On E. Burnside Street in Portland, the construction of the Burnside-Couch Couplet, a project aimed at ‘humanizing’ the wide arterial that slices through Portland and provides the dividing line between North and South. Construction is ongoing, and as part of the design, the streets on both sides of the couplet have a number of green street planters. As I was moving into my new office, I couldn’t help but notice a new ‘planting’ scheme on the Burnside planters – predominately populated with a mixture of weedy pioneering vegetation.
The jute netting and wood (??) weirs have been in for some time – prepped for planting and keeping erosion at bay. The late summer of sun and moisture have allowed for perfect conditions for weeds to germinate in pockets of wet ground, making for a lush green tapestry that is starting to overtake many of the curb extensions – most probably from weeds carried from car tires and deposited in the planters.
It would be interested to see if the general public noticed the difference between these ‘feral’ varieties compared to many of the specifically planted varieties (which at times look somewhat messy themselves) – or more likely what do business owners think? Will the weeds persist after planting? Will hand removal be adequate to keep these down once the planting is completed? How much money could we save with treatment of stormwater facilities as early successional ecosystems recently impacted with disturbance? Would this vegetation work better or worst than the monocultural rushes that have seemed to become the mainstay of storm facilities? I’m kind of hoping they just leave them as some form of radical urban ecosystem experiment – followed by soil only ecoroofs that are left to colonize via birds and wind.
Not sure what the delay in planting actually is – as the heat of summer is over and we’ve now hit a good part of the season for planting sans irrigation. Another month and these will be bursting and lush with weedy varieties. Some of the newer ones have yet to be overtaken, as seen in a view of one of the pristine sections – ready for colonization.
(all images (c) Jason King -Landscape+Urbanism)