All posts by Julle

Urban Herbs – Chives
ChivesUrban chives growing on a rock

Urban Herbs – Chives

Just found chives growing and flowering on a rock nearby. It doesn’t seem to need all that much soil. Wikipedia tells us that in addition to spicing up foods, chives can be used in pest control. Apparently the sulfur compounds in chives are repulsive to insects, although the flowers still attract bees. A solid choice for a balcony garden, then?

My Wasteland Table

My Wasteland Table is a small bit of refreshing ruderal landscape for your patio or balcony. The table top is made of asphalt and steel rebars sourced from a local urban redevelopment area. The materials are cleaned up and seeds of local wild plants are planted in the cracks in the asphalt.

With the redevelopment of ruderal areas, cities sometimes become a bit sterile. In many cities the most interesting urban nature can actually be found in ruderal landscapes. These areas are also home for many important plants, some of them even endangered. Even the very small plants growing through the cracks in the pavement can be very interesting to look at. One has to wonder how well plants adapt to different harsh conditions, such as having a minimal amount of soil.

With the My Wasteland Table, you can bring home some interesting ruderal plants. As the plants are already adapted to surviving in the area, they need minimal care and attention. Just sit back, relax and enjoy!

Jätkäsaari – Waiting For The Green

Jätkäsaari is a 100 hectare (250 acre) new neighbourhood in Helsinki, Finland. In the area that used to be the Western port of Helsinki, the construction of a 18 000 resident, 6 000 workplace new urban neighborhood is currently on the way. Thousands of people already live in Jätkäsaari, but the green areas and green elements in the public spaces are conspicuously absent.

Jätkäsaari will eventually get 20 hectares (490 acres) of public parks, including a large central park. But right now most of it is just a dusty fields reminiscent of Wild West imagery. Even the children’s playground is covered in rubber rather than anything living. When a large new area like Jätkäsaari is built in phases, the new residents often have to live years without proper green areas, surrounded by construction sites. In the Finnish urban development culture, the parks are usually built last, after the streets and buildings. That is because the city (that is responsible for building the parks) wants to gather a maximum amount of funds from the land sales before the construction of the recreational areas.

I like the relatively high urban density of the area but I really think there should be a much higher density of green spaces and structures as well. Bicycling around Jätkäsaari I could not help wondering if a bit more could be done to add green elements and spaces to the urban structure. Maybe the parks could be built in smaller phases? Why could there not be more trees on the streets and squares? Maybe small, movable green elements such as the ones featured on Nature Cots could be installed in public and private spaces?

Fortunately most of the block courtyards are quite green with vegetation since the car parking is mostly below grade. And there are a couple of trees and small vines on the streets as well. So at least the residents have some green spaces to resort to. But for the first residents the wait for the public green spaces has really been ruthlessly long. Let’s hope the city of Helsinki will speed up the construction of the green layer, add intensity to it and make Jätkäsaari become truly alive!

Permaculture Cone – Spiral Planter
Permaculture Cone

Permaculture Cone – Spiral Planter

The Permaculture Cone has a spiralling design that creates a wide range of different conditions ideal for different plants. The top of the spiral is optimal for plants that like sun and cope with relatively dry soil. On the bottom parts there are spots for plants that thrive in shade and moisture. The cone can be watered at the top and gravity takes care of moving the water down. The cone is made of thin sheets of stainless steel and is very light considering the volume and the large area of the plantable soil surface.

Update: The Movable Bilberry Pad – First Modules Ready

The first modules of The Movable Bilberry Pad are now ready. The Siberian larch container modules were planted with wild bilberries, lingonberries, crowberries and some other forest floor plants such as mosses and calluna.

Thank you for our sponsors Messupuu and Piiraisen Viherpalvelu and the project supporters Kone Foundation and the Finnish Cultural Foundation!

Building With Sun, Water and Air – Hiroshi Sambuichi Interview

Architect Hiroshi Sambuichi has designed an interesting underground installation called ‘The Water’ at the Cisterns in Copenhagen, Denmark. Sambuichi talks about bringing out the natural beauty of the place. ”I want people to understand that they live in beautiful places”. The installation is certainly ethereal and features, among others, a small moss covered island that bathes in natural light amidst the darkness of the Cisterns.

Santalaia – 9 Story Residential Building Wrapped in Green

This nine story apartment building in Bogotá, Columbia is clad almost entirely in beautiful green walls. The large project is a collaboration between builder and designer Exacta Proyecto Total, Paisajismo Urbano and Groncol. In a dense area like this, I would imagine also the neighbours to be delighted about the green walls. The whole system is pretty impressive and the video is very informative about the benefits of the living walls.

Vuosaarenhuippu – Man Made Wilderness

Vuosaarenhuippu hill in eastern Helsinki is an ecologically interesting destination. The 65 meter high hill used to be a dumping ground for construction waste until the late ’80s.  During the ’90s and early ’00s the area was converted into a wild fell-like recreational area. Today the hill has an impressive wealth of flora and fauna. There are currently over 400 species of plants, some of which are endangered. Also many wild animals such as fox, moose, viper, short-toed snake eagle and even lynx have been seen on the site.

Because of the dumping ground history the hill has metering, collection and treatment systems for potential gas and leakage emissions. The area works also as a refuge for doomed plants: many plants have been moved there from urban development areas around Helsinki. Also some land masses are still brought in from these areas. The seeds in these land masses are expected to further strengthen the biodiversity on the site.

Today the place still looks like a man made mound with lots of rocks, transplanted stumps, deadwood and other seemingly out of place quirks. But it is interesting to witness the biodiversity and to see how nature is really reclaiming the area.

Update: Movable Bilberry Pad – The Heath Has Arrived!

The heath forest floor transplant that we will use for the Movable Bilberry Pad has arrived! Piiraisen Viherpalvelu delivered and installed the transplant swiftly. The forest floor transplant is shipped in a 2 m (6 ft) wide roll that contains 5 meters (16 ft) of heath ”carpet”. The transplant contains bilberry and lingonberry shrubs, various mosses, heather, crowberry and some other forest floor plants. For our installation we received 20 m2 of transplant that will be watered and cared for during the summer. In the fall we will move the healthiest plants to movable containers and take them to Maijala service center for the elderly in Kangasala.

Thanks a lot for our sponsors Piiraisen Viherpalvelu and Messupuu and supporters Kone Foundation and The Finnish Culture Foundation!