Human Flower Project

Culture & Society

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


May Day honors workers in Greece, but it also occasions flower picking and wreath making, an old custom from the days when everyone was a worker.


Children in Crete collect flowers to fashion into wreaths, May 1.

Photo: Brent Scheneman

Protomagia is Greek even we can understand. It’s the celebration of May 1st – the peak of spring wildflower season there.

In Crete, and other parts of Greece too, the day draws people out of doors to pick blooms and turn them into wreaths that will hang on and about doorways for the next several weeks.

Effusive blogger Sunny Fotini  writes that Protomagia is a “day off for everybody.” (It’s also the national Labor Day holiday.) “We did what our ancestors did thousands years ago,” writes Sunny. “Celebrate the Mother Nature!”

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Posted by Julie on 05/01 at 12:58 PM
Culture & SocietySecular CustomsPermalink

Friday, April 27, 2012


More luscious than Penthouse, seed catalogues of the late 19th Century were designed to sell, and to procreate.

imageJohn Lewis Childs

seed packet

Floral Park, NY 1897

Smithsonian Institution

You don’t have to have a trowel, or a yard, much less green fingers or familiarity with pH and hardiness zones to come home with a seed packet.

Dig around in any drawer around here and you’ll find sweet pea, zinnia, and even proteas packets from years gone by. We keep on hand an envelope of edelweiss seed a friend brought back from Germany years ago just…, well, just because.

Seed packets contain promise, especially for those of us who know little or nothing about viability. They’re the proto-triumph of potential, miniature bulwarks against future gloom and deprivation. Maybe that’s why repositories of them are called “banks.”

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Posted by Julie on 04/27 at 03:29 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink

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.

Photo: Bloom

“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).

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Posted by Julie on 03/21 at 09:11 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietySecular CustomsPermalink

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Garden Inspiration: Yin or Yang

Allen Bush, just back from a major conference of plantsmen, remembers two impossibilities and several mentors that sealed his gardening fate.

imageAgastache ‘Tango’

Photo: Jelitto Seed

By Allen Bush

I’d barely shoved-off from the hotel curbside when the cab driver asked abruptly, “What’s your name?” I hadn’t swept the sleep from my eyes but I knew where this was going. It’s not commonplace anymore, but the Bush on my nametag still draws the occasional question: “Are you related to George Bush?”  (I always feel like I’m being lobbed a soft one. )

“He’s my father.”

“You’re kidding?!”

My father’s name was George.  When Bush the elder was President, besotted bar flies would occasionally get the fool idea to call the commander in chief in the middle of the night. My father was the only George Bush listed in the Louisville directory.  (It must have been much too complicated to call Washington-D.C. directory assistance in the wee hours to get the White House switchboard.)  Dad hung-up three or four times before he had his name taken out of the phone book.  Listening to a slurred Pledge of Allegiance at 2:00 a.m was not his patriotic duty.

Moses, the Nigerian cab driver, talked non-stop for 15 minutes from downtown all the way up North Charles Street to the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center. I got an earful about politicians (none were to be trusted) and the Bushes. I wanted only a little quiet.

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Posted by Julie on 03/14 at 04:20 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink
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