April 20, 2004

Unnatural Nature

Category: Environment , Urban Planning

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Anthem, AZ: Far to the north of Phoenix, lies a rapidly expanding suburbia that is at best barely begining to understand the desert environment they are paving over. At Anthem, a painfully hokey mega-development, a superficial effort has been made to "restore" the desert, by re-planting many native cacti and other plants.

Still, they don't quite get it - after replanting and covering the ground with some kind of red pebbles, the cacti are then plugged into an irrigation system. The irrigation is needed (even for hardy desert plants evolved to exist with virtually no water) because the landscaping actually drains the rain away from the plantings, and the parking lot curbs act like dams. In other words, the so called "natural" desert is really no more natural than had they planted bananas.

For an explanation of the simpler, cheaper, and far more beautiful alternative - (see the Sonora Desert Museam parking lot here)

Posted by Nick at April 20, 2004 5:26 AM

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