Archives for category: Germany environmental issues
Beautifully Simple
Perfect for the Southwest
Oblivious to its Environment
This Design is hopefully a thing of the Past













I recently returned from the American Southwest and was pleased to discover that the era of the lawn and lush landscape has faded. As little as twenty years ago, residential neighborhoods in the arid southwest were landscaped primarily with lawns and water guzzling plants. 

Formality within
the Context of a Desert Garden


In the mid-twentieth century, Americans were fixated on having the picture perfect green lawn, no matter what the local climate. Today, you find desert landscaping and see very little grass. Southwestern gardeners have replaced grass with cacti, succulents, and sand. This trend toward eco-friendly landscapes means gardens work with the environment and can grow without supplemental water.

Mimicking Nature
in the Garden














As a landscape architecture student, I would sometimes include native plants as part of an overall landscape design, only to see these specimens replaced with “client friendly” plants (eg. hibiscus, ferns, willows, and other thirsty plants). That was thirty years ago. These days, people are more receptive to native plants and designs that work with nature. In an age of climate change skeptics and “drill, baby, drill” demagogues, it’s gratifying to see Americans moving toward a sustainable world right in their own gardens.

Lush Plantings
that are Drought Tolerant

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Beautifully Simple
Perfect for the Southwest
Oblivious to its Environment
This Design is hopefully a thing of the Past













I recently returned from the American Southwest and was pleased to discover that the era of the lawn and lush landscape has faded. As little as twenty years ago, residential neighborhoods in the arid southwest were landscaped primarily with lawns and water guzzling plants. 

Formality within
the Context of a Desert Garden


In the mid-twentieth century, Americans were fixated on having the picture perfect green lawn, no matter what the local climate. Today, you find desert landscaping and see very little grass. Southwestern gardeners have replaced grass with cacti, succulents, and sand. This trend toward eco-friendly landscapes means gardens work with the environment and can grow without supplemental water.

Mimicking Nature
in the Garden














As a landscape architecture student, I would sometimes include native plants as part of an overall landscape design, only to see these specimens replaced with “client friendly” plants (eg. hibiscus, ferns, willows, and other thirsty plants). That was thirty years ago. These days, people are more receptive to native plants and designs that work with nature. In an age of climate change skeptics and “drill, baby, drill” demagogues, it’s gratifying to see Americans moving toward a sustainable world right in their own gardens.

Lush Plantings
that are Drought Tolerant

Mur Végétal
Height 18m [59″]; Width 15m [49″];
 area 270 sq.m [2903 sq. ft.];
water 16,200 liters [4227 gallons]

Berlin has it all, including a tropical rain forest right in the middle of the city. Dussmann, Berlin’s largest bookstore, not only has an excellent selection of books, CD’s, and DVD’s, but it also houses Le Mur Végétal (Vertical Garden), a collection of tropical plants, which grow, not on soil, but on an elaborate drip irrigation system enabling plants to grow on walls.

This living artwork is the creation of French botanist and horticultural artist Patrick Blanc. Blanc, using a hydroponic system invented by Stanley Hart White, a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois, has created a spectacular facade symbolizing the world’s need for ecological and social sustainability. Blanc has a number of other gardens around the world, including artworks in Singapore, San Francisco, and Paris. Le Mur Végétal is free to the public, and is an awesome example of 21th century Landscape Architecture.   

Sphinx of Queen of Hatshepsut
(Egypt 18th Dynasty (1475 BC)
Greets Visitors to Mur Végétal









Mur Végétal
Height 18m [59″]; Width 15m [49″];
 area 270 sq.m [2903 sq. ft.];
water 16,200 liters [4227 gallons]

Berlin has it all, including a tropical rain forest right in the middle of the city. Dussmann, Berlin’s largest bookstore, not only has an excellent selection of books, CD’s, and DVD’s, but it also houses Le Mur Végétal (Vertical Garden), a collection of tropical plants, which grow, not on soil, but on an elaborate drip irrigation system enabling plants to grow on walls.

This living artwork is the creation of French botanist and horticultural artist Patrick Blanc. Blanc, using a hydroponic system invented by Stanley Hart White, a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois, has created a spectacular facade symbolizing the world’s need for ecological and social sustainability. Blanc has a number of other gardens around the world, including artworks in Singapore, San Francisco, and Paris. Le Mur Végétal is free to the public, and is an awesome example of 21th century Landscape Architecture.   

Sphinx of Queen of Hatshepsut
(Egypt 18th Dynasty (1475 BC)
Greets Visitors to Mur Végétal









There’s always something to see on the streets of Berlin. 

This temporary art installation just appeared overnight. It’s located near the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station
in Kreuzberg. 
A bronze face located near the Foreign Ministry
in Mitte
Beautifying a parkway on
Libauerstr. in Friedrichshain
Located on Karl-Marx Alle and
surrounded by Stalinist style apartments
this kiosk is in the shape of a baby bottle.
It states, “Finally Grown Up”
On the corner of Warschauerstr.
and Friedrichsstr. this street light
is the victim of too many posters

There’s always something to see on the streets of Berlin. 

This temporary art installation just appeared overnight. It’s located near the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station
in Kreuzberg. 
A bronze face located near the Foreign Ministry
in Mitte
Beautifying a parkway on
Libauerstr. in Friedrichshain
Located on Karl-Marx Alle and
surrounded by Stalinist style apartments
this kiosk is in the shape of a baby bottle.
It states, “Finally Grown Up”
On the corner of Warschauerstr.
and Friedrichsstr. this street light
is the victim of too many posters

Overhead Subway Gives Riders
a Glimpse of the Park


One of my favorite parks in Berlin is now complete. The west end section of the Park am Gleisdreieck officially opened to an enthusiastic public this past weekend despite rain and thunder. 

Dog Park

A former rail yard, the Park am Gleisdreieck shows how a little imagination and a lot of hard work can transform a toxic brown field into an eco-friendly space with meadows, playgrounds, sport fields, bicycle trails, and areas dedicated to native plant and wildlife preservation. This park also has a cafe, open air theater, vegetable garden, and dog run. The Park am Gleisdreieck incorporates elements from its past (rail ties, tool sheds, and towers) into a modern multi-functional design.






Overhead Subway Gives Riders
a Glimpse of the Park


One of my favorite parks in Berlin is now complete. The west end section of the Park am Gleisdreieck officially opened to an enthusiastic public this past weekend despite rain and thunder. 

Dog Park

A former rail yard, the Park am Gleisdreieck shows how a little imagination and a lot of hard work can transform a toxic brown field into an eco-friendly space with meadows, playgrounds, sport fields, bicycle trails, and areas dedicated to native plant and wildlife preservation. This park also has a cafe, open air theater, vegetable garden, and dog run. The Park am Gleisdreieck incorporates elements from its past (rail ties, tool sheds, and towers) into a modern multi-functional design.






The Buckeye or Horse Chestnut tree (Aesculus californica) reminds me of my native California. Its white flowers are a signal that spring has arrived; and when the leaves drop in July, it’s a signal that the scorching hot weather has begun. 

In Europe, the Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus x carnea) is very similar to the California variety except its flowers are pink and the leaves drop in the Fall. After the Linden tree, the Red Horse Chestnut is probably the most common street tree in Berlin. Berlin is trying to add more trees to the city, and their work is beginning to pay off. All over town, I’m seeing a lot of newly planted trees. It certainly softens this gray and rather cold city. 
The Buckeye or Horse Chestnut tree (Aesculus californica) reminds me of my native California. Its white flowers are a signal that spring has arrived; and when the leaves drop in July, it’s a signal that the scorching hot weather has begun. 

In Europe, the Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus x carnea) is very similar to the California variety except its flowers are pink and the leaves drop in the Fall. After the Linden tree, the Red Horse Chestnut is probably the most common street tree in Berlin. Berlin is trying to add more trees to the city, and their work is beginning to pay off. All over town, I’m seeing a lot of newly planted trees. It certainly softens this gray and rather cold city.