Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hedge Is The New Lawn?

 Green soothes.
Is the love of lawn in our DNA?  It may well be.   I remember reading about a study using the newest brain-activity scans--subjects looked at colors, and scientists determined what was going on in the brain for each color.  Could I find that article again?  Of course not.  The Google just wouldn't cough it up no matter what keywords I used.  So, I'll speculate instead.  
The brain (as I remember reading) lit up in certain areas--alertness, excitement--for bright colors like red, orange, yellow.  For blue and green, the brain became quiet, calm, serene.
Are you energized?  
 Feeling serene?
 Study scientists thought perhaps that an expanse of blue is somewhat irrelevant in the search for food--through species after species over hundreds of millions of years of evolution, no animal eats the sky.  A blue sky means nice weather--happiness, rather than excitement.  
Oooh!  Flowers the colors of oranges--I love oranges--so sweet!  And plums!  Love plums!
Bright colors like red, orange, yellow--fruit!  Ripe, delicious fruit!  Edible!  Yum!  Any brain would get excited.  (And no wonder I love color.)
 Grass--sauce for the goose?
What about green?  It means, what?  Non-desert.  A good place.  Shade and shelter (trees).  If you are an herbivore, plenty to eat.  If you are a fruit eater, it means potential for fruit soon, if not today.  It means water is likely nearby.  It means you have a better chance of survival.  Calm.  Good.  Relax.  No wonder we like lawns--surely our brains are programmed, after hundreds of millions of years of evolution, to feel safe and hopeful amidst a rich expanse of green.

 photo DreamBig2526.jpg

Now there is drought, but an expanse of rich,  calming green is still available all around us:  hedges, of course.  Syzygium, Myrtle, Toyon, Ligustrum, Xylosma.  Tough.  Low water requirements when fully established.  Or a vine-covered wall, which is, in effect, a virtual hedge.  Perhaps to our neurons and synapses and DNA, a hedge is a lawn, or close enough. 
Velvety green, little water required.  
One thing lawn doesn't deserve--have you noticed on the TV news and in articles, it's always "ripping out" lawn.  People "ripped out their lawn".  People need to "rip out" their lawn.  The water district is handing out rebates for "ripping out your lawn".  What is the need for retribution, for violence, for green blood from the family Poaceae?  Can't writers just say "remove"?  There's no need to be cruel.  Plants are not the enemy.  

21 comments:

  1. Oh, lady, you hit a nerve here.

    First, I remember reading the article, too, but could I find it? No. It was on the Yahoo News page in that section where articles flash by. The article was about Martha Stewart and the color green. Inside the article was a link to the page you are talking about, how the color green affects the brain. But couldn't find it in history so I think linking from inside another article is not recorded there. I was going to write about it and illustrate it with pretty pictures. I'm glad you did it. Yours are much better than mine. I sure do like your last picture. I ended up by writing about green salad, Ensalada Esmeralda. Funny how the mind works.

    About lawns ... some environmentalist groups talk about killing the lawn ... kill, kill, kill. Kill the invasives, weed wars, plant murder. I hate this and have dropped out of those groups. As you say, plants are not the enemy. See, you pushed a button, hit a nerve, here. I love plants. I am a plant addict. A plant-o-philiac.

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    1. Plants are amazing, says a fellow addict. I am hoping that those people who even with the terrible replacements of gravel and a few plants, learn to appreciate plants more--could we be on the edge of a great revival of interest in gardening?!? Wouldn't that be wonderful?

      Yeah, the blogging mind is a strange thing...in a good way.

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  2. Better yet perhaps to speak in terms of replacement. I'm seeing lots of dead lawns - maybe that's just because people are waiting out the warm season to remove and replace their turf but I hope that's not what we're going to see for the next 10 years.

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    1. Learning curve. More than plants, even--irrigation needs to be better done. The amount of water still pouring down the gutters around here is ridiculous. If systems put the water on the plants and kept it there instead of in the street, I'm sure we'd save 10% in So Cal just doing that.

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  3. Even lawn couldn't be an enemy, for now anyway whilst drought is hanging. Green is such a calming, fresh colour and other sources fortunately provide that sensation.

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    1. Lawn in the UK is so beautiful--it's just not the same here.

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  4. I don't know about green being calming. During the winter when I look at the photos of my garden from the previous summer my heart starts racing... :)

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    1. I think you have good reason in your climate!

      My sister in Alaska says there is a greenhouse/coffee house where people go in winter so they can smell dirt and plants that are not frozen.

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  5. Green is such a beautiful and soothing colour, I love my lawn, I love walking on it with bare feet and in the hot summer months it provides some relief from the heat whereas my paving near the house is like a heat sink, good in winter but not summer. I need a pergola for shade. I don't water my lawn, it has to rely on any rainfall and dew from cold mornings. It is not perfect, there are some thin patches, it is made up of many kinds of grasses, some which have encroached on my back yard, some native grasses and some weeds which are still attractive and green. I love hedges and climbing plants for another wonderful source of green. Wonderful photos dear Hoover.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. Lawns that are appreciated and walked upon--that is what they are meant for. So many people here never even go outside except to get in their cars and drive off. Yours does fairly well on rainfall--that's wonderful!

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  6. This is a very thoughtful--and thought-provoking post. Everything you said makes complete sense to me.

    As for the language uses to describe the removal of lawns, it reflects the ill-defined frustration (with the weather? nature? government? life?) so many people seem to feel.

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    1. I think the media nowadays over dramatize things in the competition for viewers/readers. But frustration rages with all the things you mentioned--except maybe nature? Most people seem have little relationship to nature these days. Gardeners excepted!

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  7. That's a bit like "the war on _____"

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  8. Thank you for this post. Yes, to the love of green hedges and green lawns and velvety green moss. Loving green does not make you a scourge on society. And I often think about how my 316 foot long Algerian ivy hedge will survive without any water for many years, which gives me comfort when I imagine the garden without grass.

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    1. Happy you found it of interest! Ivy is a survivor alright...

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  9. I love the concept of putting the green on the vertical. I think a lawn's main function (at least if it's not used for games and play) is to provide a visual backdrop to other elements in the garden. Since they are such water/fert hogs, what you are suggesting is brilliant. I don't see why it couldn't provide the same visual/spatial effect when used as a hedge - and with so much less care! Here's to more *removal* of lawn, in favor of other green surfaces! As for the impact on color on the psyche - it is something I find fascinating. Years ago, I set the colors for an elementary school here in town, and choose the colors based on our physiological responses to those colors. I figured it would be fun to supplement the middle-schooler's scientific understanding of color, so I wrote this little ditty for them, and later posted it on my blog. You can check it out here, if you like: https://thecreativeflux.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/why-so-many-colors/

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    1. Interesting blog post, and btw excellent blogs as well. I've long admired your design talent. Thank you for the link. I have a view of boston ivy out the window, and it gives me my green fix quite adequately. Fine, even texture, as in Myrtus communis seems most effective--the texture does not distract from the color.

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    2. Thanks, Gail! What a nice thing to say! :)

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  10. Hi. What fertilize do you use in your roses? Your roses are amazing y so so beautiful!

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    1. Hi tropaelum! I use a variety of fertilizers, such as alfalfa meal, horse manure, liquid fish, cottonseed meal. They are a lot of fun--it is good to go out in the morning and look for new buds. You have very beautiful roses yourself!

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