Human Flower Project
Friday, September 30, 2011
Alpine Valley Down by the Alley
Allen Bush explores alpine possibilities in the Ohio River Valley. What a view!
By Allen Bush
Eritrichium canum Hybrid ‘Baby Blues’
Photo: Allen Bush
It happened so fast. One day I’m “shovel ready” on cheap landscape jobs in Louisville, Kentucky, and the next, I’m falling in love with tight buns in London. (Trust me: You won’t find buns like these in the bakery!)
Ground hugging Dionysias and Saxifragas became a brief obsession over thirty years ago when I lived and gardened in England. I was introduced to a wide world of rock garden and alpine plants through the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, as well as from the glorious displays of nurserymen and enthusiasts at the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Shows at Vincent Square, 1978-1979.
There, to behold, was a level of horticultural expertise I could never have imagined. Names like the Ingwersens, Eliotts, Jack Drake, Kate Dryden and Tony Hall were glittering stars of my new galaxy. They delivered littler plants, plucked from cold frames and glass houses, and grown to perfection in shallow terra cotta bulb pans. They brought familiar woodland ephemerals like Trilliums and lady slippers, too, which I knew and loved. I was pleased the Ohio Valley and southern Appalachians - my neck of the woods - were so well represented.
But “alpines” were in a different class altogether – from the tall mountains. I had never seen tall mountains before nor set foot anywhere close to these cute buns—or cushion plants. My world expanded. I had a connection, now, to towering ranges. These “high” enthusiasts, who loved their munchkin plants, got around. There were tales of adventurous explorers prying small plant pieces from thin, rocky crevices or harvesting a few seeds. I was hooked.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Wendish heritage is strong on noodles, Lutheranism, coffee cake, and roses.
Window of the Luther Rose: St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Serbin, TX
Photo: Human Flower Project
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in tiny Serbin, Texas, looks severe as a whitewashed Amish barn, but inside it shines likes a sapphire. The sanctuary really glowed Sunday with two services, part of the town’s celebration of its Wendish heritage.
Pastor Robert L. Hartfield had come all the way from Pennsylvania to preach the German sermon. He remembered the faith and courage of Johann Killian, another Lutheran minister, who led a group from near the Spree River through to Liverpool, Ireland, and on to Texas in 1854. The Wends, a Slavic people from the northeastern part of today’s German nation, risked their lives to sail away for many reasons, primarily so they could go on practicing their hard line Lutheranism after the German state required all churches to come into one more moderate Protestant union.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
When the Cows Come Home
A human-bovine-floral custom of the Alps decorates the herds for their descent from high pastures and celebrates the herders who work with them.
From our vantage point in the land of parched, flat and “virtual,” heaven looks like this:
Viehscheid in Oberstaufen, Germany, Sept. 12, 2011
Photo: Ralf Lienert
It’s the event of the season in the Alps, as the herds come down from their high summer pastures to spend fall and winter in the valley stables. And it has to be one of the most marvelous human-floral customs of Europe.
We’ve written before about its Swiss-French-speaking version, the Desalpe, but these days we’re trending Germanic, longing to be in Bavaria’s Obermaiselstein this weekend, or the Zillertal valley of Austria.
September 24th will be the last big day for these ceremonial “sortings of the cattle,” known in Germany as Viehscheid, in Austria as Almabtrieb. Will you be there?
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Flowers Walking at Denver Botanic
Human Flower Project teamed up with floral artist Arthur Williams last week, part of the Bonfils Stanton Series at Denver Botanic Garden.
Jerrica Park (right) and Alicia Cardenas, two of Arthur Williams’s models, mingled with the audience after a gorgeous human-flower demonstration at Denver Botanic Gardens, September 15, a co-show with HFP.
Photo: Human Flower Project
“No one can possess this,” said Arthur Williams. He stood beside a beautiful young woman calmly batting blue eyelashes. She was crowned with anthuriums and orchids, green catkins dangling to her shoulders, and standing tall in combat boots.
After our presentation “White Roses for the Bride, Red Begonias for the Dictator” delivered September 15 at Denver Botanic Gardens, Williams released the fireworks: five models, each a distinct character, conceived in his deep and fluid understanding of the human-floral bond.
We had the honor of speaking at the renowned DBG about how flower customs across the world establish our individual, social, and regional identities. To an audience of about 125, we showed images of floral carpets in Poland and chrysanthemum dolls in Japan; we looked at train excursions into the Rockies during the 1890s, travelers picking native wildflowers by the bushel-basketful, and today’s efforts to protect some of those same flowers—and deploy them in the fight against oil and gas drilling.
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