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Michael Eason hiking in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to observe Washingtonia filifera in situ
Currently at San Antonio Botanic Garden, Michael's work has...
Amy Byrne | Feb 15, 2023
An exhibition that beautifully depicts and locates oaks
Roderick Cameron | Feb 09, 2023
Burke Oak Collection at New York Botanical Garden
The Coleman and Susan Burke Oak Collection at The New York...
Todd Forrest | Feb 08, 2023

Plant Focus

Quercus xjackiana acorns
The hybrid of Q. alba and Q. bicolor

Two Sides of the Same Coin - a Continent Apart

The visit to Apple Park and the oak plantation there, during the first Post-Conference Tour, brought to mind another place I had written about previously in this blog, that also involved selecting and planting large oaks: the 911 Memorial at the World Trade Center in New York. Located at opposite sides of North America, separated by 48 degrees of longitude but only 3 degrees of latitude, these places offer striking contrasts. They have oaks in common, but are opposites in many ways—even exact opposites:

911 Memorial, New York City. Source: Google Earth
Apple Park, Cupertino, California. Source: Google Earth

- Whereas the concept of the 911 Memorial attempts to anchor in the present a moment from the past, Apple Campus seems to insinuate the future in the present.

- Architecturally, the Memorial is dominated by verticality and straight lines: the invisible presence of the topless towers, the sky-reaching buildings that surround the open space, the square wells that drop into the earth. The campus in Cupertino is about horizontality and curves: the building is a circle encircling a circle and does not rise above four stories, even the glass walls are curved, hardly a straight line in sight.

- The plantation in the Big Apple focuses on one species, swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), 400 trees planted on a strict grid; at Apple Park there are over 60 oak taxa, laid out in an organic, apparently pattern-less plantation.

The precise nature of this contrapuntal relationship is almost disturbing. Chance? As Jorge Luis Borges once said in a lecture on Dante: "...there is no chance; what we call chance is our ignorance of the complex machinery of causality." *

* Borges, Jorge Luis, and Eliot Weinberger. Seven Nights. New Directions, 2009, p.8.