Human Flower Project
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
‘Delicious stuff’—Halloween 2006
Fractal by Dzeni
Auckland, New Zealand
A Trenta-Sei of the Pleasure
We Take in the Early Death of Keats
It is old school custom to pretend to be sad
when we think about the early death of Keats.
The species-truth of the matter is we are glad.
Psilanthropic among exegetes,
I am so moved that when the plate comes by
I almost think to pay the god—but why?
When we think about the early death of Keats
we are glad to be spared the bother of dying ourselves.
His poems are a candy-store of bitter-sweets.
We munch whole flights of angels from his shelves
drooling a sticky glut, almost enough
to sicken us. But what delicious stuff!
The species-truth of the matter is we are glad
to have a death to munch on. Truth to tell,
we are also glad to pretend it makes us sad.
When it comes to dying, Keats did it so well
we thrill to the performance. Safely here,
this side of the fallen curtain, we stand and cheer.
Psilanthropic among the exegetes,
as once in a miles-high turret spitting flame,
I watched boys flower through orange winding sheets
and shammed a mourning because it put a name
to a death I might have taken—which in a way
made me immortal for another day—
I was so moved that when the plate came by
I had my dollar in hand to give to death
but changed to a penny—enough for the old guy,
and almost enough to sweeten my breath
with a toast I will pledge to the Ape of the Divine
in thanks for every death that spares me mine.
I almost thought of paying the god—but why?
Had the boy lived, he might have grown as dull
as Tennyson. Far better, I say, to die
and leave us a formed feeling. O beautiful,
pale, dying poet, fading as soft as rhyme,
the saddest music keeps the sweetest time.
John Ciardi (1916-1986)
(Psilanthropic, a word Ciardi invented, combines the Greek psilos (mere) and anthropos (mankind) – that is to say, “merely human.”)
Monday, October 30, 2006
To Sleep Like a King, Lavenderly
How do you sense Hospitality?
In the morning, chez Ben, Bourbon County, KY
Photo: Julie Ardery
We have now slept like royalty. This did not require wearing a jewel-encrusted stocking cap, praying with a bishop or dreaming of lances. It was a matter of spending the night at the house of cousin Ben. Despite a major health debacle, which prevents him from walking, he still rolls out the red carpet. A guest feels like a queen.
Here was our bedroom. How many flowers to you detect? Delphiniums, daisies, yes. But did you miss the duvet? Its shade of blue is a hint. Ben had stuffed this bedcover with lavender from his garden. When we lay down, the scent at first was powerfully stimulating, as in GOOD HOLY YIKES! After a few deep breaths, though, we were off to LavenderLand.
This herb, which maintained some civility during many plumbing-poor centuries, has come back strong. There are loads of companies big, and mainly small, selling lavender soap, sachets, pillows, eye-compresses, teas, all to soothe you. One claims that lavender can “induce sleep, ease stress and relieve depression. It is also used as a tea, to make compresses for dressing wounds and to apply to the forehead to relieve congestion on sinuses, headaches, hangovers, tiredness, tension and exhaustion.” Just about everything but bend over for the morning newspaper and pay the veterinarian.
We’ve learned that Charles VI of France was especially fond of lavender. He’s said to have “calmed his nerves by sitting upon lavender filled cushions.” Lavendula spica also kept the moths from eating all the palace tapestries. England’s Queen Elizabeth the First preferred her lavender in jelly on the table.
On an earlier visit to Ben’s farm, between Paris and Cynthiana, Kentucky, we sampled some lavender honey. Not to be unduly impressed with his own experiments, Ben remarked that it tasted “like cough syrup.”
And truly, all that night beneath the lavender duvet, we didn’t cough once. Thank you for your hospitality, Ben.
Cooking • Culture & Society • Secular Customs • Travel • Permalink
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Dutch Auctions Merge Their Might
FloraHolland and Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer join foces, not to be outdone by new global flower centers.
Shuttling flowers at FloraHolland’s auction
Photo: Kleurige Kunst
As the global flower industry bubbles with change, the world’s two biggest and most distinguished rival auctions, both in the Netherlands, are going into business together—the better to stay on top.
And how. India, a huge producer AND consumer of flowers, has opened a Flower Centre near Mumbai, though operations there seem to be still in a developmental phase. Closer than the Netherlands to both the Indian and the African flower farms, Dubai is an up and comer. Designed initially as an efficient transportation hub, in the longer term, Dubai plans “a warehouse Freezone for value-added functions, including the creation of bouquets. The ultimate intention is to develop a flower auction, like in Amsterdam,” said a spokesperson.
And perhaps the biggest incentive for the Dutch firms to rally comes from China. This fine paper gives an excellent overview of the world flower market, its history and some of the possibilities emerging in Asia. Heidi C. Wernett notes that Holland’s flower centers have managed to build and maintain their centrality not just through the volume of flower sales but through their leadership in research, production, marketing, standardization, education, and flower handling, having been THE innovators in all these fields—until now, anyway.
FloraHolland’s facility at Rijnsburg
“The European flower industry exports more than just flowers,” writes Wernett. The Netherlands also sells industrial equipment to growers and packagers, as well as exporting its marketing practices and agricultural know-how. “Even floral design concepts have been defined by the European flower industry.”
Last year, the combined sales of FloraHolland and Aalsmeer amounted to $4.68 billion USD. That’s more than the Gross National Income of Laos or Niger. It’s twice the GNI of Kyrgyzstan and more the FIVE TIMES the Gross National Income of Burundi.
The merged companies, to be called FloraHolland, will officially begin business together January 1, 2008. Worldwide, there’s bound to be lots of facility-building, flower growing, buying and competing between now and then.
Friday, October 27, 2006
An Eye for an “i”
The orchid experts draw swords—nearly—over a vowel. Many thanks to Greg Allikas for this glimpse into the politics of botanical names.
Photo: Greg Allikas
The national flower of Colombia is a beautiful orchid by the name of Cattleya trianae, or as this report contends, Cattleya trianaei. The species was discovered as early as 1842, when Jean Linden came across it in Colombia. But it was another decade before these plants flowered in Europe. By 1855, Linden was offering them for sale in his catalog as Cattleya trianae, dedicated to José M. Triana, author of Flora Colombiana, and the man who sent the first substantial quantities of the orchid to Europe.
H. G. Reichenbach described the orchid in 1860, spelling it Cattleya trianaei, to reflect the male gender of José Triana. But for the next hundred years nearly everyone, including Linden, Sanders, Veitch and the RHS International Orchid Registry, dropped the “i” and spelled the species “trianae,” as it’ s pronounced tri-AN-ee.
And so it was spelled for many years until Mrs. L. Sherman Adams of Wellesley, Massachusetts, began lobbying to restore the correct spelling of this national flower of Colombia. The movement made temporary progress. As Carl Withner reports in Volume 1 of his The Cattleyas and their Relatives, “As of the 1961-70 Addendum to Sander’s List of Orchid Hybrids published by the RHS, the name is to be spelled with an “i” at the end…all is secure once again!”
Of course, as with most situations like this, both names persisted throughout the 20th century, a confused coexistence where many people (self included), unsure which was correct, just used the shorter version because it looked easier to pronounce.
A decade or so ago, however, a team of scientists at Kew began DNA research on orchids. The results were not only novel, they have shaken the foundations of orchid nomenclature. Kew began publishing these new names as the “Monocot Checklist.”
A few years ago the American Orchid Society settled upon using Kew’s checklist as its own official source of orchid names to avoid further confusion; Kew had decided to keep the shorter, feminized spelling: Cattleya trianae.
Adelaida de Bohmer and her collection of Cattleya trianaei
Cali, Colombia (1999)
Photo: Greg Allikas
The September 2006 issue of the AOS magazine, featuring an article about 20th century orchid growers H. Patterson & Sons, mentions this Colombian Cattleya throughout. Because the AOS has adopted the Monocot Checklist as its official source of orchid names, the editor dutifully removed the “i” from the end of every instance of C. trianaei in the article.
Its author, Jeff Bradley, is a dedicated grower of cattleyas who specializes in collecting old and rare cultivars. A thorough researcher , Bradley demands accuracy. He was astounded that the magazine editor had changed the spelling of C. trianaei to the incorrect, C. trianae, but understood the reason. He then wrote Mark Chase at Kew, one of the researchers involved with the Monocot Checklist, and was essentially told that Kew had no intention of restoring the correct spelling. In a personal communication, Jeff told me that he has rallied the troops, including Carl Withner in Seattle, Ernest Hetherington in California and A.A. Chadwick in Delaware. Jeff has begun a petition to publish the correct spelling in Taxon, and as he said, “Once done, that will be the end of it.”
Meanwhile, the AOS has formed an ad hoc committee to discuss future protocol for verifying correct plant names at their Members Meetings in St. Louis next month. The venue for these meetings is somewhat ironic. Many in the organization feel that instead of the Kew list, we should be using a domestic product, Missouri Botanical Garden’s VAST nomenclatural database. We will wait to see if new policy is adopted, if not for many exceptional orchids, at least for Colombia’s Cattleya trianaei.