Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

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Princeton, MAINE USA

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thanh Tien: Flooded with Flowers

To prepare for the Lunar New Year, one Vietnamese village has been making paper flowers for more than three centuries.


Artificial bong mai flowers decorate a Buddhist temple

in Houston, Texas, for Tet, the Lunar New Year.

Photo: Human Flower Project

For Tet, Vietnam’s celebration of the Lunar New Year, flowers are required. On the first day of this Year of the Hare, February 3, there must be blossoms lest bad luck shadow the next twelve months.

For Vietnam’s flower farmers, there’s already been bad luck. In Thua Thien-Hue and other central provinces, flooding has ruined much of this season’s crop. But weather can’t annul Tet’s traditional demands. Artificial plum blossoms, narcissus, chrysanthemums and bong mai will pick up fortune’s slack.

An unnamed reporter at VOV News produced a fine story about the paper-flower makers of Thanh Tien. This village, close to the central Vietnamese city of Hue, has been producing flowers rain or shine for 400 years, primarily for the Tet holiday. This is an uncharacteristically arid region of Vietnam, so in the centuries before rapid transportation, the flowers that couldn’t be grown had to be hand-made.

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Posted by Julie on 01/19 at 04:19 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietySecular CustomsPermalink

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Horticulture’s Carnies

Plant experts get extroverted: the horticultural trade shows of 2011 have begun.

image‘Step right up! See the new fungus-resistant variety of black eyed Susans!’

By Allen Bush

Carnival Hortus came to Baltimore the first week of January. Hundreds of companies, devoted to anything resembling green, showed-up at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) to woo customers at the Masterpiece of Tradeshows®. Charge cards were nearly tapped-out, and lines of credit were shrinking fast, but thousands of attendees were walking the hard concrete floors of the Baltimore Convention Center thinking the sunshine felt closer. This was a hot house of optimism with spring, and positive cash flow, three months away.

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Posted by Julie on 01/13 at 04:25 PM
Cut-Flower TradeGardening & LandscapeSecular CustomsPermalink

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Old Trees and the New Adam

On a New Year’s Day stroll, you’ll find park protest and public safety, but few signs of gardening struggle.


Panel from “October” (1946), Adam the Gardener

Image: via Garden Banter

Essay and photos by John Levett

When I began reading a newspaper (or maybe just pretending) sometime in the early 1950s I recall that there was an illustrated strip called Adam the Gardener. Adam appeared in the Daily Express or maybe the Daily Mail. Those were the two right of right-wing newspapers that my gran read. Conservative to the core, gran voted for Churchill and would have had me christened Winston Spencer if she’d had her way. My mother got her way instead and christened me John Thomas after Gamekeeper Mellor’s member which didn’t reflect my mother’s sense of humour but encouraged that of most of my mates around the time of the Chatterley trial.

Back to Adam. Think of a jobbing gardener of the 1930s and Adam was he—mutton-chop whiskers and hat; corn-cob pipe; waistcoat for umpteen tools, twine, dibbers, seed markers; moleskin trousers hitched above the knee with string; hob-nailed boots that saw the birth, life and death of Queen Victoria. Adam knew everything and everything stayed as it had always been in Adam World. Adam knew his audience too. Everyone he addressed had a small-holding with pigs, fowl of all sorts and easy access to graduated manure from chicken to Hereford bull. And time.

The advice Adam doled out in the weekly strip assumed lark rise to bat flight on the plot with local serfs and cottars on hand. I once had a copy of Adam’s handy hints in book form and kept it for ages. Adam was inspiring. I think it must have come from him that for decades I saw my final years being worked out on a small holding somewhere in the Fens. Nothing that would match Adam’s itinerary and surplus labour production; just something that would fit in with a balanced life and provide for the kitchen, the market stall and the flower show. Something challenging but not labouring for survival. Adam’s heyday was close to the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign of the last war.

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Posted by Julie on 01/09 at 04:00 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Neroli Beats Xanax by a Nose

Scientists in Taiwan have shown that the essential oil of bitter orange flowers is a more effective anxiolytic than Xanax. Stop popping. Start daubing.


A study of neroli’s psychic benefits was carried out by/on gerbils; swimming makes them anxious.

Photo: Still Breathing

We’re as socially anxious as the next person, perhaps a little more so. So we sympathize with those who habitually “take the edge off” with chemical power tools.

We also sympathize with those who’ve “tooled” themselves dull (or newly edgy). Good news from Taiwan for us and for all those numb next-people. A group of researchers has found that neroli – the essential oil of Citrus aurantium var. amara or Bigaradia, enjoyed as a relaxing fragrance for more than 400 years - has proven more potent against anxiety than Xanax.

Granted, the experiment was done on swimming gerbils, but it’s still a very hopeful result.

Ying-Ju Chen, a nutritionist at Providence University, Taiwan, and a research team tested the swimming duration and distance of three groups of gerbils: a control group, a group treated with Xanax, and a group that had inhaled neroli fragrance.

The rodents that had sniffed neroli oil swam longer and and less frantically (measured by the distance they covered) than did the control group or the Xanex-fed gerbils. (Being tossed into water tends to make gerbils anxious.)

“This study provides evidence-based data on aromatherapy using neroli in the treatment of anxiety,” Chen et al concluded.

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Posted by Julie on 01/06 at 06:02 PM
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