On Orlando and weeds

Orlando, Virginia Woolf, weeds, vacant lots, turf grass, landscape design

There’s a line in Orlando that uses an allusion to weeds – or their absence – as a way of highlighting just how patrician the grounds of Orlando’s manor are: “Lying in bed of a morning on the softest pillows between the smoothest sheets and looking out of his oriel window upon turf which for three centuries had known neither dandelion nor dock weed, he thought that unless he could somehow make his escape, he should be smothered alive.” While not in any way a pivotal moment in the story’s narrative, the line says much – to a plant enthusiast – about weeds and the world humans have long lived in: weeds are not a 20th-century phenomenon; they’ve been with us for as long as gardens have been cultivated and lawns have been immaculately maintained. They grow with intent against what the gardener intently wishes would grow.

John Kamp

Vacant Lands 1

prairieform, comic, vacant lands, johnnycakes, weeds, native plants, invasive plants, California, Bay Area, drought

So, some of you may know that our work is turning towards weeds, and specifically towards vacant lots. The landscapes we do take so much time – like years – to become actual, in-the-ground living creations. In order to set the ball in motion we are embarking on the the discourse-generation phase of the project, including a new comic called Vacant Lands. It will appear in installments. It represents us circa 2014, both curious about and critical of the conventional processes of landscape creation in the US. Anyhoo, here is the first. It contains the errant cuss word, just a forewarning.