Plants are valuable agents in the landscape. Their ability to move, change, grow and adapt makes them key players in issues of urbanization. Yet our treatment of them in the urban landscape often aims at preventing this. Plants are often subject to what we find visually appealing and often pushed to the background. Spontaneous urban plant communities are an exception to this. Largely comprised of introduced ‘undesirable’ species they push boundary’s between aesthetics, disorder, and ecology. Humans are deeply interwoven within natural processes and our inability to see ourselves as incorporated in these systems has, in part, led us to where we are today.

This project tries to establish new human-plant relationships through the establishment of more passive management techniques throughout everyday spaces. These are the spaces people often have the most interaction with plant life and can be considered the front line into creating cultural change around ideals of aesthetics. It looks at the benefits of allowing variable, unpredictable plant communities in these spaces, and different uses and activities they could offer, creating more interconnected dynamic communities.

cynthia girling

Succession is generally an unpredictable process. The rate and stages of which depends on many different factors. Much of what is done in conventional landscape maintenance aims at preventing these processes. Working within it and creating a range of these states across the urban landscape would provide the full range of benefits and create stepping stones for animals, birds, and other materials and processes to move through.

Plants change and move, and it is generally unpredictable. In the new management program this is to be encouraged. This has been translated into the diagram above where there are multiple ways to intervene, or, that is, for the human to collaborate with plant communities with more passive management strategies that could have numerous possible outcomes.

The bottom flowchart for the new management program. Starting with a general landscape typology they indicate possible management interventions to amend the site. They are by no means comprehensive or leading to a finished product.

Phase 3, 20 years into the program takes place in the front and backyards of citizens themselves. What these places look like are a direct reflection of the person themselves and of our collective values. Though often treated like little boxes they are in reality all connected.

In this phase people are more accepting of the aesthetic and type of plant life. The linear nature of the previous phase causes them to act as linear seed banks, spreading into yards. Slowly households begin to sign up for the program as this look and the management supporting it becomes the new cue of good citizenship to anyone passing by.