A botanical garden of urban decay

This page will collect drawings, essays, and ideas for a proposed public space focusing on the botany and biology of decaying urban lots. Though often considered empty or unimportant compared to the “real” spaces of occupied and maintained buildings, margins have much to say about what they bound – they are definitely not empty.

This project stems from a long-standing interest I have in the nature of so-called “disturbed” environments. There are entire ecologies of plant and animal life, sometimes called “pioneer species,” that not only survive but thrive in places usually considered “dead” or “empty.” My goals in this project consist of the following:

  • First, to explore the history of botanical gardens as public spaces. Many contemporary gardens began life as private spaces, often for the wealthy, and were only later transferred into the public realm.
  • Second, an overview of the current situation of botanical gardens, particularly as devices of public pedagogy as well as recreation.
  • Third, the question of what particular botanical gardens prioritize in their organization and planning and why they might do so. That is, why does the Botanical Garden at the ABQ bio park here in Albuquerque have a conservatory dedicated to desert plants and a bed of xeric, or dry-weather plants?
  • Fourth and finally, a proposal for a botanical garden designed and organized to demonstrate the variety and richness of seemingly “dead” marginal environments. I intend this suggestion quite literally, not just as a thought experiment. (Although scraping together the money for it might take some time.

As I work on this project I will make my findings available on this page.


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