Art Plants

Generative Leaf Botanical Art: Allison Kudla’s Growth Pattern Project

Artist Allison Kudla works with digital media in order to create time-based botanical works. Some of her past works have included data generated real-time video/audio renderings, working with hybrid bio-mechanical systems, and using CNC technologies and plant tissue culturing.

In her project called Growth Pattern, Kudla explored how a living natural system can take on the form of a manufactured pattern.

To make the piece, tobacco leaves are die-cut into a symmetrical pattern and suspended in tiling square petri dishes that have the nutrients necessary to promote new leaf growth.  The leaves are provided with the hormones that cause the cells to produce new leaf tissue, and the new leaves that grow extend the form of the traditional inspired botanical design.

When on display, the leaves change and change over time.   Each tile is a self-contained ecosystem, and through they were decontaminated and sterilized, some contamination still occurs. In some tiles,  the tissue dies.  In others, parasites might grow faster in the leaves.  In other tiles, new shoots begin to sprout from the original pattern.

The piece has shown in Spain and Belgium in recent years.  Kudla has other interesting projects that explore working with nature and technology which can be seen on her website

Image Source:
Allison Kudla’s Website –

Climate change Plants Uncategorized

Oranges and Figs in Ohio? – Plant Hardiness Zones Have Changed

A hardiness zone defines what kinds of plants can grow in a specific geographic area.  The classification is defined by climatic conditions, especially the low temperatures that a plant can withstand. A plant might be labeled as “hardy to zone 10,” which means that the plant can withstand a minimum temperature of -1°C. Another type of plant labeled “hardy to zone 9” can handle a minimum temperature of -7°C.

The USDA recently released a new plant hardiness zone map.  The updated map is based on the past twenty years of temperatures and conditions from 1976 to 2005. The temperatures in the U.S. are in general two-thirds of a degree higher than before.

The new updated map has rezoned many areas, generally one half-zone warmer than the last map in many areas of the United States. States such as Ohio, Texas, and Nebraska are now in a warmer zones.

Overall, the temperatures in Winter are not as cold as they used to be.  The growing season is longer, and gardeners can grow and harvest plants for a longer period of time than 20 years ago.

Is this an indicator of climate change?  Is the earth warming up and influencing our environment? There is no official report about this in relation to the updated map.

In Ohio,  most of the state moved from zone 5 to zone 6 under the Department of Agriculture’s revised map.

I just looked at some gardening sites online, to see what can grow in Zone 6. Big news, there is one type of orange tree (Flying Dragon) and a few varieties of figs (Celeste, Chicago Hardy, LSU Gold, LSU Purple, and Magnolia) that can grow in Zone 6, which means that oranges and figs can now grow in Ohio.

Image Source:
Hidden Springs Nursury


2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Map

2012 Interactive Plant Zone Hardiness Map


Richard Mabey’s Book: WEEDS – In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants

Do you spend part of spring or summer trying to get rid of weeds?  If so, the book Weeds –In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants by Richard Mabey might give you a new perspective on these plants that we consider to be invasive and essentially “in our way.”  Since the development of agriculture, weeds have been seen as a problem.  The concept of a weed was developed by man, and the classic saying “a weed is just a plant in the wrong place still applies.

Weeds have served as food, fuel, medicine, dyes and have functioned as a building material for a variety of insects, birds and humans.  I was surprised to learn that weeds are largely a consequence of human activity. We have delivered weeds to other areas in a ships’ ballast, in the storage areas of trains, in packaging materials, in wool and brewing merchants’ raw goods, in the soil of our plants that we import or export.

The book is a biological and cultural history of weeds and covers the role of weeds in literature,  art, folklore, and medicine. The book highlights the usefulness of weeds.  Weeds stabilize soil, provide shelter for plants, control water loss, and can help repair landscapes affected by landslides, flood, fire, development and weaponry.

After I go hiking and I return home surprised to see the back of my pant leg is covered with burrs, I am reminded by how ingenuous weeds are.  They have evolved to have hooks, burrs, spines, rib hairs and even a glue-like substance in order to traffic their seeds to other places.  Often the seeds of weeds can wait a long time, as much as 40 years, in order to grow.

Many times when we try to get rid of weeds, we improve the health of the weed.  Using a hoe often does not get rid of weeds with deeper roots, and chemical weed killers often can affect those who develop a resistance. Due to our actions, weeds have evolved to mimic the size, shape, height and coloring of plants favored by us to grow for food. Weeds sometime seem supernatural.  They can grow fast, morph into new shapes, travel through ingenious methods,  change color to adapt, and also endure rough conditions.

Over the centuries, we have tried every conceivable method of getting rid of undesirable plants.  In Medieval times, farmers tried curses and negative names:  calling weeds names such as hellweed, devil’s claws, devil’s fingers, devil’s daisy, devil’s tether.

In his book,  Mabey promotes our acceptance weeds and writes that, “at a time of great environmental change and uncertainty, weeds may soon be all we’ve got left.”  He recommends that we learn to tolerate them, and even celebrate them.

When the snow melts, and the weeds start to pop up around my yard  – I’m not sure I’m ready to celebrate them yet – but I do see them a little differently.


Image Source:
Anecdotal Evidence



Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants

Interview on NPR – ‘Weeds’: In Defense Of Botany’s Cockroach








Art Plants

Paula Hayes: Living Works of Art

Paula Hayes is an artist and designer who makes creative work with terrariums and other organic materials.  She currently has work on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts until December 30, 2011 of recent sculpture as well as some new commissioned work. Her work combines modern contemporary design with plants and natural materials – the end result which is a futuristic terrariums with quirky plants and crystals that resemble slugs, eggs, and other organic forms.

Balancing the role of gardener and sculptor, Hayes works with industrial materials such as hand-blown glass, silicone, and cast acrylic and makes organic shapes that she fills with plants, minerals, and crystals.   The pieces are sometimes mounted on pedestals or arranged as necklaces or constellations of “micro-terrariums.”

“It’s only very partially an object. It’s mostly a verb,” Hayes says about her work.  Her work brings the outdoors inside and is a contemporary approach to terrariums and does not include fake plants, small bamboo plants, or natural twine (like planters and terrariums of the 1970’s.)

Hayes also created the  Wexner Center Roof Garden near the Wexner Center’s entrance, which will feature hearty sedum plants, perennial plantings, grasses, and sculptural planters. The garden is a permanent addition and will change, grow, and be visually interesting in all 4 seasons.

A gardener, landscape designer and artist, she has been commissioned to design and execute gardens for multiple public and private spaces, including Hauser & Wirth Gallery in New York, W Hotel Landscape in Miami, and Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany.



Paula Hayes’s website and blog

Paula Hayes at Moma – Video

Behind the Scenes: Paula Hayes, Nocturne of the Limax maximus

Wexner Center Exhibition Preview

Paula Hayes Wexner Rooftop Garden Installation


Art Plants

Rare Botanical Prints on View and For Sale – Saturday December 10th

Last week I stopped by the library at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (CBG) and learned about the upcoming sale of botanical art books, rare prints, and posters which is happening this Saturday December10th in the Eleanor Squire Library.  Each year the library has this sale to help raise funds for CBG.

I got a sneak peak at some of the prints, which included some hand colored lithographs,  some rare Mary Vaux Walcott  prints and some original seed catalogue prints.  Gary Esmonde, librarian explained to me that the Walcott prints are extremely rare.  They come from a 5 volume set and are rarely split up, either as books or as individual prints.

I got a look at some of the smaller prints that are for sale which included some prints from the late 1800’s, and were various plants and flowers.  You could see the plate marks on the print, and the fine lithograph lines lend a quality of detail only seen in prints.   One of my favorite prints included a lithograph of a Picotee flower, which has lots of petals in an interesting arrangement.

Some of the books for sale have 30-40 prints inside of them (so you could split the book up later if you want a series of prints), and there are over 160 single prints that will be on display and for sale.

Want to buys some prints – or just take a peek at some interesting botanical prints and books?  The sale is open from 10am-5pm, and is free with CBG admission.

For more information, call 216 707-2812 or contact librarian Gary Esmonde at

Image Source:

Prints from the CBG library



Cleveland Botanical Garden

Rare Print Sale @ CBG Information Event Page