Human Flower Project

Cut-Flower Trade

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Silletero to Demonstrate on the Mall

As the Smithsonian Folklife Festival features Colombia, a silletero will bring his floral craft to Washington.


Silleta by Alexander de Jesús Nieto of Santa Elena, Colombia for the 2010 Feria de las Flores, Medellin

Photo: Cristina Diaz-Carrera, Smithsonian Institution

This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held annually on the national Mall in Washington, D.C., will feature, among many others, Alexander de Jesús Nieto of Santa Elena, Colombia.

Nieto is a silletero, a flower carrier and in folklore-ese, a “tradition bearer” too.

The silleteros carry huge loads of fresh blooms from flower farms, many in the mountains, into the city market centers for sale. We suppose that most flower growers get their blooms to market in trucks these days, but the silletero tradition lives on, perhaps the clearest human flower project on Earth to show the back-bruising work behind cut-flowers.

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Posted by Julie on 06/21 at 01:37 PM
Culture & SocietyCut-Flower TradeSecular CustomsPermalink

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Run for the Peonies

The Derby winner gets its Wreath of Roses, but lucky Louisvillians, racing fans or not, get a month of peonies and a chance to buy from one of the nation’s top breeders. Happy belated birthday, Allen.


Tree peony ‘Hephestos’ (God of Fire)  recipient of 2009 Gold Medal American Peony Society

Photo: Songsparrow Nursery

By Allen Bush

What a wonderful month of May. Rapture was scheduled for May 21st —a week before my 60th birthday – so there was no time to waste. Proof of the unfathomable came early. I punched the cosmic button on the first Saturday and hit the board on my Kentucky Derby bet. (I won $3,952.00 on a $2.00 trifecta box with four horses. The $48.00 bet required three of the horses - in any order—to cross the finish line 1, 2 and 3rd.) I’m not a big bettor, and rarely make it to the track more than twice a year, but my dumb luck should cover all bets for the next twenty years. If you can believe it, there was even more to May. The garden was obliging, too. 

I can’t recall a spring so lush.  There wasn’t a hint of frost past the 2nd week in March (we can expect frost until early May). Record April rainfall was one for the books – over 14” (36 cm)—but the garden didn’t wash away.  May brought a series of rocking thunderstorms but no damaging hail or tornadoes.  There was nothing not to like about this May.

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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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Say ATPDEA with Flowers

The Colombian government has sent flowers to Capitol Hill to press for renewal of a favorable trade agreement. But abuses of workers rights can’t hide behind bouquets.


Rep. Sander Levin of the House Ways and Means Committee spoke against renewal of the Andean trade pact that favors Colombian and Ecuadorian flowers.

Photo: AFP

The government of Colombia delivered flowers to all members of the U.S. Congress Tuesday, lobbying for renewal of special trade status, the Wall St. Journal reports. The

Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, which aimed to turn Colombian farmers away from drug production toward other industries and crops – like flowers – expired February 12. Without it, import duties will resume on a variety of Colombian products, from roses, to oil, to clothing.

The flowers came to Capitol Hill with a mildly threatening message attached:

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Posted by Julie on 03/30 at 06:40 PM
Cut-Flower TradePoliticsPermalink
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