Friday, November 16, 2012

Native Materials Used in the Landscape

Monday I wrote about travelling to Santa Fe, New Mexico and being really taken with the landscape and use of native materials. While walking around the downtown area I saw a variety of ways they use native materials. When we first got there we walked to a restaurant and I saw a trash enclosure made of tree limbs or small trunks. Over the next few days I saw this used for actual fencing as well.

Using native materials for fencing, much more attractive than chain link.

I realize that here in the northwest using wood like this for screening wouldn't last long with the wet, but we use treated planks so why not use a raw version? This fence offered texture and warmth to the paved areas and it also created some great patterns along the walk. 

Here's another example of the wood fencing, plus a drainage ditch made of stone. These features look like they belong in the nearby river bed landscape.

Retaining wall at Museum Hill

The first time I saw red rock like this used in retaining walls was at Zion National Park. So I know this is not unique to Santa Fe, but that beautiful color really stands out. Here in the Portland Metro area we use a lot of gray Camas rock for facades and walls. I think it would look even better to use native plants with it that compliment the local colors.

Planter, seat wall, and walkway at Museum Hill

I liked this combination of the stone wall, colored cement wall, and paving. The planters were full of  yellows, greens, and reds. It looked natural and colorful, even in October. To me these items all identify as being southwestern.  I would love to see more use of native materials here that identify us as part of the northwest.

Maybe it's easier in the south, because the climate allows for being outdoors. People want to sit on those walls and spend time in that plaza. While we have a short window of dry weather here.The rest of the time we are dashing from our cars to the nearest (uncovered) entrance. I think it would be great to have more transition spaces so that we could go from rain, to covered and landscaped walkway, then inside.

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