November 25, 2011

Tipas Porteñas: una muestra fotográfica

I am honored to tell you about my photography show "Tipas Porteñas" that is currently running at the Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays in Buenos Aires.  Monday morning, my mother and I hung the dozen large prints in the gallery space in the brick building that was the former home of Carlos Thays.  This Saturday is the 'opening' event.  I invite you to please come along from noon to 4 pm at Avenida Santa Fe 3951 in Palermo.  

Years ago, I dreamed about the possibility of showing my love of the trees of Buenos Aires at the Garden and it is coming to fruition with the generous support of the Athena Educational Trust, the Jardín Botánico and Ambientate.  

Thus far, the exhibit has received some favorable press writeups over at JuaneleAR, GoodMorning Buenos Aires, and the Argentina Independent.

I hope you can make it to the inauguration on Saturday, if not, the exhibit will remain on display through December 12.

November 18, 2010

Jacarandas blooming all over

November is my favorite month in Buenos Aires. Not only is November 17th our arrival anniversary date, but spring is in the air, the air itself is the perfect temperature and most importantly, the Jacarandas are in bloom all over this beautiful city. These trees grace the plazas, line the major avenues, and provide explosions of unexpected color as they peek out on small streets among the more common trees. Whenever I see them, there is a burst of joy in my heart, and I remember to pause and take in their beauty. The blossoms don't last for very long, so it is important to take them in while they last.

The purple contrasts brilliantly with the bright green of the young leaves of the Tipa trees. Carlos Thays (my favorite 19th century French Landscape Artist) knew what he was doing when he planted these trees so close together all those many years ago. It is especially stunning in Plaza San Martin as there aren't so many Jacarandas and they lend a surprising burst of color.

I hope you enjoy the sample of some of my photos and the embedded slideshow below. You can see a larger slideshow on Flickr.  There is also a photo essay up on The Argentina Independent.

Jacaranda and Tipa
Purple Jacarandas, Green Tipas and the Blue and White Sky at Plaza San Martin
(Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Jacaranda at Plaza San Martin
A Jacaranda anchors the corner of Plaza de Mayo in the heart of Buenos Aires

Jacaranda Blossoms
Jacaranda Blossoms - to infinity and beyond!

Jacaranda blossoms carpet the ground in Recoleta
(Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Plaza Miserere garden
Plaza Miserere is home to a beautiful garden in the middle of the chaos of Once
(Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

January 14, 2010

January 12 Rainstorm

Cut tree, originally uploaded by blmurch.

The night/morning of January 11/12 the wind whipped through Buenos Aires at top speeds of 60 km/h. More than 140 trees toppled in the storm and over 22 cms of rain pelted the city. Our windows shook and rattled, the shutters banging in place. It was a sight and sound to behold.

The downed trees smashed cars, damaged roads and two people were hurt. Most unfortunately, one young man was electrocuted by a downed wire.

I love the trees of Buenos Aires, but they are not trimmed much and grow really tall. The cathedral effect they cast over narrow streets is delightful, however that grace and beauty can come at a cost when storms roll through. This trade off might need to be re-examined if the weather patterns keep tending to extremes.

Thanks to Katie who tipped me off to Wayne from "Southern Cone" with his lead to the article in Clarin.

By the time I got out to see some of the damage on the afternoon of the 13th, it looked like a lot of the trees had been cleaned up (at least in Palermo). There still remains a lot of repair work. 42 cars were damaged and I don't know how many sidewalks and roads. The parks guys are keeping busy.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

January 8, 2010

David Murbach - RIP

When I started this blog, I had no idea who the readership would be. I still don't really (thank you very much for reading!!), but one frequent commenter was Dave. He left very detailed comments, often correcting, gently, my ignorance about the flora of Buenos Aires. He really knew his stuff. We started an email correspondence and it turned out that he lived here in Buenos Aires part of the year. We made tentative plans to meet up in August of 2009, but the stars never aligned and unfortunately we didn't meet in person for our drink, but it was okay because we would just meet the next time he was in town. This will never come to pass. I just found out that he died in December in his West Palm Beach home in Florida. He sent me some incredible shots of Ficus trees and their root systems from Florida. We got into various discussions and he pushed me to see and write up the Carlos Thays exhibit. I'm really glad I went, I wish I'd written everything up sooner. I really regret not having had the chance to meet him in person, but I am very happy that we connected about a passion we share. I want to take the time now to suggest to myself and to everyone: carpe diem!

Dave was a humble man in our interactions and it wasn't until we'd been conversing for a while that he told me his full name and suggested that I google him. He definitely knew his stuff about horticulture. His touch will be missed and there are some pretty damned big shoes to fill this next year in New York Rockerfeller Center.

Photo by David Murbach

December 21, 2009

Welcome Garden

People and plants in the patio, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Centro Cultural Recoleta in conjunction with the French Embassy and Curator Sonia Berjman put together a beautiful and thorough exhibit on Parks Master Carlos Thays. It ran from the beginning of November through to the beginning of December. I was only able to go twice towards the end of the run, but I am so glad I went.

There were four different sections to the exhibit.

You walked into the first: the Jardín de Bienvendia through heavy plastic strips covering the doorway and were immediately struck by the full patio. Flowering plants covered the sides and climbed up the walls and a large net covered the whole area. This net kept the hundreds of butterflies from escaping. They flitted around, drinking from humming bird feeders, resting on the plants and even mating. As you looked closer you could see that one of the types of plants - milkeweed - was pretty thoroughly chomped. There were BIG fat yellow and black striped monarch caterpillars munching away on the milkweed leaves. I also saw some furry caterpillars which reminded me of the types of critters I saw growing up in Northern California.

This first section slid you into the beauty of the parks of Buenos Aires and led you perfectly into the next exhibit halls. I will write those up soon, in the mean time, enjoy the photos.

Jardín de Bienvenida
Jardín de Bienvenida, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Mating monarchs
Mating monarchs, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

September 22, 2009

¡Feliz Día de Primavera!

Pink Lapacho Tree
Pink Lapacho Tree, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Spring has sprung here and is tormenting its way through with wild weather. We have nice sunny weather and days of rain with temperatures ranging from about 10 to 20 C. We did have a crazy warm spell at the end of August where for a week it was in the high 20s and I think the mercury kissed 30C.

I was alerted to the burst of pink in Palermo when I saw the post on "My Buenos Aires Travel Guide" that a friend pointed out. The Pink Lapacho tree on the corner of Figueroa Alcorta and Mariscal Castilla has blossomed. It still has flowers and I encourage you to go check it out if you can. This specimen was planted by another important landscape artist, Martin Ezcurra. I need to learn more about him. The day I went was one of the crappy rainy days, but the sky makes for a dramatic background and raindrops are always pretty on flower petals. This species of tree is Tabebuia impetiginosa and is native to South America. The bark has medicinal purposes and has long been used as a tea. Like the jacaranda, the flowers arrive before the leaves.

Pink Lapacho flowers
Pink Lapacho flowers, originally uploaded by blmurch.

While in Villa Elisa just over a week ago, I got to see a beautiful explosion of pear blossoms. The tree was humming with honey bees busily collecting the pollen and doing their bit to help those flowers turn into luscious fruits in the late summer. The branches were covered in white flowers. They smelled divine, looked gorgeous and made the bees happy.

The plants have sprung from their dormant state and are bursting out all over. I look forward to seeing what nature has in store for us with all the colors and new life everywhere. This is my favorite time of year here in Buenos Aires. It's not too hot yet and life is living it up.

August 20, 2009

Arbolito in concert

So, this is tangentially linked to trees. La Tribu Radio 88.7 FM is celebrating their 20th anniversary. They are sponsoring many events, one of which is a concert this Friday night in Barrio Pompeya of the band ARBOLITO! I have to go! :D

Concert details:
Friday, August 21st, 11 pm
4 Pesos de propina, Arbolito, Karavana
Salón Sur - Av Sáenz 459
Pompeya, Buenos Aires

Tickets can be bought ahead of time at La Tribu (Lambaré 873) and at all the "Locuras" for 20 pesos. Or you can pick up tickets at the door for 30 pesos.

I also heard recently that there is a band called "Arbol". I'm going to have to do more research!

July 27, 2009


China Berries, originally uploaded by blmurch.

It's definitely winter here in Buenos Aires. A cold snap came through the city last week and there was snow in the Provincia! Early last Friday morning I found myself in Mataderos on the west side of town. There, I finally found someone who could tell me the name in Spanish of these trees: Paraíso. From there I was able to look them up in my book: Biota Rioplatense III: Arboles Rioplatenses (Thank you Leandro!!!). The official scientific name is Melia azedarach. In the winter, no leaves remain, just theses "China Berries". I love the fact that these berries were used as beads for rosaries before plastics came along and supplanted them. They seem like they would have a nice "click" and a nice feel as they run through one's fingers.

May 29, 2009

Otoño is here

San Telmo Morning, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Crisp air and the changing colors of the leaves harbor the approach of winter. Fall / Autumn / Otoño is here and porteños are bundled up in jackets, scarves and sometimes gloves. We've added more blankets to our bed and our normally non lap-cats are all about the snuggles these days. The Plane trees and the Ash trees offer the starkest reminder of the seasons. The Plane trees leaves are slowly turning brown and are a mottled mix of faded green and light brown. The palmate leaves flutter down congesting the sidewalks and streets. The pinnately-compound leaves of the Ash trees along Rivadavia are mostly just turning yellow and dropping to the street below. Every once in a while a strong gust of wind will produce a shower of leaves that I have yet to capture on camera. I usually see these showers as I'm riding the bus which lend an eerie feel to the late night trips. The seed pods of the Ash trees remain behind creating a strange heaviness to the otherwise bare branches. These seed pods are like the helicopter seeds of Sycamore Maple trees, but are single "blades" and spiral down much faster as a result.

In Recoleta, I came across some trees I'd never seen before - American Sweetgum - or Liquidambar in Latin Castellano (and Liquidambar styraciflua in Latin), which has the most amazing seed pods. They are called "monkey balls" and are spiky and look very intimidating, however they weren't that hard. (click here to see the above photo in large where you can make out the brown seed pods.) The leaves of these trees were a brilliant red and orange and yellow and I was immediately drawn to them as I was lamenting the lack of fall brilliance in Buenos Aires. Yellow is nice, but the beautiful burst of red and orange make for a wonderful change and really make it feel like fall is here and winter is approaching.

Fall in Recoleta, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Leaves turning, originally uploaded by blmurch.

May 5, 2009

Palo Borracho / El Toborochi

In my research about the trees of Argentina, I have come across some legends and I thought I would share one of them now. This is from Bolivia and is about the Palo Borracho or - El Toborochi - as it's known there. I've translated this as best I could from here. I'm pretty sure that the words in parentheses are Guarani. If anyone knows of more, please let me know! I love reading these stories.

A long time ago, when gods lived on earth as people, the dark spirits (Aña) abused the early Guarani people, killing the men and stealing their women.

In a small village lived a beautiful young woman named Araverá "Sparkle in the sky", the daughter of the grand chief Ururutï "White Condor". She recently married the hummingbird god, Colibrí, (Chinu tumpa), and hoped to soon have a son, who would grow up to be the best Shaman (Paye) of the area, capable of destroying all of the evil spirits.

The Añas got wind of her plans and schemed to kill her, without any consideration for Araverá. They mounted their fire-breathing winged horses and pointed them to her small town; but Araverá, saw what danger she was in and escaped, flying to the ultimate ends of the universe in her tiny flying chair that her husband Colibrí gave her.

The Añas pursued her everywhere, the the depths of the waters, under the earth, and higher than the stars. When her tiny flying chair finally couldn't support the weight of her and her growing baby anymore, they descended to earth and hid inside a Toborochi (Samou), and the Añas passed them by and never found them. There inside, Araverá bore her son. The boy grew and took revenge upon the evil of the Añas, but his mother remained in the trunk of the Samou, as she does to this day. Sometimes, when she does go outside, she becomes the tree's beautiful flower, so that the hummingbirds can come and enjoy her nectar.

Palo Borracho Flowers, originally uploaded by blmurch.