Our Profiles of Spontaneous Urban Plants research project has been working its way into our built work. In August of 2012, Future Green Studio took a field trip to Washington, D.C. to document the beautifully unruly, overgrown condition found at the Atlantic Plumbing site. While on site, we indexed over 35 different species of native and non-native plants. Many of these plants are both drought and flood resistant while requiring minimal energy and resources to maintain, making them especially well-suited to cope with the shifting global temperatures and extreme weather events of a warming planet. Some of the found species were incorporated into the Atlantic Plumbing planting palette, reframing “weeds” as things of purpose and beauty. Plants such as Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), Aster (Symphyotrichum) and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) have been incorporated into design elements like window boxes and a façade scale trellis.
This past spring we took a second trip to the site to harvest cuttings and seeds from the plants specified in our palette. Armed with a backpack full of Ziploc bags, a utility knife and a bottle of water, we took cuttings from Campsis radicans, Parthenocissus tricuspidata, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and Hedera helix. We also collected seeds from the Campsis and several grasses including Sorghastrum nutans. We have had mixed success with the cuttings, but those that survived have been producing new shoots and are going strong. Research will continue in the spring when we attempt to sprout the seeds. Ultimately, we hope to return cuttings and seedlings to the transformed Atlantic Plumbing site – providing vegetal continuity from the site’s past into the future.