Imagine if human pregnancy also involved and required custom-building a house for the newborn babies – and not with the help of a contractor or designer, but on your own, with your own hands and with your own gathered materials. This is in essence what a hummingbird does in anticipation of the arrival of its young; every mother hummingbird is her own architect. Check out the video and marvel for yourself, as it is something to marvel over. Happy viewing.
We like to think of how bug hotels might become contemporary artifacts. If many generations from now someone came upon this structure, in the middle of a clearing – or perhaps amidst woods, if we know anything about plant succession – it would be in some state of decay, with plants growing within and out of it, and they would have to deduce what it meant and what it was for. If they did their sleuthing well, they would surmise that despite a propensity for humans at that time to work against the forces of nature, there were perhaps a small few who in their own odd and idealistic ways tried to push the tide in the other direction, and so they created these structures, to house the little critters being crowded out by so many greater forces. Or perhaps by that time these critters had won, and thus this bug hotel was only a remnant, a thing they no longer needed, as the world had once again become theirs?
Photo from the LA Times of less-than-aesthetically-appealing rain barrel
One of the simplest ways to reduce irrigation costs and conserve water is to install a rain barrel (or two or three) on site. The barrels can then capture a portion of the rainwater that runs through your downspouts. While we think the trend is fantastic and impeccably simple (namely because it is old technology revived after 80 years of thinking freshwater supplies were infinite), we do not buy into the belief that because one is doing good by installing a rain barrel that you should just accept that the barrels are ugly. This is the lazy line of reasoning that leads to scrubby native-plant-only gardens (re: you should overlook the fact that the garden is a botanical hot-mess-up because it is ALL NATIVE. Repeat: ALL NATIVE), and that leads to bad vegan desserts (re: you should overlook the rubbery texture of this brownie becase it is VEGAN. Repeat: VEGAN).
Doing good should not require taking a hit in the aesthetic or taste department. Thus, if the client wishes to capture some of their rainwater on site, then it is our job to integrate that wish into a cohesive design solution for the site and not cop out and respond that you will have to settle for an obtrusive black plastic barrel on the side of your house. And fortunately, there are places like CFC Rain Barrels of Minneapolis that have devised seemless designs that house each barrel in a mini wooden shed, whose paint color and style match those of the house or building it is adjacent to. A few of these on one’s property and you reduce your need for irrigation, reduce your water bills, and no one notices the barrels one bit.
On capturing rainwater in an arid climate such as LA’s: click here.