Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 51

ENTREVUE

The two rules are everything's connected to everything
else. And the second, harder to learn; as you get older,
you learn it really fast. Everything dies. So we're looking
at resilience now, which is defined as safe to fail.
- Robert Wright

soil science, about how to increase the
crop or timber yields. That is not what
urban trees are about. An agricultural
soil scientist can do as much harm as
good without understanding urban soils,
urban development processes and the
construction industry. They certainly need
more ideas about soil than chemistry and
texture. Landscape architects should be
engaged in this most important aspect
of their profession and be able to solve
most of their soil problems without a soil
scientist. Does your doctor call a pharmacy
expert to write you a prescription? When
I hear someone say, " We're going to use
a good soil, " or worse " We're going to
make the soil ideal for this particular tree, "
I cringe. In Toronto, you really only have
one kind of soil, it's the black " stuff " that's
all around your city and suburbs. While
there are soil nuances across the GTA, you
have to understand and be able to work
with your basic resource. This black and
dark brown soil is actually quite good. It's
resilient and sustainable, but also quite
messy to work with. The local high soil pH
and its silt content are the largest limiting
factor. This makes matching the plants
to the soil rather than the soil to the plant
choices imperative. It's also not quite as
easy as just putting it in a truck and bring
it into town. Be careful about the moisture
content. Be careful about how you treat it
as you dig it up, store it, load it in the truck,
drop it off, spread it around, grade and
compact it. Silty soils are relatively fragile
compared to soil with more clay and not as
forgiving of compaction forces as sandier
loam soils
Can we take a more simplistic, less
academic, view of soil? About three
months before publication of my book,
Up by Roots, my editor said that they had
received a letter from two distinguished soil
3 strata
scientists who said
the bookplanting
should not be
published because they heard a lecture in
which I referred to soil as " dirt. " ISA asked
two other distinguished soil scientists to

HABITAT

review the entire book and they found eight
things in the book that were incorrect. In
500 pages, I thought that was pretty good.
Three of the eight were just simple typos
and three were difference in the science,
all were corrected. But there remained the
question of soil as " dirt. " In my discussion
with the peer review soil scientist, he
said, " As soon as you put soil in a truck, it
is no longer is soil, it's dirt. It won't grow
anything. " I said, " Well, that's interesting
because I've never planted a tree in any soil
that hasn't been in a truck and most of the
time the plants grow pretty well. " That led
to quite a long discussion and we added
a sidebar piece about that discussion in
the book.
We have to think about soil as dirt. We have
to change our idea that we can control
it. We have to remember that the most
important thing about dirt and soil is time.
Once you wreck it by screening it and
mixing it, what we are doing is taking the
" time " out the soil. The time it takes to
slowly build structure, accumulate complex
soil organic matter, not from composted
leaves, but from root exudates and root
turn over, organic compounds and billions
of soil organisms. When you put in a soil in a
blender, what you're doing is taking out all
the time that it took to make that structure
and build that soil biology. It's like taking an
expensive dinner and running it through a
blender and pouring then entire mess onto
your plate. All the wonderful things that are
in that soil, or that dinner, are lost.

We still need a huge amount of research
on many of our soil questions. That's why
I've dedicated the last years of my career
to the TREE Fund, trying to raise money
for research. I encourage you all to at
least look at the TREE Fund as a good
place to support. Become proficient in
soil and follow the research as it continues
to evolve.
CLOSING REMARKS
Michael: Jim, you did write the book, and
I am careful to say not a book because it
was the book. One thing that you said that
I found particularly interesting is that even
though you wrote the book in 2008, if you
were to write it today, it would probably be
a very similar book. And that's significant.
Another thing to mention is how many
times I've heard you say the word " dirt " and
I absolutely love it! It's so contentious and
didactic, and I think that's how you mean
it. Surely you were trying to rile people
up when you were first using that word?
I don't know. But it's effective because it
helps us understand soil for what it is, and
it helps us change the way we think about
soil as a substrate. It's always been about
the substrate, and it's wonderful that more
of us are now realizing that.

So it is good to preserve the right mature trees, but
we can't forget some of those other areas that are
incredibly old, forests that are significant, habitats
that have every layer of the appropriate ecology of
the understory, the mid-level that has all that stuff.
We have to make sure that we're hitting it at all fronts.
- Bob Sommers
SPRING | PRINTEMPS 2021 51



Landscapes - Spring 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Spring 2021

TO BEGIN WITH | POUR COMMENCER
OUR WRITERS | NOS RÉDACTEURS
PROLOGUE
TECHNOLOGY AND THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE
VIRTUALIZATION OF THE LANDSCAPE DESIGN PROCESS
LE PAYSAGE VIRTUEL COMME OUTIL DE TRAVAIL
DATA-DRIVEN ZONING CODES FOR CLIMATE ACTION
3D FAX MACHINES
LA TECHNOLOGIE À LA RESCOUSSE DE LA SENSIBILITÉ
CRITIQUE
INTERVIEW
FORUM
THE PARTING SHOT | UNE DERNIÈRE SALVE
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - Intro
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 1
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 2
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 3
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 4
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 5
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 6
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 7
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - TO BEGIN WITH | POUR COMMENCER
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 9
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - OUR WRITERS | NOS RÉDACTEURS
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 11
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 12
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 13
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - PROLOGUE
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 15
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 16
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 17
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 18
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 19
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - TECHNOLOGY AND THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 21
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 22
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 23
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 24
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 25
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - VIRTUALIZATION OF THE LANDSCAPE DESIGN PROCESS
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 27
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 28
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 29
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 30
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 31
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - LE PAYSAGE VIRTUEL COMME OUTIL DE TRAVAIL
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 33
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - DATA-DRIVEN ZONING CODES FOR CLIMATE ACTION
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 35
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 36
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 37
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 3D FAX MACHINES
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 39
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - LA TECHNOLOGIE À LA RESCOUSSE DE LA SENSIBILITÉ
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 41
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 42
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 43
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - CRITIQUE
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 45
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - INTERVIEW
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 47
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 48
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 49
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 50
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 51
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 52
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 53
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - FORUM
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 55
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 56
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 57
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 58
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 59
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 60
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 61
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 62
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 63
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 64
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 65
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - THE PARTING SHOT | UNE DERNIÈRE SALVE
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 67
Landscapes - Spring 2021 - 68
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