Human Flower Project


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Floral Footholds

We stumble over a family milestone, inching on with the fortification of blooms and friends.


Rue anemone, periwinkle and narcissus in the April yard

Louisville, Kentucky, 2011

Photo: Human Flower Project

“April is the cruelest month,” our mother recalled. She had been admitted to the hospital April 4, her 90th birthday, seized with pain after a spinal compression fracture.

Who knows how it happened? She suspects it was a vigorous two hours about a week prior – one of the first fine spring days in Kentucky. With someone to look after her 97-year-old husband (our father) for the morning, she had checked on the peonies in her side yard, then gotten down on her knees and begun weeding with relish.

“I was having so much fun,” she told us from a bed at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, bitter and wistful.

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Posted by Julie on 04/17 at 09:32 PM
Culture & SocietyFloristsGardening & LandscapeSecular CustomsPermalink

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Flower Vendors: Keeping It Informal

It’s happened in San Antonio and San Francisco, and now in Istanbul; authorities are trying to get flower vendors to buy in and make their work official.


A boy makes flower garlands to sell on the street in Hyderabad, India

Photo: Sandy Ao

Within the heart of every self-proclaimed progressive, a dictator is lurking:

“You must not be poor. You WILL be clean and happy!”

For progressives, nothing’s crazier or more intolerable than people who won’t be “bettered.“ But the record shows that, despite 150 years of social science and persuasion, there are plenty of folks who don’t want to sign up for the program.

In the realm of commerce, this recalcitrance is called “the informal economy.” For obvious reasons, it includes the black market, but most of its participants are selling things that are perfectly legal – like flowers. They’re just operating outside the reach of officialdom and regulation.

Anybody who’s ever been paid in cash (or, alternatively, had to fill out pages of forms and file the pounds of paper that the “formal economy” demands) knows there are advantages to marginality. But there are disadvantages, too. Ask any undocumented worker who’s been cheated out of a day’s pay.

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Posted by Julie on 07/29 at 09:41 PM
Cut-Flower TradeFloristsPoliticsPermalink

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Florist with Prairie Aesthetics

Combining the grow-local ethic with a fondness for rangeland plants, Kimberly Hess will let Mother Nature handle inventory for her flower shop.


Kimberly Hess uses curly dock, a prairie wildflower, in arrangements. Her shop, soon to open in Fargo, ND, will feature the region’s wild plants, homegrown on her farm.

Photo: Sarah Kolberg, for the Grand Forks Herald

It’s a long way from the world’s renowned flower-growing regions—Lisse in the Netherlands or Medellin, Colombia—to Halstad, Minnesota. Nobody told Kimberly Hess that, though. She’s planning to open a flower shop in nearby Fargo, North Dakota, using the grasses and wildflowers that grow at her farm along the Red River.

Tu-Uyen Tran of the Grand Forks Herald wrote a fine feature story about Hess and her plans for Prairie Petals.

Halstad, pop. 622, is in far western Minnesota, a farming community settled by Norwegian immigrants. In fields of her own 150-acres and ditches through the surrounding countryside, Hess finds wild hemlock, sedge and lead plants, along with “purple prairie clovers and the violet flowers of the vervains, ignored or unseen by drivers roaring by on the asphalt.

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Posted by Julie on 07/08 at 02:44 PM
Cut-Flower TradeEcologyFloristsPermalink

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spotlit Sympathy for Michael

Is there is “sixth stage” of grief, called self-promotion?


A plea for tributes brought quick response—2000 sunflowers at Michael Jackson’s grave in Glendale, CA

Photo: Richard Beetham, for Splash News

Floral customs may be rooted in the past (sometimes so far there’s no accounting for origins), but the enduring ones can’t help but bloom in the present.

How’s this for an “extreme make-over” of sympathy flowers? 

It’s coming up on a year since performer Michael Jackson died. Lisa Marie Presley, who was married to Jackson 1994-96, tried to fire up his fans with a request May 12 on MySpace.

Presley wrote that she had recently visited Jackson’s crypt at Holly Terrace, Glendale, California, and was dismayed at the puny number of floral tributes. “I thought you might like to know,” LMP informed the public, “that he would want and deserves more than what is there…. I know how much he loved and appreciated being showered with Gifts and flowers by his fans.” She explained that “happy” sunflowers were MJ’s favorite and asked everyone to “SURROUND HIM” with blooms.

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Posted by Julie on 05/18 at 03:08 PM
FloristsSecular CustomsPermalink
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