Photos

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?

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!

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!

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!

The Bobbing Forest in Rotterdam

In Rotterdam we saw this fabulous Bobbing Forest installation by the Dutch artist Jorge Bakker. The installation consists of floating buoys that have live trees planted in them. In the winds and waves of the Rijnhaven bay, the trees bob and sway around beautifully. The Bobbing Forest creates an interesting, new type of forest close to a very concrete-jungle part of Rotterdam. Kudos for the people who have made this happen!

The Portable Farm – Planting

The first phase of planting for the Portable Farm was carried out successfully. The brisk residents of the Maijala service center in Kangasala planted the seedlings of useful plants and flowers very quickly. The weather was a bit cold, but let’s hope at least some of the plants will survive and prosper! We also planted a family apple tree that has branches from 4 different apple varieties. We’ll see if we get proper harvest already this year.

Big Thanks for Messupuu and Piiraisen Viherpalvelu for the very generous sponsorship and for Kone Foundation and The Finnish Culture Foundation for funding the work!

Getting Ready for Planting

The spring has been really cold in Finland but finally it’s getting a tad warmer. We are preparing to plant the first phase of the Movable Bilberry Pad project with the residents of Maijala service center in Kangasala. The project is funded by Kone Foundation & the Finnish Cultural Fund and very generously sponsored by Messupuu and Piiraisen Viherpalvelu. A Big Thank you to all of them for making this project possible!