Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

China’s Crackdown on Jasmine

In Tunisia, jasmine has been a revolutionary symbol. Chinese authorities are taking a literalist approach.


The child of a flower grower from Daxing, China, snoozes beside pots of contraband

Photo: Sim Chi Yin, The New York Times

HFP applauds Andrew Jacobs and Jonathan Ansfield of the New York Times for following up on a February story out of China: Inspired by Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” dissidents in China then began calling for their own uprising, using the tiny, fragrant white flower as their emblem too.

The Daily Mail and other outlets reported in late February that an anonymous blogger had urged Chinese citizens to take to the streets: “We welcome… laid off workers and victims of forced evictions to participate in demonstrations, shout slogans and seek freedom, democracy and political reform to end ‘one party rule.’”

Internet activists asked protestors to “stroll silently holding a jasmine flower.”

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Posted by Julie on 05/10 at 04:05 PM
Culture & SocietyCut-Flower TradePoliticsPermalink

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Challenging Plant Patents: the Rose

Advocates of plant patenting have claimed that only the incentives of ownership and profits can spur horticultural innovation. A new study of rose development since 1930 pokes holes in that argument.


‘New Dawn,’ the first plant ever patented, flourishing

at Zanthan Garden, Austin, Texas, April 2007

Photo: M Sinclair Stevens

The fervent experimentalism of rose breeders has put a thorn in the case for plant patenting.

Since 1930, it’s been legal in the U.S. to patent new plants propagated asexually (those not grown from seed but, for example, sprouted from cuttings); in 1970, legal protection was extended to some seed producers too.

Patenting plant life has been a controversial issue all along, from debates in the 19th century to today’s court battles versus seed monopolies. Among many arguments, patent opponents have contended that plants, unlike threshing machines or morning-after pills, aren’t fundamentally the result of human effort. The diligence and genius of breeders notwithstanding, plants are “products of nature and hence… not inventions or, as the Germans put it, Nicht-Erfindungen.”

But proponents of plant patenting, from Thomas Edison to Monsanto, have argued that only legal ownership and the profits that accrue to patent-holders can guarantee horticultural innovation. Plant breeding is a long-term and expensive enterprise, they insist, but botanical novelties, once achieved, are easy to replicate. It’s only fair, patent supporters say, for those who undertake the work of plant development to reap a benefit for their arduous effort.

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Posted by Julie on 05/08 at 11:31 AM
Gardening & LandscapePoliticsSciencePermalink

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ready, Aim, Bloom

Allen Bush shuttles between battle fantasies, old and new, as April in the Ohio Valley loads and fires its botanical best.


Ernest Parks, re-enactor from Company I, Massachusetts 54th Regiment, tosses a wreath into Charleston (SC) Harbor toward Fort Sumter, April 12, 2011.

Photo: The Reenactors

By Allen Bush

My eyes were blood shot from tree pollen and gun smoke after a volley of blossoms and bullets. The April signal corps of redbuds, dogwoods and paw paws was flanked to the north by Civil War reenactors in Corydon, Indiana, and to the south by the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot near West Point, Kentucky. The reenactors understood the sorrow of war. The belligerent infidels at Knob Creek were locked and loaded. The magnificence of spring surrounded them all.

April 12, 2011 was the 150th anniversary of the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1861. (Major Robert Anderson, a native of Louisville, Kentucky refused to surrender the Federal fort.) Lincoln feared this provocation for Civil War. 

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Posted by Julie on 05/04 at 11:14 AM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePoliticsSecular CustomsPermalink

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Two Planets

From the floods of Kentucky to the scorched earth of Central Texas: extremes of April 2011 show in the face of a china rose.


Betsy Pirie’s rose (Louis Philippe), April 15, 2011

Photo: Human Flower Project

We’ve lived on two planets this week – Louisville, KY, where record rains have sent the Ohio River 10 feet above flood stage, and Austin, TX, still in a severe drought.

Steven Cobb of Lubbock’s National Weather Service said the stretch since last November has been the “driest on record” in West Texas. From the soggy basement, iridescent greenery, and barricaded streets of the Falls City, we’re back home, crunching over a gray and dusty yard. Stink bugs are riding the seed pods of poppies. The wind scatters yellows blossoms of the palo verde trees.

imageBetsy’s rose, April 15, 2010

Photo: Human Flower Project

We don’t keep records of the garden, but have taken photos of the yard the past three years on April 15, focusing on an old rose passed along to us by Betsy Pirie and her friend and neighbor Terry Childress.

This year Betsy’s rose (Louis Philippe, we think) bloomed in mid-March. By the time of her “close up” the only blooms left were tired and puckery. The yard was parched, and the companion bluebonnets had gone to seed. (Betsy herself died October 23, 2010, at age 99.)

Weather experts are predicting that the Texas drought won’t break until July. Meanwhile Louisville’s expecting more rain Sunday and Monday.

Posted by Julie on 05/01 at 10:37 AM
Gardening & LandscapePermalink
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