Every now and again Toby and I get together at a local coffeehouse to talk about our practices and about landscape architectural issues in general. Conversation never lags — as we did when we worked together at Copley-Wolff, and over meals with other LA friends, and even before then, when we were both grad students at Cornell, we find plenty to talk about. And we generate plenty of ideas for blog posts.
The thing is, once we’ve talked it seems harder actually to write the posts we’ve talked about.
Yesterday we had a long-overdue confab. As always, it was refreshing and fun to discuss our professional lives through the filter of a longtime friendship. We mined a vein of topics that covered, as always, a pretty wide territory. And once again, I made notes on what ideas I wanted to write about later.
This time, however, it dawned on me that the gulf between talking and writing would loom in front of us again, no matter what notes I took. The solution — at least for the moment — is simply to post the list of topics we covered. Here’s our list:
- Apple crumb cake or two-chocolate mousse? Brain food is important, and sweet selection really was our first topic as we stood at the counter. Apple crumb cake won out.
- Parcel 18 on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the clearing out of a rose thicket underneath a group of Dawn Redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). Now you can understand the design intent of letting the trees form a grove.
- The proposed Armenian Genocide Memorial, proposed for construction near Boston’s North End on the Greenway. A labyrinth? Really?
- Flat, graphic designs as a substitute for spatial volumes with permeable enclosure.
- The idea of letting the Greenway grow in and develop a character for a period of several years before adding buildings to it.
- London Plane trees moved bare-root last summer.
- This summer’s ISA Conference and Trade Show in Chicago.
- This summer’s ASLA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
- Priceline.com, or the other one that isn’t priceline but also isn’t as easy to remember. (Afterthought: quikbook.com is worth a try too.)
- Toby’s web site.
- The Parsley. Not long ago, she posted a couple of really smart landscape architectural reviews of Chicago’s Millenium Park. She wrote not only about the Iconic Big Moves (the Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, the Lurie Garden, the Crown Fountain), but also about the less glamorous but important issues of circulation, edge-making, enclosure, detailing, sight lines, and wayfinding. In the opinion of the one of us who’s been there, she nailed it.
- College reunions.
- Older parent/family issues.
- High school reunions.
- Labyrinths, cathedrals, pilgrimages, and minotaurs.
- Baby garter snakes and fledgling mockingbirds.
- Design strategies for linking the North End Parks on the RK Greenway with the southbound Surface Road — street-theatre-promoting terraces and broad steps could add charm, access, and character to a peculiarly bulwarklike edge.
- The enormous effort involved in designing tree plantings for the Greenway given its intensely utility-rich subgrade conditions.
- The pros and cons of prefab tree boxes.
- The merits and hazards of being quoted by reporters.
- Permeable pavement, and when it isn’t.
- Silver Lake in Wilmington, MA, its role as the headwaters of the Ipswich River, and what’s being done to make its watershed work better.
- A huge multi-stemmed Ilex opaca — 50′ tall — in Wilmington.
- Walden Pond’s water level this year (very high, due to heavy spring rains).
- The LID Center and its building on decades-worth of knowledge and experience (Ian McHarg and Design With Nature, Andropogon, etc.)
- Bing birdseye photos as a useful way to see a site online.
- Garden Design magazine as an advertising delivery system (but not ours).
- Fine Gardening magazine.
- Subtext in garden design magazines.
- The New York Times‘s increasingly goofy treatment of landscape and horticulture, including their astonishing discovery of the tree lawn, aka the “parkway” (Illinois) or “verge” (Britain).
- CEUs for Connecticut and New York landscape architects.
- What grows in the shade of a Norway maple and what will grow in the same place after it’s gone — in reality and in metaphor. Massachusetts had severe and blustery thunderstorms this past Sunday, and hundreds of trees came down around the Commonwealth. I had three calls about downed trees the next day.
- Avant Gardens in North Dartmouth, MA.
- Sylvan Nursery in Westport, MA.
- Lobster rolls, eggplant fries, and strawberry rhubarb pie at The Bayside in Westport, MA.
- Bacterial counts.
- Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
- The possibility of designing a series of wooden stairs to run down a slope dominated by a client’s ancient and beloved Sugar Maple, rather than installing stone steps that might damage its roots.
- Native plants for parking lots.
- Volunteer barberries.
- Stone walls.
Truly. One conversation.