Monday, April 15, 2024

Logs in the urban landscape

Every time I drive by this log-filled hellstrip I think "I really need to stop and take photos" but I'm usually headed home and don't have the time.
However, one cloudy afternoon last week I made the time. Unfortunately the view from my car is my favorite, and since capturing that view would mean standing in the middle of a street with a blind curve, well, you're not going to get to see it.

Instead you'll see it from the sidewalk.

I can't tell if these trees were felled on site, or if they came in from elsewhere.

They're used in many interesting ways though, and there are rocks adding to the upscale look of things. I hadn't seen the rocks from my car.

Briefly stepping out into the street so you can see the border of rounds and upright sections.

I love the woven sidewalk border and wonder if there are more plants on the way, or if this is the finished look.

Mud and a rock base make the end piece solid.

The stacked rock wall on the other side of the sidewall is pretty sweet too.

Another quick street-side view...

And just a couple more from the sidewalk...

I'm curious what this purpose-built niche is for. I'll have to keep an eye on it.
From the street I hadn't noticed the property's twig fence.

They're obviously reusing/repurposing every part of a few trees here...

It's a corner property and the other hellstrip is filled with a mounding conifer, edged with rocks.

Looking up at the home, which based on the two address plaques I saw must be a duplex.

Oh ya... now THAT is a wreath. Damn. I hadn't noticed that before.

A fitting adornment for over the large wooden door at the top of those grand stairs.

Last photo at this location...

And now were at another spot I drive by fairly regularly, a much smaller lot/home that is also repurposing cut sections of trees in their urban garden and hellstrip.

This one is perfect for planting up...

Hellstrip pathways...

It's a bit austere, hopefully more plants are on the way. 

I wonder if this (and the others) is a result of trees that came down during the January storm we had? So many trees fell with the wind and the ice. 

Plant that stump!

This log-scape is on a super-wide median in NE Portland. It's also home to a linear arboretum.

Each block of the median is very different, depending on the style and desires of the homes that border it and the people who tend to it.

My very small and very unscientific study tells me people are doing more to let trees naturally decompose on site and maybe provide habitat in the process. These examples are of people really making it happen in a big way, but I'm seeing it in smaller ways too. Heck even when I built my table planting on the stock tank I used branches and stumps that I'd cut here in my own garden. 

I'll wrap up with a screenshot from my friend Grace Hensley's Instagram. She'd asked to be reminded of the name of the guy who stacks logs decoratively, check out Nigel Dunnett's Instagram feed if you aren't familiar with him.

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  1. Very interesting.

    Yes, the stump with the bit cut out is dying for something to be planted in it!

    1. I want to say ferns, but then it's out in the direct sunlight so maybe not. I'll be watching it!

  2. Something of a garden mystery, at least with respect to the first (duplex) property. That's a LOT of logs if they were harvested onsite. Maybe a property associated with the owners somewhere else was cleared and the logs were retained with reuse in mind? I regret that I didn't keep some of the logs when the huge Eucalyptus in our garden was cut down (at the behest of a former neighbor that complained the tree blocked her view). I did keep a few chunks of another tree when it died, which currently serve to support potted plants. I love the huge wreath and the twig fence - the overall effect, along with the logs and the stone, has a storybook quality about it.

    1. Oh yes, storybook is a good word for it. I wonder if Hansel and Gretel might visit?

  3. After seeing the first photo, I was pleasantly surprised, the first house is really nice. Also, is the door a flat plane like most doors or does it curve out?
    I do worry about the logs falling (or being pushed by vandals) onto the street where someone driving at night could collide with them. The vertical logs especially, will eventually rot at the base.

    1. The door looks like it curves a bit, good eye. I wanted to march up there and look closer but I did not. Sad that we have to think about what those up to no good might decide to do with someone else's landscape...

    2. I noticed that too, front door with a radius, very rare! Keep Portland weird!

  4. I'm drawn to the variety of ways in which logs are being used, both on grand scale and tiny. The first home's hellstrip seems established and weathered, and although I'd be tempted to add more plants, it doesn't seem to be a landscape in transition, like the next home. Oh and how I wish I could enjoy a super-wide median in front of my home!
    These days, I'm reluctant to toss any log or mossy branch into the reclining bin. It makes me happy to find a place for it in the garden and wait for nature to claim it in her own time.

    1. The first one is a fairly new installation, although I'd be hard pressed to remember exactly when I saw it for first time. I hauled home a couple of mossy branches after our January storm, they were too good to just leave! (in a park pile of debris)

  5. Love the moss on the logs. The first set of photos has a very PNW appeal. We use our prunings to make improvised wattle-like fences as windbreaks. Works really well and are good for the insects as well.

    1. I love the wattle fences, they look like a lot of work!

  6. Jeanne DeBenedetti KeyesApril 16, 2024

    I like to use logs in a natural landscape, particularly if the logs came off my property. Reuse, recycle. Yes, all of these "stumperies" need a ton of plants to look "natural". I like the rocks. Not so sure of the design of the rounds in the first garden/yardscape. But that is personal opinon.

    1. I love the rounds up on their side in the first garden, and I am hoping there are more plants to come...

  7. Thank you for risking your life so we could enjoy this. I'd love to see whoever it is working on the mud base or any of it for that matter. The stacked rock is lovely as well. The other house looks cool, a work in progress. Love those huge medians.

  8. Lots of ideas there. Our logs are gigantic though, and a big pain to move to where I want them. They also quickly become a home for termites, so I am reluctant to have them near the house, though sometimes we don't have a choice. Their house, with the turret and the wreath, reminds me of a modern twist on an old witch's castle out in the woods. As you said, very Hansel and Gretel.


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