Over the next thirty-three year, she cultivated a garden that has attained world fame and created a community of the cottage and apartments around it.

Then he goes into a different vein (back to the rape of the earth):

The environmental and economic crises that now wrack the planet – ozone depletion, dying rivers, seas, and forests, the insidious spread of radioactivity, and the rising price of nearly everything – are the accumulated interest on 5,000 years of exploitive civilization.  Yet because civilization has many valued attributes, the costs involved in raising the facade that hides exploitation are seldom recognized.  Unable to locate the problem, we are helpless to find solution.

Another garden can represent that facade.  Famous in its time as one of the most luxuriantly landscaped estates on the San Francisco Peninsula, the garden created by William Barron at Menlo Park was modeled on those of the European nobility.  Rare specimen plants were imported from around the world to embellish the oak-dotted savannah, and the lawns were flooded throughout the summer to maintain their verdue.

The money to create the Baron garden was gathered from a much larger landscape wrecked twenty miles away and from future generations who would foot the bill for its beauty.  William Barron was principal of a syndicate that controlled the production of mercury in California, an element essential for refining gold and silver ores.  Today, the blasted cinnabar tailings of New Almaden leach mercury into the reservoirs and streams of the Santa Clara Valley and the sediments of San Francisco Bay.  Cleanup of New Almaden, if possible, is estimated to cost millions, but much of the downstream contamination is simply irremediable.

The Barron estate is typical of hundreds of other lovely gardens built from strip mining, clear-cutting, slave trading, chemicals, and munitions.  Seldom are the ugly mean and lovely end closely juxtaposed so that the observer can gauge the true costs involved.  Lacking the direct involvement of their owners, such gardens are as much expressions of conspicuous display as the other purchased accoutrements of the estate.

Garrett Eckko wrote Today into Tomorrow: An Optimistic ViewWay optimistic.  He first expects all of the countries of the world to Control population growth.  Wow, would that be great.  (I do advocate ZPG – Zero Population Growth.)  Would parents allow their children to become suicide bombers if they had only two children, no spares?  Also, then parents could afford to educate both children, even if they were girls!  That would so change the world.  But the religious groups – Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, Fundamentalist Christians, Orthodox Jews, those where men only become mullas, priests, ministers, rabbis, would never go for it.  Other points, Conservation of natural resources, Ecosystem resurrection, and so on, are dwarfed by Control population growth. But I should get off my soapbox and get back to landscape architecture and the book.

Catherine Howett, in Gardens Are Good Places for Dying, mentioned Versailles (which doesn’t have anything to do with dying, but I was impressed with the statistic):

The king’s landscape genius André Le Nôtre boasted, for example, that by continually “carrying out, removing, and bringing back” more than two million potted plants, the garden surrounding the Trianon Palace was “always filled with flowers… and one never sees a dead leaf, or a shrub not in bloom.”


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One Response to “October Evening”

  1. Price Says:

    Both well researched and written as usual.

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