Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

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Princeton, MAINE USA

Thursday, August 03, 2006

‘Orchids to You Bob’

Who was ‘Wm Helis’ and why did he rate a flower arrangement as big as a catamaran?


Impression-making arrangement

Photo: Louisiana State Museum Archives

Senior New Orleans readers (may we have some!) and historians of the U.S. petrochemical industry perhaps know the name ‘William Helis.’ We did not, until encountering this photo in the Louisiana State Museum’s fabulous photo archive—an immense flower arrangement decorated with his name.

William G. Helis was an oil tycoon, which explains something if not everything.

Helis “came to the US from Greece in the 1920s and began to make his fortune dabbling in oil plays in California before turning his attention to Louisiana. Legend has it, says Jay Cooke, current senior petroleum engineer at the venerated independent, that after a major had used its entire budget for an area on what turned out to be two dry holes, Helis paid 100% of the costs for a third well in return for 50% of the take. The resultant well was the Black Bay discovery well that is still flowing after having so far delivered more than a quarter billion barrels of oil.”

The Helis Company, we learn, is still based in New Orleans, with offices on the 9th floor of the Whitney Bank Building after 60 years. Clearly, this item was brought up in the service elevator.

imageIn orchid script

Even for what must have been the top florist in the city, spelling in flowers—like oil exploration—is tricky business. We first read the name at bottom as “Nelis” then “Kelis,” and it took shrinking the image down considerably to descry that the heap of greenery and blossoms spells out “ORCHIDS TO YOU BOB.”

William Helis wasn’t the recipient of these flowers but the sender. Natch. Who but an oil baron could have afforded this?

We’d appreciate hearing from our florist friends about problems of orthography. And we’ll forward this post on to the Helis Company. Because now we must know who Bob was and what he did (drill that third well?) to warrant such a spectacle.



Posted by Julie on 08/03 at 04:02 PM
Culture & SocietyFloristsPermalink

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yunnan- Titan of Asia’s Flower Industry

Flower farmers in Thailand struggle to maintain their livelihood as blooms from China flood the market.


Giant banana flower from Yunnan Province, China

Photo: Nature Products

In the world of cut-flowers, there’s a new contender for capitol/capital: Yunnan. Growers in Chaing Mai, Thailand, already feel the shadow of China’s burgeoning industry, according to this piece by Marwaan Macan-Markar.

” ‘We have been getting a lot of Chinese flowers since two years ago,’’ says Patthama Praephon, 53, (of Fang, Thailand) as she opened a newly arrived box of red roses from China. ‘‘These will be going to the south, to Phuket and Songkhla.’’

“Wholesale flower traders like Patthama, who has been in the business for nearly 30 years, says that the flowers from China are delivered within two days of placing the order. ‘Some of them may be more expensive, but they last longer and are more beautiful.’‘’’

According to this article, a free trade agreement between the two nations, signed in 2003, has already put 40% of Thai farmers out of business. China produced 2 billion stems in 2000, and Beijing plans to double that output by 2010. Though flowers are grown in much of Southern China, the nation’s greenhouse is Yunnan province, known as “Land of Eternal Spring.”

Thailand’s floral hope seems to be its range of orchids (until Chinese farmers learn to grow them, that is). Following the example of the China’s highly successful 1999 Kunming Horticulture Exposition, Thailand will stage an international flower fair of its own later this year. “The event, to be held in Chiang Mai from Nov. 6 to Jan. 31, celebrates two events linked to the country’s revered monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej—his diamond jubilee on the throne and his 80th birthday.”

There’s no denying the bounty of Yunnan, and though there surely are “buy organic” “buy fair” and “buy local” initiatives in the marketing of cut-flowers, thus far buyers seem to be more interested in price and quality than ethics. ‘’‘The demand for flowers depends on the economy but the people don’t know where they come from. They don’t ask,’’ says Samittupat Jarnlan, a flower vendor at Pak Klong Talat. ‘‘The Chinese flowers are here to stay.’”



Posted by Julie on 08/02 at 11:44 AM
Cut-Flower TradePermalink

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hint from Hades

Greet August with a tray of floral ice cubes.


August First Ade: Tea with iced flowers

Our dear late cousin Andy Tweedy had a phrase for this weather: “Hot as the Hinges of Hades.” One survived it with barefeet, late night bridge games and beer on ice.

The Human Flower Project is generally weak on Hints from Heloise but we can offer a Hint from Hades today. The only trick is finding flowers you’re sure are fresh and free of pesticide—those being, of course, grown in your own chem-free garden. Fill an ice-tray half way with water and freeze. Then pick your flowers, wash and gently dry them, remove stems. Drop one on top of each bit of ice, top off the tray with water and freeze again. Violas, dianthus and miniature roses are especially cubi-genic. A big petal will do too.

No more Shiner or Lone Star for you? Try one these delicious drink recipes.

Here’s wishing a Blue Norther to our friends and kin in Knickerbocker, Texas.





Posted by Julie on 08/01 at 11:05 AM
CookingGardening & LandscapePermalink
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