Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Friday, July 29, 2011

Joe Pye Weed, My Man

It’s hotter than a boiled peanut! Time for the hard-core gardeners of the Mid-South—like Allen Bush—to show what they’re made of.


Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’)

stands tall in the July garden with Rose Cooper Bush

Louisville, Kentucky

Photo: Allen Bush

By Allen Bush

After two hours of weeding and planting in the sweltering morning heat, it’s usually time to throw in the towel. Well, not quite. I keep a towel handy to wipe the sweat off my creased brow and dab my receding hairline. This is one coping ritual for mid-summer. A cool swim later in the afternoon can work wonders, too. But the Lakeside temperature is hovering near 90 F (32 C).  There’s no magic, there. When the morning temperature hits the low end at 80 F (27C), as the sun comes-up, you know you’re in for a rough ride the rest of the day. There’s no stopping 90 F (32 C) or hotter. During spells like this, when the humidity is as stifling as the debate on debt limits, it’s hard to catch a break.

July wasn’t hot straight the way through, and I wasn’t stuck in Kentucky all month, either. I caught a breather in the Colorado Rockies, with good friends, looking at alpine wildflowers in early July. My pals Kirk Alexander and Panayoti Keliaidis organized a great tour. I’d call home each day and Rose would tell me about the skyrocketing Louisville heat index that hovered in the triple digits for days. I tried to be sympathetic. The annoying heat index – a summer flogging by forecasters - combines ambient temperature with the relative humidity. But it doesn’t skewer “the hardware of reality.” It’s hot and we all know it.

I didn’t tell Rose I was wearing a cotton sweater at 10,000 on the road up to Pikes Peak.  Nor did I dwell on walks through meadows in the alpine tundra filled with primroses and alpine forget-me-nots. 

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Posted by Julie on 07/29 at 02:07 PM
Gardening & LandscapeTravelPermalink

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blind Magnolias

Justice in Mississippi’s state capitol wears the state flower over both ears. But did justice have a part in choosing the magnolia?


The magnolia blossom, chosen by Mississippi schoolchildren, was officially adopted as the state flower in 1952.

This painting, entitled Keeping Secrets, is by Edward Loedding

Image: All Posters

With an endless, complicated job to do, Justice reasonably has lots of equipment. Bare necessities seem to be a sword, a helmet, scales, and a blindfold. (We never understood how the last two worked in tandem. Eyes covered, how was Lady Justice to see if or when the scales balanced?...)

To these tools, the State of Mississippi has added a pair of beautiful magnolia blossoms, one over each of the deity’s ears. This bas relief carving (sculptor unknown) is a much admired ornament beneath the dome of the state capitol, built 1901-1903, in Jackson.

Adding this lush, local floral element to the depiction of Justice is entirely in keeping with the building’s beaux-arts style. “She’s so good lookin’, she looks like a man!” John Lennon would have exclaimed!

She’s also illuminated by “750 lights” bringing to mind the wonderful carvings of carousels and circus wagons around this time, the turn of the 20th century.

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Posted by Julie on 07/27 at 11:26 AM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyPoliticsSecular CustomsPermalink

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wedding Belles, Wedding Beaux

Let love lead—and legally.


Luz Heurtelou (left) and Nastassia Heurtelou waited to be married at the Brooklyn Clerk’s Office, July 24. New York’s Marriage Equality Act took effect Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Sunday’s not ordinarily a big day for weddings, but July 24, 2011 was a resounding exception. New York state’s new law legalizing same-sex marriages went into effect at midnight and the vowing, kissing, and flower wearing haven’t let up since.

On Monday, a mass wedding in Niagara Falls saw 46 same-sex couples exchange vows, and 100 more couples were expected to marry en masse at Bethpage State Park on Long Island on Tuesday.”

Congratulations and best wishes for wedded happiness to all, gay and lesbian and straight, bold enough to jump the broom.

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Posted by Julie on 07/25 at 04:57 PM
Culture & SocietyReligious RitualsSecular CustomsPermalink

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gasping for Apples

‘Wide” crosses with Eurasian crab apple trees bore red-flesh fruit for Albert Etter. The Burtons of British Columbia carry on his colorful legacy.


Pink Pearmain, one of the Burtons’ 27 red-flesh apples

Photo: Harry Burton

Harry Burton is a zealot for red flesh apples. He and his wife Debbie grow 27 varieties of these freaky fruits at their farm on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, and hold an apple festival there every fall. 

Through a combination of indolence and congenital nostalgia, we’ve always found white flesh apples plenty fine (same goes for pink roses rather than blue ones, green foliage, and one headed kittens). Today, though, Harry enticed us into reading a short bio of pomologist Albert Etter, his hero.

It was Etter, a German immigrant to Humboldt County, California, who figured out how to make red flesh apples tasty. “Where conventional plant breeders would make their crosses between the most desireable standard varieties, Etter preferred ‘wide’ crosses that utilized primitive, almost wild types that are genetically distant from the more common kinds. Many of his best apple varieties have a crab apple for one parent.”

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Posted by Julie on 07/24 at 10:57 AM
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