Through the interstices – thinly

Walking across any city you see many narrow spaces, often filled with trash or weeds, sometimes with a power pole, a transformer, or an access hatch. Some are planned landscape easements, but mainly they are the result of setback rules; boundary disagreements; areas set aside for ‘landscaping’ by people ignorant of plants, road medians, electric-cable envelopes, line-of-sight paths, air-rights corridors…

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The thinnest garden in the South – appears to be a genuine aesthetic thin-scape – Invercargill

 

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Really thin – about 600mm  / two feet

This wasted land is called interstitial space, a biological term from the space between cells where fluids and gases are exchanged, transported and regulated, cyclically and with great efficiency in terms of energy and space. Not a bad metaphor for how left-field thinkers might re-purpose these (often dead) non-places.

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A deep back alley on Bellhill Dunedin – full of weedy vitality

These spaces have been lost from the city; while they move sewage, fresh water, electricity or data they are often unattractive and represent lost potential to regulate and heal the city; detaining rainfall, providing bird habitat, reducing heat-island effects, filtering and holding onto fumes and particles and providing essential visible nature in the city, these are all possible even on very narrow sites.

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Repurposed kerb space as stormwater device – Libertia peregrinans

 

As nature abhors a vacuum weeds often invade these spaces, physically damaging walls and seeking out water pipes. Here are several more planned and less planned spaces that I call Thin Gardens.

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Recent Christchurch raingarden – post-quake there is more room for plants, often exotic/native mixes but it’s really an ecological-engineering issue as you need plants to work all the year
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One of my favourites – a factory garden – always something in flower here: Coleonema,  Brachyglottis, Hebe, Ceanothus and a nice Hydrangea in back
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Sun never shines here  – Astelia nervosa mainly – seems to be whatever was left over after road-making

 

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2 thoughts on “Through the interstices – thinly

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  1. A lot can be done in such small spaces. I work with them often. Even if the exposed soil is a small area, roots can disperse below pavement, and branches can disperse above. I actually purchased a tiny lot that is too narrow and too steep to put anything on (and because it has only one adjacent neighbor, probably can never be sold). I planted berries and fruit trees on it when I had to vacate my garden. It is like a storage parcel for the garden. There is a second one a few yards away, but I do not use it for anything yet.

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