Jan '12 - Oct '13
Invasive species. Usually defined as something like a non-native plant (or animal) that outcompetes its native counterparts. There are your native plant hardliners, who not only promote the use of native species, but advocate for the active removal and eradication of non-natives. The majority of landscape architects have a slightly more relativist worldview, planting non-natives that are less prone to rapid spread and reproduction, but talking about Euonymous and Euphorbia like white flour or smoking - a now unfashionable youthful indiscretion. At the other end of the spectrum (I suppose I fall somewhere around here) is an attitude based in endless relativism and turned off by whiffs of jingoism. If it survives, especially in hostile urban environments, why not? Aren't changes in the natural environment often caused by serendipitous movement of flora and fauna and/or catastrophic, large scale change? Many of the arguments for biodiversity have undeniable ecological services - protecting against erosion, pollination - but many are also services enjoyed by humans (protecting against erosion, pollination, tourism, cultural heritage, etc.).
So what's the point of Invasive of the Hour? I'm not sure yet. It'll start out at a look at invasives/exotics that are interesting either for their formal characteristics or their origin stories. Maybe I'll be able to better articulate a position on them someday, but I'm thinking that the categorization of "invasives/exotics" is somehow less useful than descriptions of biological characteristics (speed of reproduction, soil preference, etc.). . .
Russian Olive - Eleagnus angustifollia
Small thorny shrub/small tree. Fragrant flowers, grey blue leaves. Mealy fruit eaten and dispersed by birds. The shrub can fix nitrogen in its roots, enabling it to grow on bare mineral substrates and poor soils. Introduced to North America in the 19th Century. Populating riverbanks, replacing old stands of native cottonwoods. (from Wikipedia)
Early 21st C. design pedagogy and practice privilege the blurring of landscape architecture, building architecture, and urbanism. While the integration of environmental and built systems holds great promise for designers, the generalist impulse can obscure the value of specialization and experience, especially when working in the medium of living systems. This blog seeks to demystify landscape architecture, working not to reinforce differences in title, but foster mutual understanding.