Human Flower Project
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Oops a Daisy ~ Plant Idioms
Georgia Silvera Seamans takes us down the primrose path, into a thicket of botanical phrases. Let’s pile on the plant idioms, old chestnuts and new hybrids.
“Raking the Hayfield”
a.k.a. “Making Hay” (with Cherokee roses)
Painting: Walt Curlee
Make hay while the sun shines. Well, I don’t have a grass field so I cannot make hay, but I can take advantage of the sunlight and warm weather in Berkeley, California. With all that brightness, how could I hit the hay?!
As I write, it’s the third January day in a row of high-60 degree weather, clear skies, and sunshine. I spent Saturday helping to create a bird garden, a grassroots project, in the Mission District of San Francisco and Sunday walking some of Berkeley’s paths. You could say I’m a rolling stone; I gathered no moss this weekend. I did not want to let the grass grow under my feet. There are always fun volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area. For example, today, as part of the MLK Service Weekend, I will be participating in the California Indigenous Habitat Activists/ Ohlone Greenway restoration project. Next Monday, I will be planting fruit trees in Preservation Park in Berkeley. Volunteering in the Bay Area is not like finding a needle in a haystack. One could say it’s a bowl of cherries—even a bed of roses. (Though Portland, Oregon, is known as the City of Roses, I observe so many yards of roses in Berkeley. There is also the famous Rose Garden in Berkeley, and one in Oakland, too.)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Urmas Laansoo: Let’s Moss Crawl
Allen Bush introduces us to an Estonian plantsman who specializes in lichens and pillowcases. Thank you, Allen.
Hallan Kivisaar’s sculpture garden, Estonia
Photo: Allen Bush
By Allen Bush
I traveled to Austria and Italy with The Ratzeputz Gang in September 1991 to visit nurseries and gardens. My favorite memory is a leisurely luncheon on nurseryman Lorenzo Crescini’s hillside near Brescia (Italian plant hunting requires eight-course nourishment and Barbaresco wine). Before heading back to North Carolina, where I had my own nursery at the time, I left my horticultural running mates and flew to England, making a beeline to Cambridgeshire. It was dark by the time I arrived at Joe Sharman’s home - too dark to look around for new perennials at Sharman’s Monksilver Nursery, a few miles down the road.
It was dinnertime. Sharman’s’ business partner, Alan Leslie, was there. He works full-time as a botanist at the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Wisley in Surrey and comes-up on weekends to tend to nursery chores. Joe’s mother prepared a nice meal for a table of gardeners and guests. It felt like a tiny arena. Hundreds of books were stacked high like bleachers around the edges of the dimly lighted room. There was plenty of jostling Latin binomial nomenclature at ringside.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Don’t Forget to Check the Swamp
Stumbling upon a strange new variety of garlands at the flower market, Sandy Ao starts clicking and minds start bending. Clue: this plant is also a salt slaker.
What is it? A discovery at the Mullickghat flower market
Photo: Sandy Ao
A red mystery’s been brewing here at HFP… ever since photographer Sandy Ao celebrated the New Year with a trip to the Mullickghat flower market in Kolkata and returned with a novelty to share. The Mullickghat vendors this day were selling long garlands of plants (or plant parts?) the likes of which she had never come across before.
“At one glance, these garlands look so plastic. But they are not!” Sandy wrote. “I have not seen the real flower; again it is a flower pod, like the woodrose,” a plant she introduced to us back in 2007. “I was informed that this pod contains lots of honey… and bees love it,” she wrote, adding, “They do smell very honey!”
But what are these honeyed spiders?
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Slanting light and bare branches electrify memory and switch on the gardener’s nerve. Thank you, John.
Pollarded willows near Fen Causeway
by the River Cam— Cambridge, England
Photo: John Levett
By John Levett
Winter suits some places and not others. Winter suits Berlin. I’ve never seen it in any other season; walk in the right places and everything’s grey. Then again, there’s Winter light that catches memories for me that no other season does. Catching the mid-afternoon sun off a clock face by Great St. Mary’s opposite King’s College and back to a Friday afternoon in 1970 walking up Liverpool’s Edge Hill to the Metropolitan cathedral to sit in warmth under stained glass in a small side chapel after a teaching week of memorable despair; walking across Fen Causeway at dusk and thence to 1963 and student efforts to film King Lear (after seeing Scofield’s at the Aldwych) on a football pitch in South London (the closest we could get to a heath that day).
Winter’s useful for garden planning too. Everything that went into the wrong hole last year; right hole, wrong depth; right hole, right depth, no sun; hole, depth, sun, no space; wrong plan; right plan, wrong continent. Bared.
In 1980 I had a plan that worked, more-or-less. The right plants in the right number for the plot I’d got. Plants in the garden, plants in the greenhouse, plants in the conservatory (the lean-to nailed onto the back wall). Cuttings taken each year, potted up, planted out. Seeds sown, bulbs trowelled, alpines troughed, delphiniums unclumped, clematis trailed. Readied for traditional deckchairs, lemonade, fruit salad, straw hats, fine novels and Sunday morning newspapers in not-too-many-months time. Winter promised it. It was the Golden Age of my gardening. In my dreams.
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