Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Floral Trophies

Louisville was spared deadly weather but still broke records this spring with warm temperatures. Allen Bush shares the trophies.

imageAquilegia canadensis ‘Pink lanterns

Photo: Allen Bush

By Allen Bush

It’s been a record-breaking late winter and early spring in Kentucky. A tornado, the deadliest to hit the Ohio Valley since 1974, clobbered Henryville, Indiana. We spent a couple of hours in the basement on March 2nd under tornado watch but were spared the eight twisters that churned a path from southern Indiana to eastern Kentucky. These storms, with violent winds and hail the size of soft balls, put everyone on edge. But we got off easy.

The other fixation was University of Kentucky’s 8th collegiate basketball championship. Though record-breaking weather never gets a trophy presentation, it’s big news when the weather veers toward extremes. In Louisville this March, the prize went neither to tornadoes nor hail but to much warmer weather.

Instead of daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s, we had nine days with summer-like heat in the 80s. You had to hold onto your hat to keep-up with the flurry of blooms. There hasn’t been a trace of frost since March 10th.  The luscious blooms of Asian saucer and star Magnolias usually turn brown when they are routinely hit by a March freeze, but not this year, nor for the last three years, which must be a record. They were stunning this spring but had to hurry through flowering to make way for the rest of the floral parade.


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Posted by Julie on 04/12 at 01:48 PM
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Friday, April 06, 2012

Under the Lash of Beauty

Our rose failures outnumber our successes, but it’s spring. Who’s counting?

imageView from inside Wanda’s house, Smithville, Texas 4/5/12

Photo: Human Flower Project

Roses we have killed:




Great Western


Coquette des Blanches

Zepherine Drouhin

Mme Isaac Perriere


Is that enough? Considering that memory’s not all that thorough, especially where failures are concerned, we’ve likely underreported.

Fantasies we have entertained, with varying degrees of persistence:

the Texas State Domino championship

daily meditation

landing an academic job in the Sociology of Culture at middle age

an up-do

learning Czech

expecting a thank-you note from anyone under 30 (make that 35)

getting a feature story in the NY Times Magazine

good posture

starting to play the accordion at age 58

(Definite under-reporting here.)

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Posted by Julie on 04/06 at 09:12 PM
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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Pollination Racket

A new study of birds finds that human noise is tough on pines but a boon to skyrocket flowers.


Will earplugs be the next trendy gardening accessory, this year’s Crocs?

New research by Clinton D. Francis and his colleagues suggest that in some environments anyway, noise may actually improve flower pollination. It’s a finding that will much dismay those of us who think of puttering outside as a respite from racket.

Francis and his team examined the effects of noise on plant pollination by setting up experimental stations at two spots within the Rattlesnake Canyon Wildlife Area in northwestern New Mexico. One location was relatively quiet, but the other was adjacent to a natural gas well operation, with big machinery and compressors at work around the clock.

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Posted by Julie on 04/03 at 02:40 PM
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Profligacy Is the Best Policy

Not one to be “designed,” poppies have a field day this March in Texas.


The March poppy crop, Austin, TX, more on the way

Photo: Human Flower Project

“I cannot get too many Renoirs,” Albert Barnes confided to friend and fellow art collector Leo Stein, 1913.

We know the feeling, except our greediness grasps in other directions – accordions, Triscuits, poppies.

It started out innocently enough, with seed from Ellen Zimmermann – the salmon colored and fluffy Shirley poppy she called ‘Dorothy Cavenaugh’ for her friend, the former president of Austin’s herb society. Those beauties performed so well in the side yard, we tried some red papaver somniferum. (We understand why the Afghan farmers go for this crop – it’s a cinch.)

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Posted by Julie on 03/27 at 04:31 PM
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