Human Flower Project
Art & Media
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Homage and Horror Vacui
An artist’s floral installation pays final tribute to Boston’s 90-year-old mental health center.
The barren Massachusetts Mental Health Center opened
to the public, blooming for four days before its demolition.
“How does one memorialize a building impossibly rich with a history of both hope and sadness?” asks Christopher Jobson on his intriguing weblog Colossus (many thanks to Annie Ardery for pointing us this way).
Saturday, March 10, 2012
This Blessed Plot
What happened to the front garden? The original home theater and neighborhood forum, a gift that’s been retracted. (Thank you, John.)
Essay and photos by John Levett
There’s a saying: ‘Don’t change yer clout ‘til may is out.’ Discussion used to always arise about whether changing clout (clothing) should take place after the may (hawthorn) came out or May came in. Whatever. The may is out and in these parts it feels as if the season is on the turn. The weather has been kind this year. It’s just turned March and I’m in credit with the energy company. We had a cold spell at the opening of February but you get the feeling that that’s that.
March is busy: finish pruning anything left before nesting time, clear the space of rubbish, repair paths, wash out the shed & re-prime, buy in the mulch, first feed, tie in stray shoots, secure ramblers—get to the point where you feel you can start sitting in the garden. It’s a long month to come before I’m in that state but it’s started.
It’s a time when the planning trope creeps back in. What’s the new grand design? What’s not there that should be? What have I always planned to raise? Everything’s possible at this time. Nothing that’s not worth a shot. Gardening in heroic mode. (Note to self: “Yes it’s failure, but how good a failure?” - Cornell West.)
Art & Media • Culture & Society • Gardening & Landscape • Politics • Secular Customs • Permalink
Friday, March 02, 2012
Critical Minds and ‘Vegetal Life’
A new book series will publish interdisciplinary studies of plant “being” in religion, food systems, philosophy, art and more. The call for proposals is here.
Arborglyph in an aspen tree, carved by a Basque sheepherder, 1935 (a practice now outlawed), Tahoe National Forest
Photo: L. Hanson
If plants and flowers provoke you to philosophize, if you’d just as soon re-read Allen Ginsberg’s “Sunflower Sutra” as fertilize the peonies, please turn your inspired attention to a new book series from Rodopi (a scholarly publisher based in Amsterdam).
Michael Marder, in the Department of Philosophy of The University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz, kindly asked us to spread the word. The project’s editor, he writes, “This is the first series on ‘critical plant studies’ in the world. We are very enthusiastic about it and are looking forward to receiving manuscripts and book proposals for evaluation.”
Michael thought that Human Flower Project readers and writers were likely to have such books germinating, and we believe he’s right. Georgia, Allen, Jill, Sandy, and EarthScholars Jim and Renee, we know you have a wealth of ideas. And we trust that many other readers do as well. Here you go!
Art & Media • Culture & Society • Religious Rituals • Permalink
Sunday, February 12, 2012
The Arts & Crafts Garden: It Did Fly
From the Edwardian garden, down a slippery slope to many purposes. Or was it up?
Essay and photos by John Levett
In her chapter on “The Arts and Crafts Garden” in her [still] wonderful book The English Garden in the 20th Century, Jane Brown refers, in turn, to Gertrude Jekyll’s Gardens for Small Country Houses. I had a copy of it many decades ago but gave it to a friend when a new move couldn’t house all my collection.
The ‘small country house’ designation is relative. What we think of as a small house in the country these days might easily have referred to the gamekeeper’s cottage in the long-weekend of Edwardian England. Nevertheless, Jekyll’s recommendations are still adapted and muddled through albeit with less of the hard graft that it took then. If I were to redesign my garden now, I’m sure I’d find a copy and hatch a scheme accordingly.
That thought came to me a week ago before the snow arrived. I’d just finished the tidying up of the climbers and ramblers, finished pruning the deadwood and started tying in. Standing back and taking note of what else I could be doing before February is out, it came to me that a redesign over the next couple of years might be prudent. I’ve taken a few falls off the ladder in the past couple of years and the tall growths are getting to be ‘Small Country House’ size. Making changes would be a wrench. There are moments in late May when I sit there and want to be nowhere else. There are a ridiculous number of roses for this patch but I know why I built it this way and the reasons haven’t changed.
I think that maybe the turn-and-turn-around of garden life may push me into change. I think that three or four of the species roses (the earlies) have taken a dive. There’s usually a bud or two showing by now and, with the mild winter we’ve had, I should be seeing some growth; but not so.
Art & Media • Culture & Society • Gardening & Landscape • Permalink