Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sennufer’s Lotus May Bloom Again

Will Egypt put Sennufer’s elaborate garden back on the map, palms, pools and all? After 34 centuries, it’s time.

imageSennufer (gardener to the Pharaohs) with lotus flower

Tomb of the Vineyards, Luxor

Image: Tour Egypt

So far as we know, Sennufer is the highest ranking gardener of all time. He lived in the 14th Century BC, and oversaw the fields and vineyards of two Egyptian Pharaohs. Among his many titles were Chancellor to Amenhotep II, Overseer of the Granaries of Amen, and even High Priest of Amen in Menisut. We know some pretty uppity gardeners but Sennufer has them outranked – and outlasted.

In his day the tomb, not the clothes, made the man.  Sennufer’s extensive, embellished burial chambers at modern-day Luxor prove he was a big shot in his own time and recommend him to ours, 34 centuries later.

According to garden historian Tom Turner, Sennufer also left behind one of the earliest surviving garden plans – a marvelously detailed painting with lily pools, palm trees, and “a central vine-shaded courtyard, presumably for outdoor living.” (“Garden rooms” are nothing new.)

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Posted by Julie on 03/13 at 11:43 AM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapeTravelPermalink

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Turn and a Chamomile Lawn

With the mulch hoed in and everything to look forward to, John Levett declares (and snaps) early spring in Cambridge.

imageGarden with a meadow history

Little St. Mary’s

Cambridge, England

Photo: John Levett

By John Levett

I have to hurry.  I have a note on my desk: “Don’t let the year run away from you!” There’s a note in my (occasional) diary: “Yesterday saturday 14th. february at about 5.00 p.m. ... the year turned!” No time to waste.

It’s the first time that I’ve noticed a year turning. What I mean by that is a catch of the light and the catch of the light on brick and over water: an indication that whatever happens now Winter has been used up. There may be snow falls on the Celtic fringes but nothing that’ll call out the troops; there’ll be dull days and ‘February fill dyke’ isn’t quite over but growth has begun. Made it through to another Spring.

That’s what brought forth the idea of the year running away. The new light’s metaphorical as well as actual—lights went out on the undone stuff round about November 1st. Undone stuff’s still undone but nobody died from being undone so undone can stay undone. On with the new start, the season’s rushing and I must keep up.


The garden’s Why. For the past three years I have been involved in providing a series of lecture and seminar courses. Prep for them started from scratch and sitting down has become the normal mode of activity rather than prancing and dancing. My garden is largely a once-and-for-all early Summer rush; leave it alone for a day and you’ll play catchup. It’s won for some seasons now; but not this. Winter pruning was done before Christmas, everything tied in, all beds hoed, all beds disinfected. Mulch came at end of January and hoed in for February. The first rose feed’s done. Lectures are all finished. I have the chance of daily pottering—the gardener’s goal.

It isn’t daily but it’s pretty close. I’m beginning to simplify. I can walk around avoiding arguments with thorns, brush off soil from iris corms, give space for early bulbs, feel I’ve got some hold on the confusion. I can see myself tying in the flapping shoot before it clouts me, repot some alpines before death, keep a pathway visible, get to the potting shed without GPS. I can feel like a gardener, not a Berlin airlift. Less of a struggle to sit in it. I’ll see if it lasts.

So what goes on elsewhere? Anything other than crocuses? I’ll go out and have a look …

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Posted by Julie on 03/08 at 08:19 PM
Art & MediaGardening & LandscapePermalink

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Speak, Fragrance

76 readers divulged which fragrances inspire, relax and agitate them. It turns out that scent is a window on the spirit.


Rosa Metz and waning roses

Photo: Mary Annette Pember

Everyone’s entitled to his or her secrets. But there are other parts of interiority we’re more than happy to share; it’s just that no one ever asks about them.

Stop. No. Please don’t recount your dreams!

Instead, we asked a bunch of very interesting people about their favorite fragrances out of mere curiosity, and to our great surprise, nearly everyone responded. As intimate and generally unspoken as our olfactory lives are, most people were quite forthcoming, some very energetically so, about botanical scents.

A generous 76 people in ten countries replied, many sending along images too. And while we won’t attempt to summarize their fascinating and very diverse answers (we hope you’ll enjoy reading them all through, below) we can’t resist a few scent-sations.

Lots of us are hard-wired for honeysuckle. This sweet flower is adored by men and women from many countries. For lots of folks, it’s happily associated with childhood. Ann Lansing, of Asheville, North Carolina, writes, “It reminds me of the onset of warm weather and summer which I love.  I used to love to drive by myself with all the windows down on warm evenings and smell the honeysuckle.  I also love to open up the bloom and sip the nectar.”

Maria Henson writes, “Fragrance = memories.” And it seems that’s true. For even though we only asked people to list three botanical fragrances and their preferred cologne or perfume, many, many folks poured out associations with the past.

“I loved the smell of lilacs that grew next to my grandma & grampa’s morning porch,” writes Jacque Wurzelbacher of Chicago.  Cinnamon reminds Kim Lehman of Christmases in rural Pennsylvania. India Flint writes from Australia, “Golden calendula has me back at age four, pencil in hand undertaking my first botanical drawing under the guidance of my mother.”

Others were inspired less by homey scents than distant ones, summoning thoughts of what might have been. DD of Arlington, Massachusettes, remembers pineapple sage.  “We once got such a plant at a nursery in Austin, and then left it out on the porch at a place near West Lake Hills where we were staying, and the next morning it had been nipped away by a deer. I don’t think I’ve smelled pineapple sage since then, but I remember it as something delicious.”

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Posted by Julie on 03/03 at 10:43 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyGardening & LandscapeSecular CustomsPermalink

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Garden in the Music

What’s behind a melody? Gardener and one-woman-band Theresa Andersson hears angel’s trumpets with elephant ears.


Theresa Andersson, playing what the plants dictate

Sarpsborg, Norway, July 2008

Photo: Hilde Visnes

By Allen Bush

Winter has been gray and icy cold so I left Louisville and found spring in New Orleans—and not a minute too soon. Lavender saucer magnolias and pink azaleas were in bloom. I won’t see these again in Kentucky for weeks. There was a party going on during Mardi Gras—in the French Quarter, Uptown over to Algiers Point – plenty of bands and beads.  And musician Theresa Andersson was home for a brief tour break. After six weeks on the road and a performance on the Conan O’Brien show—her first national television appearance—Theresa was back in town.

It has been a busy year for the talented singer, songwriter, violinist and remarkable one woman band. She became an immediate YouTube sensation with the release of Na Na Na; The New Yorker recently did a cartoon caricature with their preview of her recent sold-out New York show; and she’s been in the studio working with David Byrne on his new album scheduled for late 2009 release.

There was little rest last week for the musician whom the LA Times recently named “Artist to Watch 2009.”  Andersson had a 1:30 am weekend Mardi Gras show and didn’t get home Saturday morning until the sun peeked over the Mississippi Sound. She was heading-out again this week but happy to have a few days in the garden where she divines her music. Her new album, Hummingbird, Go!, is home grown—created here in the garden and recorded in the kitchen, just a few steps away.

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Posted by Julie on 03/01 at 09:35 PM
Art & MediaGardening & LandscapeTravelPermalink
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