Category Archives: the built environment

Parc de Buttes Chaumont

Paris has many beautiful parks and gardens.

A couple of years ago, we took a week in May to visit Paris and London.  No trip would be complete without outdoor time — which often includes a park, arboretum or garden.  On this trip, we took a Metro ride to the 19th arondissement, to the Parc de Buttes Chaumont.

It was lovely — a mix of things to see and spaces to explore. Some manicured, some wild. Despite its large scale, each spot still felt small and intimate enough to enjoy.

Worth a visit!



Okay, just in case you think this is all about putting a bunch of stuff in the ground and seeing what happens, it’s not.  It’s not about digging in the dirt, buying a carload of annuals from the garden center (inspired by those ads that promise “lots of color!”), or adding everything you see or want.

It’s about design.

Well, yeah

It’s what makes this fun – or a big part of it. What other creative endeavor grows and changes with time?  How the planting relates to the structures around it — and the ways in which you use the space — makes it even more interesting.

San Francisco

I’m traveling on business to San Francisco this week, quite fortuitously avoiding the East Coast blizzard of 2015.

It’s been several years since I’d last been here, so I took a walk to clear my head and get a little bit of fresh air.  It’s struck me how a city can look so different each time you visit, whether it’s a place you’ve known for years or have only visited a couple of times.  The paths and edges you remember may have been completely transformed, or is it one’s perspective that has changed?  In any event, it reminded me of one of my first undergraduate reading assignments, Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City.

What does this have to do with gardening, you might ask? Our built environment is an interconnected whole — indoors and outdoors blur, intentionally or not.  Urban, suburban or rural, the landscape is just one element of the fabric of our environment. We move through these spaces and interact in them, and with them.  How many other elements can you spot?