Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Saturday, February 26, 2005

More Than a Burst of Yellow

Daffodil deliveries across North America will soon begin, a human flower project to fight disease.

imageIf you don’t know someone with cancer, you need to get out more. Nearly all of us have experienced this disease—first hand or through a friend.

Maybe that’s why the Canadian Cancer Society decided to make the friendliest of flowers its emblem. Daffodil Days, the organization’s big spring fundraiser, begins at staggered spring times across North America (in July in Australia). It depends, of course, on when the daffodils come into bloom.

Boston’s chapter of the American Cancer Society has been taking orders for March 21 delivery. The project is estimated to raise $1.4 million this year in Massachusetts alone. Daffodil Days in the U.S. Midwest will make deliveries sooner. Bouquets start at $7 a bunch there. Since the custom began in the U.S., it’s raised $176 million “for research, education, advocacy, and patient service programs.”

The philanthropic flower custom began in Toronto in the 1950s.

“A group of Canadian Cancer Society volunteers organized a fundraising tea and decided to decorate the tables with daffodils. The bright, cheerful flowers created an atmosphere that seemed to radiate hope and faith that cancer could be beaten. Soon these gatherings came to be known as Daffodil Teas.

“Jackie Brockie, a volunteer who worked at Eaton’s (a large department store), supported the idea of Daffodil Teas and arranged for Lady Eaton to host a Tea in the store. Seven hundred women attended.

“Another volunteer, Lane Knight, arranged for restaurants to give part of their receipts to the Society on the opening day of the residential canvass in 1956. Canadian Cancer Society volunteers were on hand at local restaurants to give patrons a daffodil when they paid for their meals as a token of appreciation. The sight of so many daffodils being carried around the city created interest. When some recipients tried to pay for the flowers or make donations, the Society quickly realized that the sale of daffodils would generate additional revenue.”

Nothing like flowers to turn heads and, in this case, raise consciousness!

“Today the Canadian Cancer Society is the world’s largest purchaser of daffodils and the growers in British Columbia must arrange their plantings to accommodate the Society’s spring demand for live blooms.”

To order your daffodils and find out more contact the Canadian Cancer Society, or in the U.S. the American Cancer Society (for you phone-people: 1-800-ACS-2345). You may order flowers for yourself or for a friend, or arrange to have daffodils sent anonymously to a cancer patient in your vicinity.

Posted by Julie on 02/26 at 10:16 AM
Secular CustomsPermalink

Friday, February 25, 2005

New Roses and the Zeitgeist

The 2005 roses have arrived at the supermarket.

You don’t hear people use the word Zeitgeist much anymore. It used to be tossed around to mean “the spirit of the times.” Maybe today’s times are too disjointed, or too dispirited to suggest a defining theme.

imageTuscan Sun, 2005

At my local H.E.B. supermarket, the roses have arrived in stacks. And yesterday, this story

introduced the most promising new varieties. “Tuscan Sun, Jackson & Perkins’s Floribunda of the Year, bears generous clusters of apricot buds opening to high-centered, bronze-blushed blossoms that age to coppery pink.” And for more strictly pink-rose people, there’s “Aromatherapy” whose blossoms “exude their sweet fragrance for days in long-lasting arrangements.”

Zeitgeist or no, these are 2005 rose names to be sure.

imageProsperity, 1919

The San Jose Heritage Rose Garden website includes a terrific year by year listing of the hybrid teas introduced over the past 100+plus years. 1919 featured “Prosperity,” and during the Roaring Twenties, “Pink Pearl” and “Shot Silk” came on the market.  By 1930, a more serious mood named roses “President Herbert Hoover,” “Vanguard” and “Thomas A. Edison.” There was “V for Victory” in 1941.

imagePresident Herbert Hoover, 1930

Looking for time-bound roses, my favorites debuted in the 1950s: “Chrysler Imperial,” “Flamingo,” “Grace de Monaco,” and “Hamburger Phoenix.” Does anyone if the Hamburger Phoenix rose is brown?

The Puff era brought us “Magic Dragon” and “Pied Piper” both in 1969. “Seiko” appeared in 1975, and “Hotline” in 1981.”

To know the spirit of an age, why not begin with its “new” roses, a good idea whether there’s a Zeigeist or not.

Posted by Julie on 02/25 at 02:25 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dandelion—Follow the Italians and Bears

Familiarity has bred contempt for this delicious and beautiful wildflower.

Emily Green of the Los Angeles Times plays Atticus Finch, in defense of dandelions. Before spraying Ortho across this spring’s crop, read this article and open your mind.

imageTaraxacum officinale

Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden

Long before the 17th century, dandelion had been cultivated in Europe “the greens for salads and frying, the root as a medicinal herb, the flower for wine.” Green’s article reports that there may be as many as 2000 species in the world.

Though the greens are a delicious source of iron, copper, potassium, calcium and magnesium, “outside a select band of salad lovers, we Americans stubbornly refuse to partake. For the salad gardener, it is almost unbearable. If only we were as smart as Italians. If only we had the taste of grizzly bears.”

Each yellow flower “is actually a cluster of more than 100 tiny flowers called ‘ray florets.’ As the florets mature, they drop away, leaving the parachute-like seeds poised on puffballs, waiting for a child’s breath or spring breeze to set a new crop.” Blooming dandelions wilt too fast to pose in a vase but, with sugar and fruit juice, can be made into golden wine. “Be sure,” Green advises, “to clip off all the green, keep just the florets and make sure the area hasn’t been sprayed with a pesticide.”

In astrology, dandelion belongs to Pisces, 12th and last sign of the solar year. Happy birthday to Jacque, and all our fellow fish.

Posted by Julie on 02/24 at 11:30 AM
CookingCulture & SocietyPermalink

Queer Etiquette

Are flowers appropriate on a first date?

The staff of, an online news and entertainment site aimed at gays and lesbians, includes etiquette advisor Social Grace. Yesterday’s question:

Dear Social Grace,

When I was younger (and pseudo-straight), it was customary to bring flowers to the door, or some type of florally thing, when I showed up at a woman’s house for a date.

What do I bring a guy? Is this even necessary? I would feel good if it were done to me, but I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to schmooze the guy too much, and I think flowers for a man is a little too much…..

I’m no Miss Manners, but S.G.‘s advice strikes me as sound for daters of all orientations.

“...With most first dates (unless you already know the person well), showing up at the door with a gift is not strictly necessary—a first date is often a ‘compatibility test.’ And an informal poll I conducted suggests that a majority of single people would, indeed, find first-date flowers a bit over the top.”

That said, there are, of course, people of all persuasions who LIKE “over the top.” Please send us your views.

Posted by Julie on 02/24 at 10:38 AM
Culture & SocietySecular CustomsPermalink
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