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Urban pollinator, Railtown Studios Green Roof, Vancouver

Northern Garry oak ecosystems: Landscape ecology analyses for biodiversity conservation planning

gordon-brent-ingram-2009-work-on-conservation-of-northern-garry-oak-ecosystems

Much of my work as an environmental planner and designer has involved conservation and recovery of sensitive ecosystems and an underlying exploration of the relevance of the field of landscape ecology. The group of ecological communities and landscapes with which I have worked for the longest period, going back to my childhood and the land on which I grew up, are northern Garry oak, Quercus garryana, ecosystems in south-western British Columbia. Ecosystems with significant presence of Garry oak are typically shaped by summer drought and relatively mild temperatures and extend from the northern edge of the Los Angeles Basin to Savary Island at the northern end of the Straight of Georgia. In much of the southern half of its range, south of north-western California, Garry oak grow more as a shrub in fire-dependent, chaparral ecosystems, often with related oak species. Similarly, the northern half of the range of Garry oak, where it is the only naturally occurring Quercus species, is often described as part of fire-dependent or fire-resilient ecosystems. And the label Garry oak ecosystems are often used for the deciduous savannah and woodland portion of the gradient between Douglas fir forest and parkland and grassland bluffs and balds.  Occurring in Olympia and northward, northern Garry oak ecosystems are those that have been shaped by the end of the last Ice Age, the creation of island ecosystems, and the subsequent Hypsithermal period of temperatures that were higher than today’s climate. For at least as far back as the Hypsithermal, of five millennia ago, there has been wildfire compounded by burning by human beings. And virtually all of today’s northern Garry oak ecosystems in British Columbia saw Salish burning, combined with intensive digging and harvesting, as recently as the late nineteenth century and sometimes later.

Nanoose Hill above the the naval base near Nanaimo has one of the larger remaining landscape mosaics of Northern Garry oak ecosystems. Like many of the larger remaining mosaic, Nanoose has largest infestations of invasive plants, notably broom, Cytisus scoparius.

The Tsawout Nation’s ‘Belly-Rising-Up’ is a small hill with Garry oak and camas with a remarkable array of traditional Salish food plants. Protecting and maintaining jurisdiction over the site was also of crucial concern for the Tsawout in one of the first and old treaties with the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island in the early 1850s.

In recent decades, there have been a number of initiatives to conserve northern Garry oak ecosystems. Today because of inadequate research and political resolve there are at least one hundred very rare species, often under risk of extirpation or even extinction, associated with the drier woodlands and grasslands of the islands of the Georgia Strait of British Columbia. One of the weaknesses of the more recent ecosystem recovery goals and programmes have been the poor appreciation for landscape ecology and broader questions of disturbance (and stability) processes across landscapes – in relatively small, shifting islands often on marine islands. Understandings of shifting edges and fragments over time, and in the context of climate change, will be crucial to more successful conservation strategies especially for specific species at risk and their habitats.

Northern Garry oak ecosystems are also cultural landscapes, shaped for food production, where the largely Salish-speaking aboriginal communities remain marginalized and largely ignored in contemporary ecosystem recovery discussions – even where a growing number of legal precedents require consultations. Crucial Garry oak lands on Indian Reserves, that not so long ago where burned until local governments suppressed such traditional activities, remain removed from serious consideration. And of course, landscape ecology, that more than any other environmental science recognizes the human impacts on most ecosystems on earth can help us understand how to live with these dynamic mosaics in very uncertain times.

Over the last three decades, I have contributed to assessments, management documents, and conservation plans for more than a score of landscapes with Garry oak ecosystems. Much of my inspiration has come from learning from one of the largest remaining dynamic mosaics of northern Garry ecosystems on the south-western slopes of Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring Island – an area that I begin to visit in 1978. Other landscapes with northern Garry oak ecosystems, in which I have worked, have been largely obliterated since I began these studies in my teens – and this fact has created a great deal of pain. While I have done much work in temperate and tropical rainforest, the conceptual challenges of respecting and maintaining these dynamic mosaics remain the most interesting – and ‘feels like home’.

A large portion of the images in this posting are from a portion of the Ecological Reserve on the western slope of Mount Maxwell. With fragmentation from urbanization and suburbanization, this slope is one of the last, large remaining ‘dynamic mosaics’ of northern Garry oak ecosystems — especially on an island in Canada.

Since commencing field work on Mount Maxwell in the spring of 1978, I have seen the ecosystems of this landscape shift with the continued suppression of fire (though there was a 7 hectare wildfire in June 2009 in the upper central part of this scene), the decline in feral sheep, the decline in native predators, and the expansion of invasive plants especially Scotch Broom. In comparing the two scenes below (from 1975 and 2001), roughly a quarter a century apart, the shift from oak savannah and grassland, which was in part the legacy of aboriginal burning that continued into the early twentieth century, to oak woodland with some invasion of Douglas fir is most obvious.

Also note the number of ‘white’, dead Dougas fir trees, some of which are large, old snags the products the vestigial Douglas fir parkland. However many of these dead trees appear to have been established in the period since aboriginal burning was suppressed and may also have been vulnerable to higher overall summer temperatures associated with climate change.

scholarly publications
This material is available as PDF files through www.gordonbrentingram.ca/scholarship .

Ingram, G. B. 2007. Unresolved legacies & contested futures: Aboriginal food production landscapes, ecosystem recovery strategies and land use planning for conservation of the Garry oak ecosystems in south-western British Columbia. Undercurrents (issue on Planning, Culture and Space) 16: 15 - 19.

Ingram & Lindsay Upshaw.  2005. Gap analysis in conservation planning for cultural & less culturally modified landscapes: Prospects for northern Garry oak ecosystems in British Columbia, Monitoring the Effectiveness of Biological Conservation, Vancouver. Forrex Journal, British Columbia.

Ingram & Lindsay Upshaw. 2004. Setting goals and priorities for restoration strategies in the context of disparate historical interpretations: An example from the Garry oak and Douglas fir mosaic of Mount Maxwell, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Proceedings of the16th International Conference, Society for Ecological Restoration, Victoria, Canada. Victoria: Society for Ecological Restoration and the University of Victoria.

Ingram, G. B. in press. Fields or forest? Aboriginal food production landscapes, unresolved legacies and contemporary ecosystem management of Garry oak woodlands in southwestern British Columbia. in Forest and Environmental History of the British Empire and Commonwealth. London: Oxford University Press.

Ingram, G. B. 2002. Thinking like a dynamic mosaic: The relevance of landscape ecology to setting goals for biodiversity conservation & restoration for northern Garry oak ecosystems. Conference Proceedings: Restoring Garry Oak Ecosystems – Progress and Prognosis, University of Victoria April 2002, 96 – 108.

Ingram, G. B. 2002. Thinking like a dynamic mosaic: Towards a strategy for conserving northern Garry oak ecosystems  * part 1. Menziesia (Journal of the British Columbia Native Plant Society). 7 (1): 8 – 11.

Ingram, G. B. 2002. Thinking like a dynamic mosaic: Conservation planning for the plant species at risk in northern Garry oak landscapes in BC, * part 2. Menziesia 7 (2): 8 - 12.

Ingram, G. B. 2000. The implications of landscape ecology for conserving the biological diversity of northern Garry oak, Quercus garryana, ecosystems. in Workingpaper Landskabsøkologiske Skrifter. The Management of Biodiversity from a Landscape Ecological Perspective. Roskilde, Denmark: Roskilde University. 135 - 176.

reports, plans & designs
This material is available as PDF files through www.gordonbrentingram.ca/studiesdesigns .
Ingram, G. B. 2008. Public input - Salt Spring Island Parks and Ecological Reserves Management Planning. submitted to BC Parks, Victoria.

Ingram, G. B. 2002. The Garry oak ecosystems on the southwest face of Mt. Sutil, Galiano Island: Field notes from 2 9 2002 & some recommendations. Report to the Galiano Conservancy Association & Islands Trust.

Ingram, G. B. 2002. Some information needed for making a list of priority areas with currently unprotected Garry oak ecosystems warranting immediate protection — Discussion paper for the Conservation Planning & Site Protection Recovery Action Group of GOERT.

Ingram, G. B. 2001. Analysis of the January 2001 Catalogue of Site Records of the Georgia Basin Ecosystem Partnership for locations of interest for conservation planning under the terms of the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Strategy. Report to GOERT.

Ingram, G. B. 2001. Review of Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee Draft Bylaw 365 Schedule 1 on Conservation of Garry Oak Ecosystems. Submitted to the Salt Spring Island Conservancy.

Ingram, G. B. 2001. Review of the Recovery Strategy for Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems and their Associated Species at Risk in Canada 2001 - 2006. submitted to the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team.

Ingram, G. B. & Allan Lidstone. 2001. A conservation planning process for northern (Canadian) Garry oak ecosystems & associated biodiversity. A discussion paper for the GOERT (Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team) Conservation Planning & Site Protection RAG.

Vagelatos, K. and G. B. Ingram. 1995. Native plants for residential landscapes: Design and management guidelines for southwestern BC.  A Report to the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation of Canada, Ottawa.

Ingram, G. B. 1981. Fragments: Management, protection, and restoration proposals for thirteen ecological reserves in British Columbia, Canada - A report to the Ecological Reserves Committee and Advisory Board and the Ministry of Lands, Parks, and Housing of the Government of the Province of British Columbia, June 1981.

public presentations
This material is available as PDF files through www.gordonbrentingram.ca/scholarship .

Ingram & Lindsay Upshaw.  2004. Gap analysis in conservation planning for cultural & less culturally modified landscapes: Prospects for northern Garry oak ecosystems in British Columbia, Monitoring the Effectiveness of Biological Conservation, Vancouver.

Ingram & Lindsay Upshaw. 2004. Setting goals and priorities for restoration strategies in the context of disparate historical interpretations: An example from the Garry oak and Douglas fir mosaic of Mount Maxwell, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, 16th International Conference, Society for Ecological Restoration, Victoria, Canada.

Ingram. 2004. Historical assessment protocols in setting ecosystem restoration priorities for cultural landscapes: Prospects for the oak woodland and conifer forest mosaics modified by the Salish of Pacific Canada, Faculté des géosciences et de l’environnement, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland.

2003. Fields or forest? Aboriginal food production landscapes, unresolved legacies and contemporary ecosystem management of Garry oak woodlands in southwestern British Columbia. International Conference on the Forest and Environmental History of the British Empire and Commonwealth. University of Sussex, Brighton UK, presented by Richard Grove.

Ingram. 2002. The ecology of Mt. Maxwell & other northern Garry oak landscapes, Salt Spring Island Conservancy, Ganges, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia followed by a field trip on management and restoration.

Ingram. 2001. Environmental planning for biodiversity conservation: Detection of & response to social conflicts in the northern margins of Garry oak, Quercus garryana, ecosystems. Department of Geography and Environment. London School of Economics.

Ingram. 2001. Thinking like a dynamic mosaic: Conservation planning for the northern Garry oak, Quercus garryana, landscapes in British Columbia. The Richmond Natural History Society, Lulu Island, Canada.

Ingram. 1999. The implications of landscape ecology for conserving the biological diversity of northern Garry oak, Quercus garryana, ecosystems. Guest lecture. International PhD Course, The Management of Biodiversity from a Landscape Ecological Perspective, Roskilde University, Denmark.

Ingram.2002. Thinking like a dynamic mosaic: The relevance of landscape ecology to setting goals for biodiversity conservation & restoration for northern Garry oak ecosystems. Conference: Restoring Garry Oak Ecosystems – Progress and Prognosis, University of Victoria.
Ingram and Wayne Erickson. 2000. Revisiting aboriginal burning: Fire to counter encroachment of Garry oak, Quercus garryana, ecosystems in Pacific Canada. A Native Solution to Fire Management Symposium in Hobart, Tasmania. Session theme: Re-establishing local processes. Presented by Grace Nangendo.

Ingram. 1990. The Landscape Ecology of Mt. Maxwell, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Presented as a field trip as part of the May 1990 symposium, Landscape Approaches to Wildlife and Ecosystem Management. The University of British Columbia.

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Crabapple blossoms, Railtown Green Roof, Vancouver

New leaves of rhubarb & an apple tree, Railtown Green Roof, Vancouver

Mughal gardens as seminal landscapes for modernism

The back, river side of the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March,, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The back, river side of the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Modernism was prefigured by the Mughals or, more specifically, in some of the new public space which they created. I first began studying Moghul gardens in the summer of 2000 while advising on the development of a conservation concept for the Salt Range of the north-western Punjab, an area that saw one of India’s first quadrilateral or Charbagh gardens. Built by the first Mughal emperor Babur above Kalar Kahar, Bagh-e Safa functioned as part resting area, part military base (for the care of horses), and part pleasure garden. Today, there is little left beyond a mention in the Baburnama. But as the Mughal Empire rapidly expanded east and south, the Charbagh, originally a Persian garden geometry that efficiently used water to cool public and private spaces revolutionized and came to structure much of the urban space of South Asia. While certain formulaic relationships were shared between the small, early Charbaghs of 16th Century India and built subsequent centuries that were more extensive, this set of garden and architectural approaches created cultural space for an early kind of modernism, a cosmopolitanism that blended aspects of ‘East’ and ‘West’ per local and imperial conditions and needs.

Charbagh schematic drawn in Pakistan in 2004 by Gordon Brent Ingram

Charbagh schematic drawn in Pakistan in 2004 by Gordon Brent Ingram

With a design education from the West Coast of North America, that emphasized early initiatives for sustainability, I have been adverse but occasionally fascinated by obsessively symmetrical designs. I live in a world of short lines and curves. But I have sometimes found that the quadrilateral enclosures, created through the Charbaghs of Moghul gardens, have created powerful places linking disparate ranges of sites, activities, and experiences. And the careful use of water and vegetation, though artificial, prefigured the diverse interpretations of ecological design that have already marked the Twenty-First Century. In these ways, the imperial ambitions that integrated India for a few short centuries prefigured the internationalism of modernism.

Chaatri, Naubat Khana Gate, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Chaatri, Naubat Khana Gate, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Another of my fascinations with Mughal gardens is from the particularly fluid and transgressive notions of inside and outside – approaches in marked contrast with early modernism, the deficiencies of the latter leading to many unliveable ‘internationalist’ buildings. By contrast, Mughal complexes were better designed in terms of site factors and environmental constraints. Much of the urbanism of pre-Western cities was structured by gardens and around flows of water and biota. And most sustainably redesigned cities of the coming decades and centuries will likewise be reconstructed around ecological infrastructure. Mughal ‘gardens’ were part of a highly rational and unified set of geometries, designs, technologies, and aesthetics that carefully utilized and transformed water and cultivated areas into towns and cities in ways far more supple than the town and country dichotomies of Western cities.

Dry water trough, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Dry water trough, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The Charbagh or Char Bagh, as in four gardens, was originally a Persian geometry. By the time Persian garden styles were widely influencing Indian landscape designs in the 16th Century the Charbagh was being used in associations with innovations in the pumping and dispersal of water for both irrigation and cooling. In contrast to the fragmentation of the Charbagh, the maidan is a wide plaza or field whether constructed in stone or of earth that has been trampled and swept. Another architectural concept that was early on articulated in Arabic and then re-interpreted in Persia, the maidan was further adapted to South Asia’s diverse local forms of public outdoor space.

Dusk in the charbagh adjacent to Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Dusk in the charbagh adjacent to Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

While latter Mughal garden complexes were often cultural centres, the early designs, technologies and practices comprised in large part an adaption of the summer, resting and pleasure refuges of the warm temperate zones of Central Asia for the warmer winters, torrid summers and violent monsoons of what is today, north and central India. In what is today, Pakistan and India, the quadrilateral charbagh was built in large part to provide and distribute clean water for horses, humans and garden plants. In Delhi and further south, where it was often too warm for indoor bathing in heated hammam, charbaghs included bathing areas that adapted older South Asian architectures of stepwells and stepped ponds.

Recently restored pumphouse at the Humayun's Tomb complex the circulated and recycled water throughout the gardens, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Recently restored pumphouse at the Humayun's Tomb complex the circulated and recycled water throughout the gardens, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

In the plains of India, charbaghs, as refuges and nascent pleasure gardens, began to have the central function to provide spaces for keeping cool in the hot months. The engineering techniques of various parts of South Asia were utilized to carefully move, monitor and regulate shallow troughs of water from hour-to-hour.

Pool and trough for using, conserving and recycling water in cooling the gardens of the Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 28 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Pool and trough for using, conserving and recycling water in cooling the gardens of the Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 28 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

With Mughal gardens, the other half of the cooling equation was vegetation. Most of the temperature trees of Central Asia, especially coniferous cypress, signifying death, and fruit trees, signifying life, required a great deal of tending especially from Delhi southward. So the Mughal garden complex often functioned to impose signifiers of the warm temperate, semi-arid ecology from where the first generations of Mughals originated to the more humid, subtropical zones of the subcontinent. And the tree species from the north and more arid areas, such as the palm, were planted to accentuate a strong and simple symmetry in contrast to the visually more complex woodlands and jungles of India. While India had many large fragments of forest in the early years of the Mughals, these garden complexes were distinctly removed from local ecosystems with threats such as snakes and large mammals. In contrast, the charbagh functioned as a refuge for birds.

Palms (associated with drier climates) in the garden near Badshahi Mosque viewed from Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan, 15 January 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Palms (associated with drier climates) in the garden near Badshahi Mosque viewed from Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan, 15 January 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

With the Chhatri, the dome-shaped pavilions and canopies of the Mughals, the boundaries of inside and outside, so important to the European world, were further blurred. Central Indian vernaculars, especially from Rajasthan, were worked into these complexes by the time of Humayun, the second Mughal emperor. Less than a century later, larger, square chhatri were being built such as the Diwan-i-Khas in the Fatehpur Sikri.

The celebrated chatri, Diwan-i-Khass, was set within a hard-surfaced maidan at Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The celebrated chatri, Diwan-i-Khass, was set within a hard-surfaced maidan at Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The expanded use and increasingly sophisticated jaali, latticed screens, further subverted Western notions of inside and outside at a time when the cultural exchange with the West was intensifying. Similarly, architectures of verandas, baramada, and covered walkways developed quickly for the heat and monsoons of the plains. And the early democracy of Islamic public space soon saw barriers to the poor and marginal, such as gates, and places for the elite such as towers, minar. And I have yet to decipher the heavily gendered and nuanced, sometimes even heavily eroticized, architectures of Mughal public space.

Jaali in Noulakha Pavilion, Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan, 21 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Jaali in Noulakha Pavilion, Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan, 21 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The emphasis on depiction of Central Asian plants in architectural details, only in part because of the anti-idolatry aversion to imagery of humans and animals, further viewed the inside and outside as many garden complexes and open spaces were being increasingly crowded by urbanisation.

Interior floral detail, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Interior floral detail, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

I often think about the relevance of the charbagh to the city in which I am based: Vancouver, Canada. As temperatures rise and rainfall increases, many of the elements of both the early, Central Asian charbaghs and the vaster complexes built later in India become increasingly relevant. I dream of a few small charbaghs around Vancouver and perhaps even a large, central plaza with a garden and bath-house.

Fragment of a Moghul garden that was modified in the Raj period, Lahore Fort, August 2000, by Gordon Brent Ingram

Fragment of a Moghul garden that was modified in the Raj period, Lahore Fort, August 2000, by Gordon Brent Ingram

Mughal Gardens: Cooling geometries of water, shade & sustainability

Fountain at dusk, Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, Pakistan, 23 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Fountain at dusk, Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, Pakistan, 23 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Perhaps no garden form, at least in recent centuries, functioned as much like a machine — or an organism as the charbagh of India.

Central axis and trough filled with water of the charbagh Humayun's Tomb (viewed from the terrace of the tomb), New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Central axis and trough filled with water of the charbagh Humayun’s Tomb (viewed from the terrace of the tomb), New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Dry trough along the axis of Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Dry trough along the axis of Sekandra, Akbar’s Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The perpendicular angles of the charbagh from the terrace of Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The perpendicular angles of the char bagh from the terrace of Humayun’s Tomb complex, New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Two levels defined by an axis of Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Two levels defined by an axis of Sekandra, Akbar’s Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007,

photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Regardless of what topography or flows of water, the landscape of Mughal Gardens are mediated and transformed by two perpendicular lines – that are troughs or canals that transport water. The two lines create four spaces, as in the term, char bagh, as in four gardens.

Water flow in trough surrounded by palm, Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 28 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Water flow in trough surrounded by palm, Humayun’s Tomb complex, New Delhi,

28 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Pool and pavilian in winter, Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan, 16 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Pool and pavilian in winter, Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan, 16 January, 2004,

photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The plaza or maidan was often part of or adjacent to a hard-surface or earthen char bagh but their uses were very different.

Courtyard and washing pool in front of Jami Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Courtyard and washing pool in front of Jami Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Hard-surfaced maidan leading to the pool at Anup Talao, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Hard-surfaced maidan leading to the pool at Anup Talao, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh,  18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The Mughals were overwhelmingly urbanites and new sources of water and as well as more multi-purpose open spaces was needed. So as well as transporting water into inhabited space, the charbagh was part of a series of practices to keep the water relatively clean.

Pool and trough with water inside the gate to Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Pool and trough with water inside the gate to Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Pool with water and trough for water to surround, Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Pool with water and trough for water to surround, Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Lake and pavilion, Hiran Minar, Sheikapura, Pakistan, 27 January, 2004 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Lake and pavilion, Hiran Minar, Sheikapura, Pakistan, 27 January, 2004 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Elephant drinking ramp, Hiran Minar, Sheikapura, Pakistan, 27 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Elephant drinking ramp, Hiran Minar, Sheikapura, Pakistan, 27 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

As the charbagh concept moved south and east across India in the 16th Century, the quadrilateral geometry functioned as a cultural sponge absorbing local styles and technologies.

Inside the lake pavilion with a view of protected woodland, Hiran Minar, Sheikapura, Pakistan, 27 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Inside the lake pavilion with a view of protected woodland, Hiran Minar, Sheikapura, Pakistan, 27 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Empty pool, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Empty pool, Sekandra, Akbar’s Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The core functions of the charbagh, for rest and pleasure, often involved cooling through the circulation of water combined with shade from vegetation.

Back fountain, Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, 17 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Back fountain, Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, 17 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

And underlying the operations of these increasingly large projects were new levels of sophistication in hydraulics, water conservation, and horticulture.

Empty rectangular pools, garden, Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Humayun's Tomb from a trough and pool in the adjacent charbagh, New Delhi, 28 March, 2007 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Humayun’s Tomb from a trough and pool in the adjacent charbagh, New Delhi, 28 March, 2007 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Site of the infamous, former lake of Fatehpur Sikri, that dried up little more than a decade after the short-lived Mughal capital was abandoned, viewed above from Jami Masjid, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Site of the infamous, former lake of Fatehpur Sikri, that dried up little more than a decade after the short-lived Mughal capital was built, viewed above from Jami Masjid, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The green spaces of charbagh and other Mughal open spaces were highly controlled. Each species, nearly all from more temperate areas of Asia and the Middle East, was selected carefully, and as the empire spread into the Indian subcontinent, and was increasingly alien to those subtropical and tropical climes. Another function of the irrigation and cooling systems was to keep these plants alive in the heat that preceded the monsoons.

Trees in charbagh from the terrace of Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Trees in char bagh from the terrace of Humayun’s Tomb complex, New Delhi, 5 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Trees in the charbagh of the Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Trees in the charbagh of the Humayun’s Tomb complex, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Vegetation adjacent to Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Vegetation adjacent to Sekandra, Akbar’s Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The creation of shade was almost as important, in the over designs of charbaghs, as bringing the delights of water, and its cooling effects. And there were contrasting forms of shade: the feathered and rapidly shifting shadows of tall palms in contrast to the large, wide-trunked trees along India’s water courses.

Tree between Barber's Tomb and Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Tree between Barber’s Tomb and Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Food production was largely jettisoned as the charbagh spread south and east. This was due, in part, to the difficulties of growing the initial charbagh trees and vines of Central Asia, notably apple and grapes, in tropical climes. But as the Mughal Empire became wealthy, the logic of food production in pleasure spaces may have been lost.

Courtyard with Hindu observances, garden of Wazir Khan Shahi Hammam, Lahore, Pakistan, 16 January, 2004 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Courtyard with Hindu observances, garden of Wazir Khan Shahi Hammam, Lahore, Pakistan, 16 January, 2004 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

There has been much discussion of the Koranic inferences in charbagh vernacular. Certainly, the sacredness and practical importance of water was one of the guiding fascinations in the designs of these gardens.

Anup Talao with water, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Anup Talao with water, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

How ‘sustainable’ were these gardens and the thinking that went into their designs? That topic warrants a few strong debates and books. Clearly, the care with the efficient use of water and vegetation was exceptional. But especially to maintain their clean, modern edges, these gardens required a high level of maintenance.

River pavilian and woodland behind the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

River pavilion and woodland behind the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Mughal Gardens: The supple, gradated boundaries between exterior & interior spaces

Riverside pavilian, Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Riverside pavilian, Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The charbagh as the most basic element of Mughal gardens began as military resting posts in Central Asia as important for horses as for human beings. The only `indoors’ were the interiors of tents. But as many charbaghs were constructed and this new kind of landscape became widely established in India, the Mughal garden became a matrix for a particularly sophisticated form of urbanism where the boundaries of inside and outside constituted gradations created by air, water, shade, text, and symbols.

Akbar's Palace, Ajmer, Rajasthan, 22 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Akbar's Palace, Ajmer, Rajasthan, 22 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Naubat Khana Gate, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Naubat Khana Gate, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007,                             photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

As the Mughals moved south and east, the Central Asian tent, that functioned to project from sun, cold and snow was replaced by various forms of pavilions, verandas and terraces that functioned more for protection from sun and rains.

Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007 photo by Gordon Brent Ingram

Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007 photo by Gordon Brent Ingram

Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Central Indian pavilion vernaculars, especially from Rajasthan, were worked into these complexes by the time of Humayun, the second Mughal emperor. With the Chhatri, the dome-shaped pavilions and canopies of the Mughals, the boundaries of inside and outside, so important to the European world, were further blurred.

Nagina Masjid and chhatri, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 19 March 2007, photography by Gordon Brent Ingram

Nagina Masjid and chhatri above, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 19 March 2007,                 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Panch Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Stairs, gates and shade, Panch Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March 2007,    photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Ankh Michauli, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Covered walkway at Ankh Michauli, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The expanded use and increasingly sophisticated jaali, latticed screens, further subverted Western notions of inside and outside at a time when the cultural exchange with the West was intensifying.

View of open space in Lahore, Pakistan from jaali in Noulakha Pavilion, Lahore Fort, 21 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

View of open space in Lahore, Pakistan from jaali in Noulakha Pavilion, Lahore Fort, 21 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Looking through jaali into the charbagh in the Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Looking through jaali into the charbagh in the Humayun's Tomb complex, New Delhi, 16 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Garden, covered walkways, fountains, pavilion, and gate at Baradarri (White Pavilion), Hazuri Bagh, Lahore, Pakistan, 15 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Room and passage way with interior fountain, Lahore Fort, Pakistan, 21 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Room and passage way with interior fountain, Lahore Fort, Pakistan, 21 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Vernaculars of verandas, baramada, and covered walkways developed quickly for the heat and monsoons of the plains.

Veranda on the edge of a garden, Diwan-i-Am, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Veranda on the edge of a garden, Diwan-i-Am, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Veranda at the 'Turkish Sultana's Pavilian' garden, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Veranda at the 'Turkish Sultana's Pavilian' garden, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The early democracy of Islamic public space soon saw barriers to the poor and marginal, such as gates, and places for the elite such as towers, minar. Islamic architecture minimized caste barriers but recognized and some cases re-enforced barriers defined by gender and class. While erotic allusions were formally removed from Mughal public spaces, the suppleness of the architectural membranes combined with complexes of water and vegetation allowed, sometimes fostered, illicit liaisons.

Plant detail, 'Turkish Sultana's Pavilian', Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Plant detail, 'Turkish Sultana's Pavilian', Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Detail of the ceiling in a pavilion in Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, Pakistan, 23 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Detail of the ceiling in a pavilion in Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, Pakistan, 23 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Ceiling, Baradarri (White Pavilion), Hazuri Bagh, Lahore, Pakistan, 15 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Ceiling, Baradarri (White Pavilion), Hazuri Bagh, Lahore, Pakistan, 15 January, 2004, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Unrestored wall in the early phases of the renovation of the Shish Mahal, Lahore Fort, Pakistan, 16 January, 2004 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Unrestored wall in the early phases of the renovation of the Shish Mahal, Lahore Fort, Pakistan, 16 January, 2004 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Further subverting and playing with the lines between outside and inside were the geometric and floral images, often with text, that were inscribed in the public garden complexes of the Mughals.

Interior detail, Safdarjang's Tomb, Delhi, 7 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Interior detail, Safdarjang's Tomb, Delhi, 7 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Interior detail, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Interior detail, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Floral detail on a ceiling and on walls, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Floral detail on a ceiling and on walls, Sekandra, Akbar's Tomb, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 18 March, 2007, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

The green roof of Railtown Studios on Vancouver Harbour: an overview

Garlic with vines of Scarlet Emperor beans in the background, 3 August 2008, Railtown Studios Green Roof, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Garlic with vines of Scarlet Emperor beans in the background, 3 August 2008, Railtown Studios Green Roof, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

29 May, 2008

in the garden of agro urban agri culture:

celebrating ten years of the Railtown Studios green roof 1998 - 2008

PDF copy available: 5-2008-the-continuing-evolution-of-the-railtown-studios-green-roof2

The continuing evolution of the

Railtown Studios Green Roof

Railtown Studios is one of Vancouver’s first buildings zoned exclusively for artist / live work rental space. The original concept for the green roof was approved by Vancouver City Council in the summer of 1995 as part of approval of the sale, renovation, and artist live/work zoning proposal for the building (a former fish packing plant, morgue and early film location for The X-Files) along with the construction of The Edge across the street).

The original 1995 – 1998 design concept was under the supervision of Rob Leshgold, the son of Jack Leshgold who is the current owner of the building and Rossmore Enterprises and Reliance Holdings of Gastown. The original garden was installed in the spring of 1998.

Being four stories above Vancouver Harbour, this green roof receives considerable sun along with a great deal of salty wind off the mountains and the sea. This particular green roof has been shaped, in particular, by wind and salt. For the first six years of the Railtown Studies Green Roof, Anne Carlson and Jeff Olson worked very hard to maintain the garden consistently with Rob’s original concept and design.

A drip irrigation system was installed in 1998 and functioned until about 2004. As this system stopped functioning, a large portion of the material that was installed in 1998 died. In addition, the original plantings consisted of cheap, conventional nursery material, notably German ivy and boxwood, which often does not sustain itself after five to ten years. Of the original material, four conventional street trees have survived as well as most of the rosemary bushes and about half of the boxwood hedges.

In 2006, a more manageable surface irrigation system was installed and over half of the current species in the garden were planted. In contrast to the plant material from the initial installation, in 1998, the more recent plantings have nearly all involved species that are moderately drought tolerant and more able to cope with the wind and salt.

Over the last decades, scores of tenants have reworked the original design to include more trees and shrubs, native species and food species with local adaptations of principles associated with the following movements:

* permaculture and older traditions of polyculture[1];

* Masanobu Fukuoka’s ‘natural farming’ and his ‘one straw revolution’[2]; and

* Miguel Altieri’s principles of complex agro-ecosystems influenced by traditional Amerindian practices[3]; and

* local and regional efforts to produce more food throughout the year such as the early work of Binda Colebrook[4].

As a green roof in a building dedicated to combining creative production with households, tenant `ecosystem management’ has been influenced by a range of cultural movements including but not confined to the following:

* contemporary fashion photography (with many commercial sessions in this garden);

* bioregionalism;

* the cusp of contemporary landscape architecture and public art;

* land art (as a movement within public art) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_art); and

* bioart that is sometimes linked to wetware.

And in the coming years new perspectives and art-making practices inevitably will further link practices of horticulture, agriculture and contemporary cultural production.

Chronology of the Railtown Green Roof
•    summer 1995 - City Council approved both the sale of the derelict Railtown building, still contaminated with PCBs, and the permitting of the joint proposal for The Edge and Railtown Studios after considerable debate with the proposed Railtown Green Roof the deal-maker. The Railtown garden became the first green roof in the City of Vancouver that was formalized and legally recognized (and mandated).
•    1996 - 1998 Owner Jack Leshgold lead the renovation of the building and his son, Rob Leshgold, designed the common areas of the roof.
•    1998 - The garden was installed in an arrangement where tenants installed and tended their own plants in assigned parts of the three long and narrow beds (supervised by building manager, Esme Friesen) and the remaining parts of the roof were planted by Rossmore Enterprises — with plants chosen by Rob Leshgold. Rob chose an ‘industrial brut’ planting style popular in the early 1990s emphasizing simple forms and a small number of supposedly resilient species (rosemary, juncus (Carex sp.), German ivy, and boxwood. The quality of the planting material was relatively poor (and cheap).
•    1998 - 2005 - Tenants Anne Carlson and Jeff Olson (who were and are married) worked with Rob Leshgold to develop his concept of the garden — with no formal involvement of the building managers Esme Friesen and Kris Grunert (and some other building managers with shorter contracts). The varieties and this particular material responded unevenly to the windy and salty conditions on the roof. The rosemary thrived. In response to the salty winds, the ivy grew down and not up. The reed-like juncus thrived in the winter and mostly died and turned brown in the summer. For six to eight months a year, Jeff and Anne put an average of ten hours a week into weeding and watering the garden. Within several years, a significant portion of the Rossmore plants had died and gaps and bare earth were evident.  There was a great deal of settling of the soil in the beds and Anne and Jeff arranged for tenants to pay for the major replenishing of the soil that took place around 2003.
•    2005 - 2007 - Anne and Jeff moved out of the building and asked me to coordinate gardening. The initial irrigation system stopped working. Subcontractors for Rossmore dug up and accidentally damaged some of the remaining Rossmore plantings. Building manager Kris Grunert’s contract was not renewed.
•    2006 - present - Joanne Reilly became the new building manager and Jack Leshgold shifted responsibilities for the garden maintenance to her. More of the original Rossmore plantings died-back. Rossmore installed a new irrigation system. The tenants were encouraged to plant in the common Rossmore beds. David Beckitt provided maintenance support in the second half of 2008.
•    In comparison to most other large and complex green roofs in the region, this project at Railtown has been developed with an exceptional amount of goodwill, cooperation, and volunteer labour. Similar green roofs involve annual expenditures of $1,000 to $2,000 in new plant material, $500 in new soil and fertilizer, and maintenance contracts (especially for weeding and trimming) in excess of $500 a month.

***

The following are February 2009 recommendations for further developing a low-maintenance garden for the building that nurtures transitions to sustainability practices and creative production.

1.    There has been a lot of winter die-back and it could well cost $1,000 to $2,000 to buy plants to fill in al of the gaps in the Rossmore beds (not including the three tenant beds). If those gaps are not quickly filled in the next month, more weeds will get established that will be difficult to remove and control.

2.    Because of more settling in the beds (which is normal), another $500 of soil would be necessary to fill the beds.

3.    The new plants that would require the least maintenance and would have the best chances of surviving for extended periods are more hearty perennial bushes, flowers and herbs such as the black-eye Susan flowers, small apple and plum trees, bulbs, and native trees and shrubs such as wild rose and red current. It is most cost-effective to obtain bona fide plant material from established nurseries not from box-stores where the material is cheap and bred not to survive for long.

4.    Like most gardens, there are a number of weeds that must be managed weekly from March through November and based on my experience and labour I estimate that a minimum level of maintenance is five person-hours a week.

5.    The other two tenant beds also will need significant plantings and weeding and gardeners committed to acquiring and maintaining more plants and weeding are needed.

6.    Annuals, such as tomatoes do well but stop producing by October while the weeds survive all year round. So to minimize takeover by weeds, a perennial such as an herb plant or a cover crop such as buckwheat or clover could be planted after an annual crop is harvested in the autumn.


[1] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture . The first books of the permaculture series by Bill Mollison of Tasmania remain highly influential (Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. 1978. Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. Hobert, Tasmania: Trasworld Publishers. ISBN 978-0938240006. & Bill Mollison. 1979. Permaculture Two: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture. Hobert, Tasmania: Tagari Publications.).

[2] (Masanobu Fukuoka. 1978. The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masanobu_Fukuoka)

[3] See http://www.agroeco.org/doc/new_docs/Agroeco_principles.pdf and also see Altieri’s highly unfluential 1995 text book: Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture. Berkeley: ITDG Publishing.

[4] Binda Colebrook.1977. Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest. Arlington, Washington: Tilth.

Calendula (yellow flowers) and fennel (behind), Railtown Studios Green Roof, 2 July, 2006 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Calendula (yellow flowers) and fennel (behind), Railtown Studios Green Roof, 2 July, 2006 photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Railtown Studios Green Roof, Vancouver: Vines of Scarlet Emperor beans

Vines of Scarlet Emperor beans, Railtown Studios Green Roof, 31 August 2008, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Vines of Scarlet Emperor beans, Railtown Studios Green Roof, 31 August 2008, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Railtown Studios Green Roof, Vancouver: Grape vines

Grape vines, Railtown Studios Green Roof, Vancouver, 31 August, 2008, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram

Grape vines, Railtown Studios Green Roof, Vancouver, 31 August, 2008, photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram