The Unforgettable Mass Murder at Columbine High School and Its Inaccurate Cultural Mythology

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

blue and white columbine flowers against a sunlit sky

Truly powerful people are not concerned about their power, but about being in a position of being able to empower.

Nadja Swarovski

In our culture and many others, flowers often commemorate people and events. Since April 20, 1999 a common wildflower has taken on an additional meaning no American should forget. That indelible association refers to Columbine High School just outside Denver, Colorado. The community where it’s located took its name from the state flower. The blue sepals symbolize the sky, its white petals represent snow, and the bright yellow center reminds us of the gold that helped establish the state. Read more

Sound of the Season: Gary Schocker’s Cherry Blossoms

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

a photograph looking at a blue sky through the branches of an ornamental cherry tree in bloom; this pale pink variety is called 'Akebono', which means "dawn"
This is a variety called ‘Akebono’ which means ‘Daybreak’ or ‘Dawn’.

“A simple phrase can say a thousand words that a thousand notes cannot. This is my attraction to Gary’s music. I have always identified with his music; his beautiful, elegant melodies and corresponding harmonies free of excess. It’s my legacy to share his music with the harp world.”

harpist Emily Mitchell,
check out an interview here

Over the past three decades, American flutist-composer Gary Schocker has written well over 100 pieces for harp. Only a small percentage of that abundance has been recorded, but it includes a septet called Cherry Blossoms. Written in 2006 for flute, clarinet, harp, and string quartet, Cherry Blossoms may recall the instrumentation of another piece now a century old. In case the unusual instrumentation seems familiar, that’s because Read more

Observe Thomas Jefferson’s Legacy by Spending Some Time in Nature

The front of a $2 bill showing Thomas Jefferson's portrait.
Since Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, today is an apt occasion to consider his legacy and follow his example.

White boards, cell phones, tablets, and computers are not the only things that assist and enable creativity. So does taking a break, particularly one outdoors!

Activity where we do something without needing to think about it very much actually shifts us into a different state of consciousness. Now there’s a term for this state of mind: “transient hypofrontality.” Long before this term was invented, however, the greatest minds of society had already figured it out.

When Thomas Jefferson wasn’t running the country or visiting France, he was usually working in his yard. When Beethoven wasn’t writing music or playing the piano, he often took walks in nature. When Emily Dickinson wasn’t baking or writing poems, she was often working in the garden or tending potted plants in the greenhouse. When Monet wasn’t painting . . . you get the idea. Read more

Flowers of the Forest by Jean Elliot

a woodland scene with bluebells carpeting the forest floor

There’s always a time appropriate for these verses, given the events in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the unchanging human condition. It is safe to predict the forests of humanity will always produce such flowers.

The best introduction to these timeless “flowers” comes from about 1,000 years ago: Read more

Get Affirmative and Transformational Results When You Consider the Social and Psychological Side of Gardening

a tray of seedlings showing sprouts just about an inch high

Here are two stories about fitting in, standing out, and being yourself, one from Scotland and one from Wales. Both stories align with this adage from Bernard Baruch that I hope you know already:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Then there’s this query from author and speaker Ian Wallace:

“Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Coming from Scotland, Tom Smart makes some really fine points about gardening and the pleasure of being outdoors. He describes a recent conversation with a person who complained about cutting his lawn Read more

Build Anticipation With an Allée

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but a few help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

A color photo showing a driveway lined with Callery pear trees loaded with white flowers.
Callery pear makes a statement out of a driveway.

Not everyone owns enough property to have an allée. Other people do but live in hilly places; uneven terrain is simply not suited to creating this kind of effect. But where it can be done, ooh la la, does it ever create a sense of anticipation and arrival!

As we’ll see, an allée does far more than define space by creating an axis aligned with the house. To begin with the obvious, it’s also practical and good for the Earth. Canopied pavement is the best sort because it heats up less in summer. If I could design all parking lots, believe me, they wouldn’t look the way they always do!

Centuries ago, a tree-lined drive became a traditional treatment for the entrance to an estate. In the United States, I think most examples were in the southeast. Most of these are gone, but a few are still around. Shall we have a little look? Read more

The Gardening Mistakes Often Made By People Who Think They’re Doing It Right

note: The purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Feel free to donate if you’d like to support this web site.

a color photograph of a garden journal with a pen beside it

The only thing we have learned from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.

Chinua Achebe

Problem #1: Most of us start doing things without a way of keeping it organized.

Thomas Jefferson kept a garden journal and so should you . . . or a folder or a 3-ring binder or something!

Ever had this experience? Where did I plant the . . . Read more

Why Didn’t Macon, Georgia Learn This Lesson from History?

Monoculture shouldn’t be encouraged the way this one has been.

Listen patiently, quietly, and reverently to the lessons, one by one, which Mother Nature has to teach, shedding light on that which was before a mystery, so that all who will may see and know.

Luther Burbank

If you violate Nature’s laws you are your own prosecuting attorney, judge, jury, and hangman.

Luther Burbank

a color photograph of double white cherry blossoms against a clear blue sky with tiny green leaves and dark branches nearly blackAs spring arrives, communities nationwide are holding blossom festivals that of course have no connection to the pagan cultures we often rebuke and nature worship that predates Christianity. No, they’re about tourism and promoting the local economy. They’re also about bringing people together, creating unity rather than division based on wealth, religious beliefs, and politics that often yield acrimony.

As we crown blossom queens and spoof kings who were added not long ago to remedy the inequality and sexism of a beauty pageant (note to self: watch Drop Dead Gorgeous again), there’s a glaring problem behind some of these festivals that many people in the community aren’t aware of Read more

In a Persian Garden by Liza Lehmann

Note: the timing of this post is meant to tie in with both Women’s History Month and the Persian New Year known as Nowruz or Norooz.

Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

a 17th Century Persian panel of tiles in shades of blue and yellow showing people enjoying themselves outside in a setting of blooming plants and trees
Fritware wall panel now in the Louvre, 1500s-1600s, showing entertainment in a garden
(similar to this one at the Victoria and Albert Museum)

The word “paradise” comes from an old Persian word that means “a walled garden.” The intent of that walled garden, however, was indeed to create an earthly paradise. At the beginning of the Old Testament, Genesis 2 mentions four rivers in the Garden of Eden, so these spaces were traditionally divided into quadrants, known as chahar bagh. In addition, so was the country.

oil painting showing inner courtyard and garden at the Palacio del Generalife and Patio de la Acequia near the Alhambra in Granada, Spain painted in 1848 by Wilhelm MeyerThat design sounds formal, and often these areas were courtyards with pavilions and elaborate tile work. You might wonder: what did Persians plant there? Most had rows of trees such as cypresses, sycamores, or date palms, possibly low boxwood hedges, and perhaps sycamores, beeches, lindens, palms, or other trees such as mimosa or redbud at intersecting points or just planted around for shade. But despite its formal tendencies, Read more

The Shocking History Behind Two Brides of Spring by Edmonia Lewis

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead. Also, this writeup is long and strays from the topic of gardening. Initially all I wanted to do was share a lovely sculpture pertaining to the season and raise awareness of a little-known artist. As you’ll see from the background I uncovered, how could I not tell you about this?

 

“There is nothing so beautiful as the free forest. To catch a fish when you are hungry, cut the boughs of a tree, make a fire to roast it, and eat it in the open air, is the greatest of all luxuries. I would not stay a week pent up in cities if it were not for my passion for Art.”

letter from 1864

a statue of a draped figure of spring carved by 19th Century sculptress Edmonia LewisAt the end of the 1870s, while living in Rome, American sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis appears to have made two personifications of Spring evoking the Roman goddess Flora. Both figures are veiled and pose identically, but one statue, decked with beautiful garlands, is more elaborate. There is a fine essay by Theresa Leininger-Miller describing that piece. The simpler second one, exhibited in Boston in 1881, is shown here courtesy of Skinner, Inc.

A veiled figure was very challenging to portray convincingly in stone, so one was always undertaken to demonstrate mastery. Part of the inspiration for a veiled figure may have been Read more

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