research, sketches, ideas, questions

Month: June, 2012


by studiojane

lets start with getting some  smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora

maybe can be found here:

here is a very interesting description of hte birth of a salt marsh
A salt marsh is “born” by the arrival of a seed or the rafting of a plant of the cord grass Spartina alterniflora. The grass spreads asexually by means of a subterranean rhizome system. The grass becomes dense and forms a baffle, which encourages the deposition of fine particulate sediment, including organic matter (salt marsh peat). This, in effect, causes a rise of the sediment surface and makes the habitat more terrestrial. As this happens, other somewhat less salt-tolerant grasses are able to invade. Eventually, this series of invasions and takeovers leads to a vertical zonation of grasses and a spread of the entire marsh system.


here is a plant list for coastal massachusetts which gives other options


more on this:  from wikipedia

Tidal flooding and vegetation zonation

An Atlantic coastal salt marsh in Connecticut.

Coastal salt marshes can be distinguished from terrestrial habitats by the daily tidal flow that occurs and continuously floods the area.[1] It is an important process in delivering sediments, nutrients and plant water supply to the marsh.[5] At higher elevations in the upper marsh zone, there is much less tidal inflow, resulting in lower salinity levels.[1] Soil salinity in the lower marsh zone is fairly constant due to everyday annual tidal flow. However, in the upper marsh, variability in salinity is shown as a result of less frequent flooding and climate variations. Rainfall can reduce salinity and evapotranspiration can increase levels during dry periods.[1] As a result, there are microhabitats populated by different species of flora and fauna dependant on their physiological abilities. The flora of a salt marsh is differentiated into levels according to the plants’ individual tolerance of salinity and water table levels. Vegetation found at the water must be able to survive high salt concentrations, periodical submersion, and a certain amount of water movement, while plants further inland in the marsh can sometimes experience dry, low-nutrient conditions. It has been found that the upper marsh zones limit species through competition and the lack of habitat protection, while lower marsh zones are determined through the ability of plants to tolerate physiological stresses such as salinity, water submergence and low oxygen levels.[12][13]

The New England salt marsh is subject to strong tidal influences and shows distinct patterns of zonation.[13] In low marsh areas with high tidal flooding, a monoculture of the smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora dominate, then heading landwards, zones of the salt hay, Spartina patens, black rush, Juncus gerardii and the shrub Iva frutescens are seen respectively.[12] These species all have different tolerances that make the different zones along the marsh best suited for each individual.

Plant species diversity is relatively low, since the flora must be tolerant of salt, complete or partial submersion, and anoxic mud substrate. The most common salt marsh plants are glassworts (Salicornia spp.) and the cordgrass (Spartina spp.), which have worldwide distribution. They are often the first plants to take hold in a mudflat and begin its ecological succession into a salt marsh. Their shoots lift the main flow of the tide above the mud surface while their roots spread into the substrate and stabilize the sticky mud and carry oxygen into it so that other plants can establish themselves as well. Plants such as sea lavenders (Limonium spp.), plantains (Plantago spp.), and varied sedges and rushes grow once the mud has been vegetated by the pioneer species.

Salt marshes are quite photosynthetically active and are extremely productive habitats. They serve as depositories for a large amount of organic matter and are full of decomposition, which feeds a broad food chain of organisms from bacteria to mammals. Many of the halophytic plants such as cordgrass are not grazed at all by higher animals but die off and decompose to become food for micro-organisms, which in turn become food for fish and birds.

flotant (flow tawnt=)

by andisutton

Flotant:  Floating marsh suspended in the water and found in Louisiana. It consists of tightly entangled plants and their roots, mixed with peat; typically there is water flowing below it.

“When Hurricane Andrew blew through south Louisiana, it passed over some of the best flotant marsh zones in the state.  In some areas, terrible damage occurred.  The flotant was ripped from the shore and the storm winds pushed it across the water where it bunched up in folds on the other shore.  It looked like your bed spread does when you kick your covers off during the night and they bunch up at the foot of the bed.  We thought that this would be devastating, but over the next couple of years the flotant spread back out and reunited with the other shore.  Most of these marshes look today like they did before the hurricane.” from Flotant Marsh

Imagine! A marsh bunched up like a bedspread…


Restoration structures for a flotant marsh. These serve as initial growing platforms for marsh vegetation. This project was at Mandalay NWR in Louisiana.

Floating Salt Marsh Proposal already in the making

by andisutton

UMass Boston professor, Anamarija Frankic: researcher & founder of the Green Boston Harbor Project.

“The Green Boston Harbor Project (GBH) is the core of my multidisciplinary research. My premise is that the environment sets the limits for sustainable development.

The GBH methodology is derived from a 1500 year old Native Hawaiian Ahupua’a approach. This approach defines sustainable relationships among land, water and humans from the tops of islands to the coral reefs and open ocean. The main connection – as well as impediment – among the different self-sustaining units in this approach was both the quality and quantity of the water.  Land stewardship practices were established to ensure that water used for agricultural purposes higher on the mountains was either unharmed or enhanced for downstream uses.”

Green Boston Harbor Project includes proposed development of living labs – salt marshes to be restored (and grown) on UMB campus.  Includes plans laid out for floating salt marsh islands.  (Something to tap in to? Respond to?)

Explanatory publication:

Frankić, A., L. *Greber, and M. Farnsworth. 2011. Teaching and learning with nature by using biomimicry approach to restore three keystone habitats: salt marsh, eelgrass and shellfish beds. In Proceedings of the First Annual Biomimicry in Higher Education Webinar. Biomimicry Institute. (PDF).

**Includes a brief description of “biomimicry”: May want to use as guiding principles for project?

Biomimicry projects address how to:
1. Evolve and Survive;
2. Be resource efficient;
3. Adapt to changing conditions and be resilient;
4. Integrate development and growth;
5. Be locally attuned and responsive;
6. Use life-friendly materials, water-based chemistry, and self-assembly

Includes mention of adding “living skirts” to existing hard structures: floating salt marshes, etc.

To explore: floating marsh/tree that includes vertical layer/mussel breeding bed/underwater grasses?

Other publications that may be of interest:

Frankić, A. and L. *Greber .2011. A Holistic Science Approach to Living within Coastal Ecosystems in Boston Harbor and Beyond. The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability (In press).

*Greber, L., A. Frankić, and J. Muller. 2011. NERRs (National Estuarine Research Reserves) as Common Grounds: Towards a holistic science approach to research, education, and outreach with religious communities to enhance climate and eco-literacy at Waquoit Bay, Cape Cod MA, USA. (Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, in press)


salt marsh

by studiojane

“Such mutualism is a pronounced feature of plants and animals at the edge.” –Globe article about the Great Salt Marsh at Crane’s beach

Boston’s last salt marsh:  Belle Island (Suffolk Downs stop on blue line)

closest to my house:  Neponset Saltmarsh

saltmeadow cordgrass

Umass Boston student researching salt marsh restoration in Boston Harbor



inspiration: speculative fictions

by studiojane

one way to describe imagining possibility:


from RMIT University School of Architecture and Design in Melbourne,  Speculative Stories: Narratives in Landscape Architecture.

Speculative narrative and the potential of imagination are important factors in creative production. It is considered that a multitude of small stories are the “quintessential form of imaginative invention”.

Speculation through narrative offers an apparatus through which we may investigate the concept of ‘reality’. Immersed within our current understandings, speculation is influenced by our contemporary condition. In these fictional dispositions, the variables and constraints of ‘reality’ can be controlled, omitted completely or utilized as key motives for the foundations of new territories.

Speculative Narrative can be an exploration of idealistic scenarios, the fossilization of information, or the creation of fantastical realms.

This allows the model of design to move beyond problem solving, crisis management and project liberation from the constraints of our existence. The augmentation through speculative narrative enables the reshaping of current processes, understandings and disciplines.

Speculative Narrative makes it possible to redefine ‘present’ and ‘future’.

Spiral Island

by studiojane

man-made island in Mexico

wave barriers

by studiojane

Biohaven floating islands