Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rerouting and a Spotless Rose

From the bridge, John Levett sees the hallmark of gardening—effort. At home, persistence brings a banner year for a pesky yellow rose.


Elizabeth Way Bridge, built 1971, over the River Cam

Photo: John Levett

By John Levett

I have entered the buggersome years. The years of forgetting the date of so-and-so’s birth or death; the name of a book, the name of an author; the road that leads into that other road; an artist, a sculptor. They all come back at some time but at the time when they’re no longer needed.

Until last year I was giving was a ten-session course on Marx and Marxism. I loved it then as I loved it when I first gave it. It took in the whole broad sweep of the intellectual development of a continent; there was nowhere it couldn’t go—art, literature, philosophy, history, political economy, insurrection, failure, defeat, death. Nothing was too small to be attended to—the name of the editor of an obscure north Prussian periodical; the correct title of an Austrian grand duke; the name of a street in St. Petersburg; a character in Balzac. I needed to research these things; someone might ask; I might not know; my credibility in shreds. Each week resembled the desperate last-minute revision of a final-year student on the morning of a final exam. And if nobody asked? I slotted it into an aside somewhere. Nothing of my research was wasted. Diderot’s running dog.

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Posted by Julie on 06/12 at 09:45 AM
Art & MediaGardening & LandscapePermalink

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Stella d’Oro and Cellar Door

The Midwestern landscape is covered with knockout roses and one variety of daylily. Is this pragmatism, consensus, aesthetics, cost, conformity…other?


Cellar door in Audia, Neamţ County, Romania

Photo: Andrei Stroe, via wiki

Our most trusted source in Louisville, Kentucky, reports that the whole city is doing the floral two-step. “Knockout roses and stella d’oro daylilies – they’re everywhere!” says Anne Ardery. We hope that she or another Falls City reader will snap a photo of this bulletproof combo and send it along; meanwhile, the mind’s eye is squinting—just the thought of all that gold and pink, the humid days and weeks ahead of gold and pink…

These two workhorses lack the nobility of mules. Most gardeners turn their noses up at them, or, like Carol at May Dreams Gardens, apologise for not purging them entirely from the yard. Even so, at least on the landscape side of the landscaping/gardening line, knockouts and stella d’oro predominate and go loudly along all through June.

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Posted by Julie on 06/08 at 03:22 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Dwarfed by an Angel

Pre-Columbus and post-Hugo, the Angel Oak has witnessed 1500 years of Low Country history and now makes 17,000 square feet of shade.


Ryoko Miller paints the venerable Angel Oak

Johns Island, SC

Photo: Paint Charleston Daily

Cyndy Clark of Lexington, Kentucky, took off for the South Carolina Low Country last month. From Charleston, she and friend Jane Peters headed for Johns Island and encountered what many say is “the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi.”

The Angel Oak (Quercus virginiana) is estimated to be 1500 years old. “The Tree” as many call it,  “would have sprouted 1000 years before Columbus’s arrival in the New World.” Today, it has its own website:

“Live oaks generally grow out and not up, but the Angel Oak has had plenty of time to do both, standing 65 ft high and with a canopy providing 17,000 square feet of shade. Its limbs, the size of tree trunks themselves, are so large and heavy that some of them rest on the ground (some even drop underground for a few feet and then come back up), a feature common to only the very oldest live oaks. It has survived countless hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and human interference, so there’s a good chance it will still be there waiting for you.” Hurricane Hugo damaged The Tree but we understand that it has recovered.

As you’d imagine, this mighty plant serves as a living temple for all manner of ceremony and ritual. The choreographer of Charleston’s ballet, which has performed here during the Spoleto festival, discovered that the whole ballet company, 19 dancers “could hide behind the trunk of The Tree.”

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Posted by Julie on 06/03 at 10:55 AM
Art & MediaGardening & LandscapeTravelPermalink

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

At the Very Minimum

A 22% hike in the minimum wage for agriculture workers in Kenya is half what the union wanted, and lots more than the industry expected.


Workers prepare roses for export in Kenya. The nation’s horticulture sector—flowers, fruits and vegetables—exports nearly $1 billion (USD) worth of produce per year.

Photo: via Business Daily

Global recession followed by ash-clouded air space have stricken Kenya’s flower industry, and the pain, of course, trickles down – most affecting those who grow, tend, and harvest the flowers.

The Central Organization of Trade Unions announced a 21 day strike in late April (just before Mothers Day) but agreed to call it off when an Industrial Court ruled the action illegal, calling for further negotiations.

Now after weeks of tough talk on both sides, some 100,000 flower workers have won a 22% pay raise. Sounds major!

Except that the union had been asking for a 50% increase in wages. Consider that inflation has raised the cost of living 7% in Kenya just this year. More to the point, consider the pay itself, not the raise.

The 22 per cent minimum wage pay increase “would see them earn between Sh4,773 and Sh5,581, up from the previous Sh4,300,” reports Business Daily. Those are Kenya shillings.

In other words, these ag workers will go from earning about $53, to making $59-$69 – PER MONTH.

Jane Ngige, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council, groaned, “Small farm owners will have a hard time coping with the increment backdated to July last year, they have no choice but to honour it.” Business Daily also reports that the Kenya’s growers are asking for a “stimulus package” from the government.

Posted by Julie on 06/01 at 03:50 PM
Cut-Flower TradePermalink
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