Monday, December 3, 2007

Hazy Shade of Winter

Just got back from business trip to Chicago, where I noticed that some kind of vine is planted along the concrete retaining walls on the freeway leading to the airport. Now that it’s winter and their leaves have gone, these vines make the most beautiful pattern on the concrete, like an engraving or a grisaille painting, the monochrome technique Renaissance artists used for decorative ceilings and walls. There’s something to admire in northern climes' elegant winter spareness that we don’t really get here in Austin, with our liveoak, mountain laurels, and other deciduous evergreens.

The Chicago retaining walls reminded me of interior designer Rose Tarlow’s house in Los Angeles. She lets some kind of vine actually grow into her windows and climb up her living room walls. Apparently she periodically tears off parts of the vine, leaving the vegetal sucker material as a ghostly tracery on the walls. (Anyone who has ever torn English ivy from a wall, will know a similar residual pattern.) Amazing, yet I'm not sure I'd want to endanger my property value by “trying this at home.” Also, I have a hard enough time just keeping a pot of ivy alive indoors.

Meanwhile before I left for Chicago, I took all the tender babies into the shed.


Anonymous said...

Pam @ Digging says:

That's just crazy. Interesting, but crazy.

I went to Chicago in October and had a wonderful time touring the gardens. I suspect both Lurie and the Botanic Gardens would be equally beautiful in winter. Did you make it to either one?

Annie in Austin said...

If you were from Chicago you'd say the vine grew on the expressway walls, Kiwi- that still comes off my tongue easier than 'freeway'! Virginia creeper grew on some of those roadside walls, but it could be ivy making the delicate tracery.

The Rose Tarlow story makes me visualize the vines growing through the windows and all over the interior of the room in the 'Secret Garden'.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

cotedetexas said...

That's one of my favorite houses in the world! the ivy is def. quirky, but so beautiful there. Can't imagine doing it, but then again, I don't have lovely stucco walls.