Human Flower Project


Friday, September 09, 2011

Twin Towers : Himalayan Mayapples

Plantsman Allen Bush was on a collecting trip in Sichuan, China, on 9/11. Ten years later, he remembers the helplessness of distance and the security gained from two tiny companions, their feet on the ground.


Alpine flowers on the way to Zhe Duo Pass, China

Photo: Pam Spaulding

By Allen Bush

I was with a group of plant explorers in Kanding, China on the evening of September 11, 2001. We’d just finished dinner. One of our Chinese drivers, known as the Wrench for his mechanical skills, knew I liked to check emails. He asked me and Pierre Bennerup if we wanted to go to an Internet café.

We’d been in China for over a week and were scheduled to travel throughout western Sichuan for another three weeks.  Internet access was widely available across China, usually on very slow dial-up modems. Even in remote towns where farmers were herding yaks down a rutted muddy street and laundry was being done on a rock down by the river, you could find the Internet.  Competition flourished with one café in the Sichuan mountain town of Moxi charging $2.00 an hour, another down the street charging a cutthroat $1.00. The smoky cafes were filled with teenagers playing shoot ‘em-up games.

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Posted by Julie on 09/09 at 10:44 AM
Gardening & LandscapePoliticsTravelPermalink

Monday, September 05, 2011

Making $39 a Month?

There oughta be law against paying cut-flower workers (or anybody) just $39 a month. Naivasha’s MP has proposed to up their minimum wage. Leaders of the Kenyan industry are pushing back, hard.


A worker in Kenya’s $21 million cut flower industry

Photo: Business Daily

Do the cut-flower workers of Kenya deserve to make $100 A MONTH?

John Mututho, Member of Parliament from Naivasha, where the nation’s biggest flower farms are clustered, thinks so. And that would be a big pay raise! Mututho has introduced an amendment to the Labour Institutions Act that would increase flower workers’ monthly wages from the current 3,765 Kenya Shillings ($39.71) to Sh 10,050 (the equivalent of $106.01).

The Kenya Flower Council is lobbying Parliament, meanwhile, to prevent legislative authority over minimum wages, in other words, to keep wages down.

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Posted by Julie on 09/05 at 06:28 PM
Cut-Flower TradePoliticsPermalink

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hand-in-Hand with a Passing

Not far from Legoland, a memorial to progressive engagement at Runnymeade, the riverside of liberty.


Princess Anne national savings stamp, March 1960

Image: Stampboards

By John Levett

In 1956 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Harold Macmillan, introduced Premium Bonds, a variety of the savings scheme beloved of governments of the time—savings being seen as ‘a good thing,’ very worthy, a benefit to the nation and, given rising incomes and prosperity until the ends of time, possible in some way for most families. We even had savings schemes in primary school: bringing along our sixpences and shillings and our savings books. A working-class sixpence bought you a stamp with a Princess Anne on it and a princely sum of one shilling got you Prince Charles. These were stuck in a book and taken straight home to your parents lest you got the idea that you could trip straight down to the post office, take out your six-hours-old savings and blow the lot on ‘things that do you no good.’ Such a fact also led to a seriously-enduring dislike for the kids on the stamps.

The non-interest-paying Premium Bond (minimum deposit £1) had the come-on of the possibility of earning a monthly prize courtesy of the Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment or ERNIE as it came to be known—in short, Britain’s first lottery; top prize £1000. The Gospel lobby was still strong in the Conservative Party of those days so according to debates all manner of societal breakdown was in store— a ‘cold, solitary, mechanical, uncompanionable, inhuman activity’ as the Archbishop of Canterbury had it. Mum bought some over the years but between 1958 and the year she died in 1979 only topped out at one £25 prize.

I’ve never been one for voluntary saving but when I retired from teaching I put a few grand into Premium Bonds (top prize these days, one million) and awaited the surprise. I never expected anything to happen; I looked upon it as a way of putting some money aside which would go to various charities in my will alongside the promise of random treats along the way. The surprise is that I keep winning. These are not amounts that’ll land me decreeing stately pleasure domes, rather a couple of CDs and a new shirt but they keep dropping through the letter box.

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Posted by Julie on 08/11 at 08:58 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePoliticsPermalink

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
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