Thursday, January 1, 2009

In Orlando New Is Old

When I visited Orlando, Florida last spring, I noticed that in the older neighborhoods, such as College Park, some of the “cutting edge” ideas for sustainable landscaping and stormwater management had already being practiced there in the 1920s. In these neighborhoods, small bungalows were built in clusters, preserving large yards with trees near the homes to keep them cool in the hot summers. Parks were created in low-lying areas with small lakes excavated to receive an overabundance of stormwater. Old fashioned pavers used in the streets allow for permeability, and sidewalks were included in all developments to encourage walking to local errands and activities. And the trees in these neighborhoods are still thriving. It is not just bed space and year round sunshine that helps them flourish, old fashioned pavers allow stormwater to be absorbed into the ground and provide enough moisture to support a healthy canopy in between storms.

Camphor trees create a great perfume as in the air, as well as shade for sitting on porches and a great structure for children to climb.

Live Oak trees covered in Spanish moss give the streets a very distinctive southern character. The azaleas were in bloom when I was there, and seemed almost magical under the branches covered in Spanish moss.

However, even in the sunshine state there are conflicts between trees and overhead wires, as well as other curbside uses, such as garbage collection.