UCSD by Design: Gilles Clément (by University of California Television (UCTV))
Went to Chislehurst Common on a wet, wild and very windy day to draw and try and get a better understanding of the place, before embarking on design work.
In 1947 Axel Erlandson opened his road side attraction ‘The Tree Circus’ in Scotts Valley, California. Twenty years earlier he had observed the natural occurrence of inosculation (grafting of one neighboring tree to another) in his own hedgerow. Inspired, he taught himself the arts of pruning and grafting and began to form trees into unusual shapes for his own amusement. Business eventually dried up to a trickle of visitors after local traffic was diverted onto a new highway and Erlandson sold the property in 1963 shortly before his death.
Some of the trees were later transplanted to an amusement park in Gilroy, California and preserved specimens can also be seen in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art History.
I’ve been looking at traditional Kentish hop-gardens for a planting design project. The architecture of the 16ft chestnut poles makes a scene in the landscape like no other. These days British hop-gardens are very few and far between and production is mechanized, in common with every other agricultural practice. Before WWII the work was done by hand, by an army of pickers who had come on their ‘holidays’ in the late summer, mainly from London’s East End. ‘Stringers’ walked on stilts to construct the wire and coir string framework and hop plants would shoot up the poles in a matter of weeks, twining themselves clockwise around the wood. Men, women and children picked the hops, their hands turning black from the sap.
I had the pleasure of meeting some elderly East End women who had ‘gone hopping’ with their families as children and they shared some of their songs with me. They said the work was hard, but they always looked forward to going every year and it was a chance to spend time with old friends. Many people who had come down from London to work, later moved out of the city to Kent, inspired by happy memories. My husband worked picking hops as a teenager in Surrey. He was taught to tickle trout by the Gypsies he was working with…
Many of these pictures are from this heart warming page: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/09/14/more-hop-picking-pictures/
and from this one on the ‘Hop Picking Year’: http://www.bygonebodiam.co.uk/Winter%20Preparation.htm
Mapping the habitats and flora of Chislehurst Common for our latest ‘Design with Nature’ project. Brilliant to finally get stuck into something.
Chislehurst Common was used for grazing up until WWII, and as a result, over the centuries built up a diverse heathland habitat. When agricultural practices changed the Common began to be over taken by the natural succession of scrub and woodland. Now it is a locally treasured young wood, inundated with dog walkers. It is less diverse and could potentially be a far more valuable habitat if it was returned to heath, but the popular perception of trees as the ultimate symbol of ‘nature’ means that locals will protect every tree until the end.
The heat maps can easily tell you how far away two points are at a glance, to let you know how long your walk is going to be.
"These maps show how long it takes to get everywhere else via walking and public transit," Hardin writes in an email. "This allows you to make some important comparisons, such as ‘if I move here, I can reach half the city in 50 minutes if I start at 8 a.m.’" His paper explains more of the technical details.
Chinampa (Nahuatl: chināmitl [tʃiˈnaːmitɬ]) is a method of ancient Mesoamerican agriculture which used small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds in the Valley of Mexico.
Sometimes referred to as “floating gardens,” chinampas were artificial islands that usually measured roughly 98 ft × 8.2 ft (30 m × 2.5 m). Chinampas were used by the ancient Aztec [Aboriginal Peoples]. In Tenochtitlan, the chinampas ranged from 300 ft × 15 ft (91 m × 4.6 m) to 300 ft × 30 ft (91 m × 9.1 m) They were created by staking out the shallow lake bed and then fencing in the rectangle with wattle. The fenced-off area was then layered with mud, lake sediment, and decaying vegetation, eventually bringing it above the level of the lake. Often trees such as āhuexōtl [aːˈweːʃoːt͡ɬ] (Salix bonplandiana) (a willow) and āhuēhuētl [aːˈweːweːt͡ɬ] (Taxodium mucronatum) (a cypress) were planted at the corners to secure the chinampa. Chinampas were separated by channels wide enough for a canoe to pass. These “islands” had very high crop yields with up to 7 crops a year.
photo: Iraun permakultura (1), Aztec Chinampas model by Te Mahi, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa (2)
The European Green Belt initiative celebrates it’s 10th anniversary this year.
”The aim is to turn the Iron Curtain’s entire 4,250-mile length – extending from the Arctic to the Black Sea – into what is already being called the ‘Central European Green Belt’,” says Dr Kai Frobel, a German ornithologist and conservationist.
The path of the former Iron Curtain crosses 24 countries and 8 bio-geographical regions. The highly restricted access to the east-west border over it’s 37 year existence created a unique natural reserve for wildlife, including Lynx, Eagles, Bears, Wolves and Elk. The ‘death strip’ has preserved life and has made for a potent symbol of nature’s triumph over and indifference to even the most barbaric and severe of human endeavours.