Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

From Safe-Cracking to Rose-Feathering

A new Brit television show “Going Straight” sets up a group of ex-cons under the tutelage of a premiere floral designer.

Can flowers rehabilitate a criminal? “Going Straight,” a reality television show new this season in England, will test that question, or maybe it’s just a good excuse to snicker. Let’s watch a thug wire a rosebud.

Producers of the show say no. An article in the Guardian quotes the program’s executive producer, Hilary Rosen. “We wanted to look at why unemployment and reoffending are such a problem for people who have left prison,” she says. “But we wanted to do something positive - to offer people a chance to help themselves with advice and training.”

Six ex-offenders will work with floral designer Paula Pryke and a business consultant to set up a working shop by Mother’s Day, THE big day for florists in England. The show will track the difficulties ex-convicts face buckling down to an honest living and building public trust, as well as, presumably, keeping iris fresh longer than three days.

For Brits, the show can’t help but allude to “Buster” Edwards. Edwards participated in “The Great Train Robbery,” a notorious 1963 heist, when the Royal Mail Train was relieved of 2.5 million pounds. After his release from the penitentiary, Edwards quietly opened a flower shop outside the Waterloo station. As England’s “Bird Man of Alcatraz,” Edwards and his story intrigued the nation, a surreal combination of ruthless crime and delicate sensibility.

Good luck to the budding florists. Surely they know how Buster’s business ended. He was discovered hanging in his potting shed in 1994. Associates claimed that he’d been in on another string of train robberies, had come under suspicion, and couldn’t bear the idea of being locked up again.



Posted by Julie on 09/22 at 09:53 AM
Art & MediaFloristsPermalink

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Vietnamese Town Capitalizes on “Eternal Spring”

A city in Vietnam’s central highlands plans to open an international flower auction next year, another development in its longstanding romance-for-profit.

Beauty sells itself. Just ask anyone in the travel business who’s booked trips to Sevilla but not Malaga, Niagra Falls not Buffalo.

Just so, the city of Da Lat located 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City has long been a favorite destination of travelers in Vietnam. “Dotted with waterfalls, lakes and evergreen forests, (Da Lat) is often called the City of Eternal Spring and is a favourite spot for honeymoons.”

Asia Pulse reports today that Da Lat plans to build an international flower auction by next year, taking advantage of its year-round temperate climate and adding a pretty business to its architectural and natural attractions. Eco-tourism, it’s not just for Westerners, never has been.

Chinese flower growers and sellers have advanced this year, with exports up 15% in the period January-July, according to today’s Xinhua. And Asia Pulse reports: “Da Lat has recently sent officials to China to learn about organising flower shows.”

Posted by Julie on 09/21 at 10:10 AM
Cut-Flower TradeTravelPermalink

Monday, September 20, 2004

Big City Window-Boxes

Two European architects spruce up homely buildings with vertical gardening.

A huge, plain 10-story apartment building in Paris’s 17th arrondissement has become the city’s tallest planter. Architect Edouard Francois transformed it into a “Flower Tower” with wraparound window-boxes and drip-irrigated bamboo.

Jonathan Glancy reports in today’s Guardian that Francois’s innovation brings shade, life and wind-rustle to an otherwise undistinguished block of the city. The architect “has long observed how, given the chance, Parisians will cultivate the tiniest balcony, nurturing surprising greenery in this tightly packed, densely occupied city. He has formalised this hobby….”

Glancy participated in a similar feat of vertical gardening himself 10 years ago in London, hoping to improve and preserve the Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank: after a design competition, the building was covered with trailing plants.

Francois is also the force behind Montpellier’s “Sprouting Building”. “Straightforward, well-planned apartments were tucked behind what appeared to be a very unlikely rock face, made of concrete covered in a mesh of steel cages filled with loosely compacted stones….

“There was a rush to live here, for not only does each apartment enjoy a more or less enclosed rustic timber balcony - like a potting shed in the sky - but residents knew that, sooner or later, the wall would bloom, as indeed it has.”

Now that’s Urban Renewal, Babylon-style.

Posted by Julie on 09/20 at 12:01 PM
Gardening & LandscapePermalink

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Bad Guys Bloom in Sayles Movie

In the new film by director John Sayles, Silver City ,  the old association of flowers with evil rises again.

There’s a big vase of flowers beside the dastardly preacher’s pulpit. When fictional Colordao senator Richard Pilager welcomes big-time donors to his mansion in the mountains, red roses and gerber daisies festoon the banquet table. Even the parade for El Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead, with its loads of traditional marigolds, is directed by a cruel coyote who exploits and even murders immigrant workers.

John Sayles’s new movie Silver City tips us which characters are his bad guys: they’re the ones with flowers on hand. Even the wicked lobbyist, who’s snaked our hero’s girlfriend, has a big basket of red chrysanthemums on his front porch.

As anthropologist Jack Goody discusses in his magnum opus The Culture of Flowers , flowers have been associated with depravity in many eras. After the Roman Empire fell, early Christian church leaders forbad flowers except for medicinal use. Other phases of austerity have followed. By linking flower blossoms with the black hats in his latest release, John Sayles proves that this old association is alive and well.

Posted by Julie on 09/19 at 02:11 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyPermalink
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