Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Plant Patents: Potted Gold?

A variegated redbud won’t make Allen Bush a mint, but if you enjoy growing ‘Alley Cat,’ please buy him a beer.


Even Le Bron James can’t pass along a patented plant

Photo: Baby Wall Decorations

By Allen Bush

My friend Mike Hayman phoned the day after “The Decision” —the LeBron James’s televised public relations disaster. LeBron and his handlers had spent the previous two weeks shopping pro basketball teams for a winning deal. Now Hayman wanted my decision. Did I want to patent Cercis candadenis ‘Alley Cat’: a variegated redbud that popped-up as a chance seedling in my back garden down near the alley?  (Unless Tinker Bell sprinkled pixie dust, I can only guess that seed must have blown in on the fair winds to my little spit of land.)

“Are we talking LeBron money?” I asked Hayman. Could this be my ticket to fortune? I wondered. Mike laughed: “No, this looks like the amateur ranks.” (At least he didn’t say Bush League!) 

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Posted by Julie on 08/15 at 09:20 PM
Gardening & LandscapeScienceSecular CustomsPermalink

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trespassing for Power Fungus

In the disputed highlands along the border between China and India, a strange medicinal plant provides military cover.


Cordyceps sinensis, a fungus from the Himalayas,

inhabits and grows from the bodies of insects (here a

caterpillar)—and that’s just the beginning.

Photo: Heathen Healing

It’s referred to as the “Chinese love flower” but we don’t think that’s a very nice thing to say about the Chinese, or love—or flowers either. Just look at it.

This is a fungus, Cordyceps sinensis—an entomopathogenic fungus, meaning it grows on and, in time, into and out of insects. That’s hard on insects—lethal, as a matter of fact—as well as enormously weird and disgusting (just our opinion).

You might call its growth habit an “incursion.” But it’s human incursion into the fugus’s habitat, the very high territory along the China/India border, that prompted the Telegraph’s recent story about this plant.

Indian officials are claiming that small groups of Chinese troops, forces with the People’s Liberation Army, have been coming across “the disputed MacMahon Line” that separates the two countries. Dean Nelson writes that crossing the line “remains highly sensitive for both countries which fought a border war in 1962 in which China captured but later returned Tawang district, which it claims is part of Tibet” – also considered disputed territory. This moist, mountainous environment, between 10,000-12,000 feet in altitude, is where Cordyseps sinensis grows.

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Posted by Julie on 08/10 at 09:52 PM

Sunday, August 08, 2010

On the Way to a Prom

Memory and the Proms—Royal Albert Hall’s eight weeks of daily concerts—bring John Levett to London. Happy birthday, with rose ‘heps.’


Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park

Photo: John Levett

By John Levett

Last Thursday was my birthday. I answered mail until noon. It never used to be like this.

The group of photographers that I have the privilege of working with is having its annual show, opening next week and going through to September. We’ve got seventy-five entries this year, our largest number since we began back in 2007. It’s a fine group. We never get bogged down in the technicalities of the process; we’re just there for the images, for the back-story, for the sharing. We’ve got enough energy & enthusiasm for the first timer as for the old pro and sometimes you’ll not know the difference. People keep coming, people keep coming back; that’s always the best judge that something’s right about a group. The mail box keeps growing too.

I once knew the secretary of my local Labour Party in south London. He kept a large bag of pennies & ha’pennies in the bottom draw of his desk. Whenever anyone new came in and asked if they could help out he took out the bag and said: “People keep dropping their small change into our collecting boxes & I never get around to counting it. Do you think that’s something you could do for me?” It never failed. Everyone wants to be useful. So the mail keeps growing and the jobs keep getting done and the show opens and we all wonder at how it got to look so wonderful. The mailbox is the bag of pennies. Everybody gets to be useful.

That’s why you answer mail ’til noon on your birthday.

I broke. Sun was up; I hadn’t noticed. I took a mug of nuclear-strength tea and my book of the month (Austerity Britain by David Kynaston: social history without compare) out to the deckchair under the now-ripening heps of early-aging summer; a chapter read thence to the station.

I can’t read histories on the train. Too many conversations, too much mobile-phoning. Currently my ‘train books’ are re-reads of post-war fiction: Flight into Camden, This Sporting Life, Room at the Top, A Kind of Loving, the ‘London’ trilogy by Colin McInnes. Strange reads; reminders of how much time we spent trying to keep warm; how long London stayed a bomb-site; how we courted. Now King’s Cross: Larkin’s walls of blackened moss still visible in parts.

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Posted by Julie on 08/08 at 03:21 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink

Friday, August 06, 2010

With White, for Hiroshima

White flowers reappear in ceremonies remembering the tens of thousands who were killed by the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. After 65 years, participation may mean progress.


People gathered in mourning, respect, anger and pacifism at the cenotaph in Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 2010.

Photo: New York Times

On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. 80,000 people were killed instantly, and by the end of the year, tens of thousands more had died of radiation poisoning and other injuries.

Today, for the first time, a U.S. dignitary—John Roos, the ambassador to Japan—joined the mayor of Hiroshima and thousands of others at a memorial rite.

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Posted by Julie on 08/06 at 02:40 PM
Culture & SocietyPoliticsSecular CustomsPermalink
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