Thursday, August 9, 2012

Keeping it local

After doing more research into the eco-region of Bend, I decided that sourcing all the plants locally was the best way to ensure a successful planting. Initially I had structured the concept of the installation around the specific healing characteristics of the plants in each space and so was reluctant to vary my approach. The more I thought about it and the more I searched for specific medicinal plants like codonopsis ( a qi builder) and elecampane ( a strong digestive and upper respiratory aid) I realized that the initial idea, while good, would have required more inputs (my energy to locate plants, special attention from maintenance crews and gas to pick up plants 5 + hours away in a different growing zone) than plants sourced from local nurseries. In the process of reorganizing, I talked with some great people at Land Systems Nursery and Winter Creek Restoration  - both of which are in Bend. Rick Martinson at Winter Creek helped me select native plants with similar ethnobotanical/healing properties to the plants I was replacing. Even better than the plants I had selected initially, these plants were used for healing and nourishment in Bend by native peoples before European settlement.

Contained in this experience is a great metaphor. Embracing the reality of what is there as opposed to trying to make a situation work because it's on paper and it fit what was in my head made this process less fraught and more rewarding. I am thrilled about the way the addition of these new plants deepens the connection/meaning of the installation to the place. I am also grateful for the chance to have let go of an idea and been rewarded with meeting great people, and learning on many different levels. 

One of the plants I learned about from Rick is Stanleya Pinnata - or Prince's Plume. It's in the brassica (mustard) family. Typically, it is boiled and eaten like cabbage in the spring and is very bitter - making it a good liver tonic, much like dandelion or chicory that we have here in the Northeast. The form is striking, tall spikes of yellow flowers that tower over much of the scrubby desert vegetation in the region. I am looking forward to seeing some of these in situ and getting started on the installation. It's coming up quickly! 

Stanleya - Prince's plume

revised planting

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