Posts Tagged ‘city’

High winds are prevailing in southern California and the Central Coast, reports my mother in her first, eyewitness contribution to Urban Plant Research. In Santa Barbara County, she can hardly venture outside because of winds over 25 miles per hour. She also read that over in Victorville, which lies between Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert, the wind has residents trapped inside for another reason: it has swept mountains of tumbleweeds against their houses, blocking doors and windows! Check out these Google Image search results she sent over:

Screenshot of Google Image search results for "victorville ca + tumbleweed". Each photo in the search results shows high piles of tumbleweeds in the town streets or against houses.

We here at Urban Plant Research have long been interested in tumbleweeds and urban tumbleweeds (tumbling, windblown plastic bags). Are their tumbleweeds where you live?

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Marina District

West Portal



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Sausage-like fruits hanging from the sausage tree at the UH Manoa campus/arboretum.

Sausage tree.

Towering tropical trees, from ulu (breadfruit) to rainbow shower, amaze me every time I visit the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus here in Honolulu. “It’s like a botanical garden,” I was just saying yesterday. Today, the local newspaper announced that the campus has just received international accreditation as an arboretum: one of only 135 in the world!


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Outdoor bronze bust of Queen Luise decorated with berries and seeds.

A report from Berlin, the former headquarters of Urban Plant Research. While I’ve been busy getting oriented amongst the tropical flora of Hawaii, my friend Dorothee of Lilienfeld sent in this report from the grounds of Schloss Charlottenburg. She found the station of Queen Luise thus decorated. She notes that the pearl earrings are made of snowberries. These are also known as “Knallerbsen,” the German term for the small novelty explosives now in English as bang-snaps or poppers. Was it the Queen’s birthday? Or did the fall abundance of horse chestnuts and berries inspire an impromptu decorating session? I don’t know, but I am charmed.

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Small plant growing out of crack in a driveway under a boom barrier in Berlin-Mitte.

At the Ewerk, an electrical substation turned techno club turned upscale event location in Berlin-Mitte, Martin Hill found this plant playing bouncer in the driveway, right below the red-and-white striped barrier. Thank you, Martin!

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View from above of a green, fern-filled courtyard garden

It was at an edible urban plants walk (led by artist Karola Schlegelmilch seven years ago) that I first met Deborah S. Phillips, an artist based in Berlin-Neukölln. Since then our paths have crossed regularly; we seem to share a lot of different interests besides plants, such as visual art and translation. After attending our plant discussion in Lichtenberg, Deborah sent this photo of her courtyard, which she’s been caring for. More about that and many other things on her blog: http://deborahsp.wordpress.com

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We made our first urban plant expedition in Lichtenberg today. Yesterday, Sara and I moved into the Lichtenberg Studios in Berlin where we are in residence this week. Our first order of business today was to explore the neighborhood on foot and see what kind of plants, parks, flower shops, green spaces and other urban nature we might find. Here are some of the things we saw, smelled, observed, tasted…


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We have news! In a few weeks, Sara will be traveling from New York to join me for a mini artist residency at Berlin’s Lichtenberg Studios. For one week, we will be exploring the urban plants and people of Lichtenberg, one of the city’s quieter, more old-school districts where the East Berlin atmosphere still lingers.

We warmly invite you to join us on the evening of May 23…  (more…)

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Basket of wild garlic (Bärlauch) leaves on forest floor

Since spring is so early this year in Berlin, the Bärlauch (wild garlic) is already at the height of its season here. We went foraging yesterday at the Volkspark Pankow. Some Bärlauch tips I’ve posted earlier:

What spring vegetables and fruits are coming in season where you are? What are you foraging?

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Pages from book with photos of lakes and parks Pages from book with photos of runways and parks

In one summer, William Niendorff photographed more than 80 of Berlin’s larger parks and green spaces, from former airfields to lakeside idylls. You might remember seeing his photos here at UPR or on his blog, Planting Art. Now hundreds of his images from Summer 2013 have come together in his new book, Berlin Green Places, which you can view in its entirety online. Enjoy!

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