While we’re on the subject of PrimatePoetics!, I’m intrigued by their “Crypto–Forests of Utrecht” series, which kicked off back in October 2009. It’s an ongoing exploration of botanical landscapes in and around Utrecht, Netherlands, that have sprung back from aggressive anthropological intervention. Weed patches in which the earliest emergent traces of a thicket can be found; clusters of trees growing semi-feral on the edges of railroad yards; forgotten courtyards sprouting with random saplings unplanted by any hand: these are all crypto-forests.
Each example of this type of landscape, PrimatePoetics! explains, is “almost entirely hidden from view and very few people know about it.” Each is “a forest grown in the shadow of neglect, private ownership and municipal refusal.” Each is a landscape that has been “left to fallow” but then spurts back in spikes of weedy regrowth, becoming “unnoteworthy from all angles, but pretty large when you are inside it.”
All of them together would make an amazing travel guide or landscape pamphlet—a short tour through minor quasi-forests around the city of Utrecht (or elsewhere). I’m tempted to launch a global “crypto-forestry” group on Flickr for documenting exactly this sort of thing—in fact, I’ve gone ahead and done so. Feel free to contribute, if you’re in the mood, burgeoning scholars of urban weeds. Photographic documents of minor landscapes on the rebound; urban forests in their earliest, stunted stage; insurgent fringes of suburbia coming back to vitality; derelict groves extending underground roots. The return of the botanical repressed.