The first branches I've brought in this winter are from a Quince I planted in the back garden three seasons ago for just this purpose. To me, Quince are the most Cherished and sentimental to the woody florals for forcing. It only took three days before life activity became apparent as the buds started to swell but it was probably two and a half to three weeks before they bloomed. The blooms have given me a solid week of peak performance but are in decline now and will soon be sent to the compost pile. I will try to find some VanHouteii Spiraea nearby to take a few branches from and maybe a Forsythia (boring) or Crabapple.
Plant Identification Exercise
Following a similar path as the branch forcing, I have also expanded slowly into bring in non-flowering woody branches so that I can spend some time with them. I say "spend time with them" as I need to practice my winter branch identification. Winter branch identification is part of the core identity of a hort geek. Twenty years ago I was a star with it but as I just learned at a recent conference, my skills have declined. I am not really worried about it; "In The Field" I feel quite confident I will identity pretty much any ornamental plant you put 100 feet in front of me - I think I identify mostly by form, texture, and structure at this point (how I engage them in the field as a designer) and not so much by scale patterns, leaf scars, and bud location. But. My street cred must be maintained.
Books In My Bag Today
Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the "Spirit" of Capitalism. Penguin, NYC, 2002 Spirn, Anne Whiston. The Language of Landscape. Yale, New Haven, 1998 Gay, Roxanne. Bad Feminist. Corsair, 2014
Roxanne has become the voice I spend my early morning with as I drink my coffee. I have written about this in my other blog project, but her work has very much influenced my own voice as a writer. Sprin, I am just beginning this book. I take it to be part of the canon in landscape Architecture. It is worthwhile in small bits and pieces, I don't like to sit down with it for long durations - Just, I think I want to read a voice that feels more like Roxanne Gay's at this point. Spirn's work I take to be much like my own in that it is informed by Critical and Literary Theory. Spirn is writing about the "poetics of landscape." The Weber is an old classic. I grabbed it along with a more contemporary essay that questions the traditional translation of "The Iron Cage" of capitalist rationalization - argues a better rendering is "The Steel Casing." The metaphor of the human encased in a steel casing, one that is the animating force of the body's meat...sometimes one just needs to go and review texts to help their imagination.
I am always fascinated by the concept of Aldi as a garden and floral supplier. I imagine in another month they will be rolling out the seasonal supply of bare root Roses and #2 container Japanese Maples. It is so curious to me that I always find myself wanting to experiment. Their flowers tend to be the worst. However, very inexpensive, which always makes for a soft spot in my heart and so I want to "find a way" we can work together. For months, warm colors have been everything to me, so these yellow and gold collections of mums caught me. I don't want to write an entire critique of commodity flowers here, but...the Primary Yellow is fascinating. And...the branches are so perfectly straight that when you put them in a vessel, they're just, straight. It is striking to me as I know plants from the garden and from "nature" and these very orderly units are so confusing to everything I know. But they were $3.99 and they'll probably NEVER DIE. I'll keep working.
There isn't enough winter, at least in our business. I took a break for 5 weeks and did a fellowship in Toronto. I was back in the office, with Alyssa, January 21st. I spend a week reordering my living space, tearing down and reassembling the office and studio, and sorted through all our 20 year deep archives to clear out everything everywhere that wasn't needed. I needed to get lighter. The 2019 books and insurances were self audited and the sent out to the accountants and all the "2019s" were archived. I review, revise, meet, and present plans and budgets for 2020 with our major maintenance accounts and supporters, and then start visiting and writing our 2020 care plans for our residential clients. I have been putting a collaborative construction project together with friends at Olsen Design involving a fence, driveway, and garden. I have a list of five or six projects that last year agreed to make 2020 projects to still get up on the drafting table and now I have had two new clients call me this week to help them get design and build projects going. Its easy, in a sense, its just all this space you anticipate in the winter to allow you to get things done - well, March starts tomorrow; space over.