Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Saturday, September 20, 2008

St. Michael’s Garden: Turn the Pages

There’s a link between literature and botany, and two professors at a Vermont college are bearing that out.


Harry Potter book and a remembrance of Aunt Petunia

Books in Bloom, St. Michael’s College, Burlington, VT

Photo: St. Michael’s College

The people most attuned to flowers tend to be book people, too.  Why is that? Our hero Jack Goody, the late anthropologist of Cambridge, offered proof but never really ventured an explanation. He wrote that the civilizations that developed early writing systems, elaborate ones—China and India—also cultivated the richest floral traditions.

“The appearance of flowers is linked, strongly but not exclusively,” Goody found, “to the use of the brush or pen on flat, portable media such as paper, hide, cotton and canvas, and to the motor skills associated with writing.” (The Culture of Flowers, p. 20)

At St. Michael’s College, Burlington, Vermont, two professors have demonstrated this affinity—literally, and literarily. Education professor Valerie Bang-Jensen, biologist Mark Lubkowitz, and their students have constructed “Books in Bloom,” a living botanical library of children’s literature.



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Posted by Julie on 09/20 at 12:57 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyGardening & LandscapeScienceSecular CustomsPermalink

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Where’s a Nanoflower When You Need One?

Chinese chemists have made a floral breakthrough and created a better battery, but not in time for millions of people across the U.S., still in the dark after Hurricane Ike.

imageConventional (?) flower flashlight

Photo: Schylling Toys

This morning my 87-year-old mother and 94-year-old father stopped by a local hardware store looking for D batteries. They’d tried three other stores: all sold out.

“Yes, we have some,” said the clerk, “but we’re limiting each customer to only eight.” So eight it was.

My folks have been without electricity since Sunday. They don’t live in Galveston or Houston, but three states and 1000 miles away from where Hurricane Ike made landfall. A bizarre confluence of weather conditions—hot surface temperatures and a cold front descending from the northwest—met Overland Ike as it reached the Ohio River Valley. It produced a 5 hour windstorm in Louisville, KY, my folks’ hometown. More than 200,000 people there are still without electricity four days later.

One sister-in-law (an angel of mercy—still without power herself) brought by three battery powered lanterns for my parents to use in the lengthening “interim.” My mother’s solution of candlelight, while romantic, has already set off the smoke alarm twice.

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Posted by Julie on 09/18 at 03:05 PM

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Paris Garden with Iron Bones

Strong on geometry (and previously, on KFC wrappers, too), an abandoned stretch of Paris has become a community garden, 300 members strong. Nature Deficit Disorder, adieu!

imageGraffiti and petunias mingle in Les Jardins du Ruisseau, Paris

Photo: Allen Bush

By Allen Bush

André Le Nôtre and Claude Monet, respective talents behind the historic gardens of Versailles and Giverny, used straight lines in their designs. Strong bones make good gardens. Les Jardins du Ruisseau came ready-made with straight lines - an old abandoned Paris rail line. Even with adjacent looming apartment buildings, Le Nôtre might have thought the gardens insufficiently palatial, but Monet would have liked the bright yellow sunflowers and orange nasturtiums.

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Posted by Julie on 09/15 at 04:38 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapeTravelPermalink

Friday, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Was a Harpsichord Painter

Why embellish a musical instrument with flowers? Maybe, it’s to say “Author! Author!” with the sub-or-superhuman in mind.


Detail from a harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers

Musikinstrumenten-Museum, Berlin

Photo: Margaret Adie

“Hi, my name is Kelly and I’ll be your waiter.”

Have you noticed there’s a glut of identification? Not only are we drummed into knowing the proper names of hurricanes and tennis shoes, we also must know the names of Sarah Palin’s daughter’s boyfriend (Levi Johnston) and every groomsman at a wedding (all have short bios in the programme).

Gratefully, we identify the inspiration for this post: Margaret Adie. Artist and bowmaker, Margaret visited Berlin over the summer with her daughter (Megan, if you must know). Both being musicians, they headed for the city’s Musical Instrument Museum (Musikinstrumenten-Museum).

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Posted by Julie on 09/12 at 04:05 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyTravelPermalink
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