Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gardening in Prison

Do prison gardens teach job skills only, or are there social and emotional benefits from pulling weeds and watering “on the inside”? Georgia Silvera Seamans reflects and gathers some of the research, too.


Alcatraz inmate and gardener Joseph A. Simpson

Photo: Maggie Hallahan

By Georgia Silvera Seamans

I have lived in the San Franciso Bay Area for four years but never visited the island of Alcatraz.  I have postponed such a visit, waiting to take an out of town guest.  It seemed like a trip you would take once and preferably with a tourist.  But I came across a story about the gardens of Alcatraz in Via—the magazine for members of AAA, the American Automotive Association. Here were artichokes, agaves, and roses planted in the early 1900s as well as blackberry bushes and bulbs – some of the 140 plant species that grow on the island—blooming good reasons to visit anytime. The former federal prison, I learned, is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the National Park Service and the Garden Conservancy have partnered to restore plant life on the island.

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Posted by Julie on 07/30 at 12:48 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fishing with a Plastic Mimosa

Fly-fishing will never be the same in Costa Rica, as Peter Gorinsky masters the art of tying floral lures.

imageMachaca caught

with a floral fly

Rio Niño, Costa Rica

Photo: Peter Gorinsky

Costa Rica’s shiny machaca sure looks like a cannibal. And for all we know about fishing (nada), it may be – but January through March, when the jacaranda trees, mimosas and others bloom along Rio Niño, this toothy fish goes vegan –  it prefers flowers to flesh.

We were thrilled to find James Proseck’s article several weeks back in the Sports section of the New York Times (not usually good trolling for human-flower stories). Proseck described a fly-fishing trip in Costa Rica with guide Peter Gorinsky, who this spring began making flowery flies as lures.

“Gorinsky dropped the anchor and pointed to a shaded spot against the bank,” Proseck recounts. “One could see fish’s mouths poking out of the water to take the drifting flowers. In some cases, the fish were eating the flowers with forceful and splashy abandon.”

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Posted by Julie on 07/28 at 04:15 PM
Gardening & LandscapeSecular CustomsTravelPermalink

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kinzy Faire ~ Barber Meets Champagne Cork

A pair of tenacious Oregon gardeners walk the high-wire “between order and chaos.” Horticulturist (and lifelong learner) Allen Bush takes us along.


Linda Beutler leads a horticulture class at Kinzy Faire,

Millie Kiggins and Penny Vogel’s garden near Estacada, OR

Photo: Allen Bush

By Allen Bush

Ferris Bueller might not have skipped school if he had been taking Linda Beutler’s herbaceous perennials class. (Ferris, you may remember, was the mischievous high school boy who took a day-long romp in a “borrowed” 1961 Ferrari 250 GT in the 1986 comedy film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. )

Instead, he would have been happily motoring in Beutler’s school van, making the slow trip to Kinzy Faire, the beautiful private garden near Estacada, Oregon.

Clackamas Community College in Oregon City has a respected horticulture curriculum designed to train gardeners and serve Oregon’s nursery industry – a leading U.S. producer of ornamental trees and shrubs, now approaching one billion dollars in annual revenues. Linda Beutler, an author and expert on Clematis and flower arranging, is teaching the class this summer.

She introduced eleven students to the two extraordinary women of Kinzy Faire, Millie Kiggins and and Penny Vogel, who have been on their own long, wonderful ride.

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Posted by Julie on 07/25 at 05:08 PM
Gardening & LandscapePermalink

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bengali Weddings ~  What’s the Rush?

Making marriages to last (or so they hope), Bengali Hindus bring carved marsh-reeds, grass bracelets, marigolds and tuberoses to the altar.


Rituparna Basu on the eve of her wedding in Kolkata;

a priest and family members gather to bless her and

the wedding crowns, made of shola.

Photo: Sandy Ao

Indian couples typically don’t hurry into marriage. Even circa 2008, many parents still choose their children’s life partners, often picking out spouses years in advance.

If that weren’t enough of a brake, there are so many other customs to slow things down…ornately…devoutly…florally. Who could possibly elope where there are conch shells to blow, spongegrass crowns to make, bracelets to tie on, holy water to sprinkle, marigolds to purchase, nose rings to rig, and vermillion to daub?

In February, the wedding season in Bengal, Sandy Ao had the joy of attending two Kolkata weddings (three actually, because two couples shared ceremonies). Over the past few weeks she’s showered us with some of most splendid images we’ve seen in nearly four years of HFP.  Flowers and plants play bigger roles in Bengali weddings than do bridesmaids (or even caterers) in U.S. celebrations. Without further ado…

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Posted by Julie on 07/23 at 10:31 PM
Culture & SocietyReligious RitualsPermalink
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