May 24, 2010

Running Out of Space to Plant: A Bra that Grows Rice

Photograph Kitamura/Gallery
A bra that does double duty:  Boobs & Food
Japanese urban farmers can wear this new undergarment made by Triumph
and grow their own rice in recyclable plastic pots. 

"Over the last year, young Japanese women have taken a tremendous interest in agriculture.  We wanted other women to experience farming as well, " Triumph spokeswoman Yoshiko Masuda told Reuters.

"Home kits that allow people to grow their own rice are very popular online.  We thought that it would be fun if a bra could give people the same experience,"  said Masuda.

"The bra fits much better than it looks.  Wearing it puts me in such a fun mood," said model Reiko Aoyama.
The bra comes with a pair of detachable farming gloves and a plastic water hose with seedlings that acts as a belt.

I don't know about you, but I might be willing to give it a go.

May 18, 2010

Little Bits & Pieces: Sustainable Urban Yards

Overlooked Assets:
The Horticultural Society of New York
May 14, 2010
Ken Smith, Ken Smith Landscape Architects
Marielle Anzelone, DROSERA
Jennifer Bolstad, Local Office Landscape Architecture
Rebecca Cole, Rebecca Cole GROWs
Tricia Martin, WE Design
Evan Mason, Sustainable Yards
Tatiana Morin, NYC Soil and Water Conservation  District
Steven Tupu, Terrain NYC
 Copyright Rebecca Cole
Green Wall Inspired by Mondrain Painting  by Rebecca Cole
Copyright We Design
Proposal for using urban space by WE Design

LEFTOVER PIECES...Little Bits & Pieces...
Odd Spaces...CRACKS
Overlook Assets
53,000 acres of  residential yard space is available for the potential greening of NYC.
8 landscape architects give us their take on how to use this space.

Failed expansion joints and subway vents are two "spaces" Ken Smith thinks about.  His landscape architecture focuses on underused places, re-purposed materials and seriously inventive thinking.  His use of shredded tires and folding curtain walls, puts Ken at the top of "have you considered this" list.  

It's not that his work is always successful.  It's not that he is a great plantsman.  In fact, he relies on the expertise of others, when it comes to plants for his landscapes.  It's the way he thinks about landscape that turns conventional notions on their head. 

His current project, a rooftop terrace in NYC for a collector of Chinese scholar rocks requires a visionary.  The terrace is used four times a year as a staging area  for window washing equipment, therefore, the landscape has to be removable.  Ken's solution:  A riff on the scholar rock made out of acrylic, holding one plant each and on wheels.  Unexpected solutions are what you get from Ken Smith.

Green thinking dominated the presentations of Trish Martin, Steven Tupu and Rebecca Cole. Permeable surfaces, native plants and green roofs were tools employed by these landscape designers. I wondered if this is all we mean when we talk about sustainability?

Jennifer Bolstad of Local Office Landscape Architecture answered my question.  After designing large public projects, her office began work on small residential properties:  backyards in Arverne, a beach community on the Rockaway Peninsula.

"A home depot moment"  is how Jennifer describe her work with the owners of the Arverne complex.  The owners wanted their help, but they also wanted to build and plant their own backyards.  It was DIY.  For landscape architects this is an unusual request.  Jennifer and her partner decided to give it a try and something amazing happened.

The developer had a plot of land, which he offered to the owners to make a communal space.  One of the owners, who had worked with Local Office, felt confident that he had learned enough working with Local Office that he drew up a plan and executed the design. 

That is what I call sustainable design.

May 8, 2010

Paradise Found: Rosetta Sarah Elkin

TINY Taxonomy
International Garden Festival - Les Jardins Metis
June 26 - October 3, 2010

Chelsea, Chaumont and Metis.  The 3 biggies of the garden festival world.  I logged onto the jardin de metis site to find out who the winners were for 2010 season:  Three winners, all unknown to me.  I started with Rosetta Sara Elkin's project Tiny Taxonomy.

Rosetta was kind enough to talk to me about her background and her project, which I publish here in its entirety, including the plant list she sent me.

"I began my professional career in garden design, which is a scale that continues to define my approach to landscape architecture; seasonality, process and vegetative transformation.  After completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts, I was trained at the University of Toronto, receiving a MLA with distinction.  I have been working professionally at Inside Outisde/Petra Blaisse (Amsterdam) on a range of large scale and international assignments.  In 2007, I received a grant to set up my own design studio: RSE.  My work addresses an ongoing interest in the role of vegetation as a theoretical tool for framing and conceptualizing large scale urbanism and spatial design.

Les Jardin Metis is one of the most renowned festivals in the world, located in a truly Canadian setting.  A festival such as this offers an opportunity to contribute to the contemporary discussion of gardens, of what defines them and how they are received by the public.  Essential qualities of the regional landscape are condensed to the scale vegetation, which engages the rich cultural history of gardening.  Gardens have always been sites of transformation, change, light, shadow, movement and perspective - made evident by the immediate conditions and the local elements.  It is my hope that Tiny Taxonomy will remind visitors that contemporary festivals are also about imaginative gardening. "
 Copyright Rosetta Sarah Elkin.  No usage without permission.

"Nature will bear the closet inspection.
She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, 
and take an insect view of its plain."
-Henry David Thoreau.

"The theme of this year's festival is 'Paradise'.  Each entry was asked to consider a contemporary vision for a garden along this theme.

Paradise is a cultural construct which often reflects the collective values of a people or religious group.  As such, ideas about paradise are highly specific and underscore a set of common experiences and perspectives which are not universally applicable.

What is universal about notions of paradise is that they often represent an idealization of nature.  Furthermore, these idealizations (often deployed as gardens) tend to depict entire ecosystems (the grandeur of nature), focusing on vistas, sight lines, and compositions rather than the individual players in the system.

'Tiny Taxonomy' attempts to highlight the beauty and frailty of paradise's most inconspicuous and often ignored players:  the plants of the forest floor.  By providing a partial inventory of some of the smallest operators of the forest ecosystem and by elevating these species from their traditional position at the forest floor (underfoot), it is hoped that their highly delicate and intricate nature will be made evident to visitors of the garden.  Tiny unpacks and re-presents the garden, inviting the visitor to consider the beauty of individual species."
 Copyright Rosetta Sarah Elkin.  No usage without permission.

"This festival offers designers a chance to experiment with ideas in real time and with an appreciative audience.  Tiny is designed as an occasion to isolate certain specimens in their natural habitat.  Gardens take years to develop to their full potential and although the Festival runs over several months, it is not enough time to offer visitors a truly vegetative experience.  The design uses this disadvantage to its benefit by planting small species which require little time to fill in.  Instead 'Tiny Taxonomy' will be planted just as it is imagined.  All the planting and installation will be done in-situ, starting in May."

I have been looking at my calendar and trying to decide when to make the trip to jardin metis.  How often does one get the chance to visit paradise?


*The planters are mostly imagined as holding a single species, but some combinations are required to hold seasonal interest.

*Groundcovers are added as required with species that do not form a good ground cover.
*Over maintenance to trim height, leaves and typical deadheading can be kept to a minimum, as decay is part of the forest ambiance.


The plants in Tiny Taxonomy were donated by a well-known and specialty nursery in the area:

The Gardens are located on route 132 in Grand-Metis, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, mid-way between Rimouski and Matane. 


*Please respect the copyright on all these images. Contact Rosetta for usage.

May 2, 2010

The Pied Piper of Fleurs: Bella Meyer

Copyright Phyllis Odessey
fleurs BELLA - Flowers Used at the Flower Graffiti Workshop

A motley crew marched out of fleurs BELLA,  on East 11th street, Monday night.  The shop's owner, Bella Meyer led the way.  We were  distributing small bouquets made at her flower graffiti workshop.

It was a guerilla action.
Copyright Phyllis Odessey
Putting the bouquets together, before taking to the streets at fleurs BELLA.
 Copyright Phyllis Odessey
Following Bella Meyer up 11 Street with our bags our bouquets.

Bella instructed us:  If you see someone sad or someone who looks like they might need a pick me up, give them a bouquet.  Do not ask, if they would like a bunch of flowers:  just give it to them.  And...if you see a sad or lonely looking spot on the street, leave a bouquet.  
We listened and did as commanded.
Copyright Phyllis Odessey
Flower graffitti on East 11 Street.

Bella is somewhat of a radical.  She is not a florist or floral designer, but a beautifier, as her card points out.  Her shop is a reflection of her personality:  innovative, gracious and exuberant.

The minute you walk in the door of fleur BELLA, you have entered an inspired universe.  This is the place to feast your eyes on beautiful vases (vintage and contemporary), surround yourself with unusual leaves and sumptuous branches and become aware of the beauty of a single flower... with Bella's help.

Copyright Phyllis Odessey
Bella Meyer toasting her friends at fleurs BELLA

Bella Meyer will change your idea of how flowers can be put together.
It is truly a revolutionary experience.