Archive | April 2012

Earth Day


Queensland Begonia Society on Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth‘s natural environment. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network,[1] and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year.[2] In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day.[3] Earth Day is planned for April 22 in all years at least through 2015.[4]

References

This planet is not terra firma.
It is a delicate flower and it must be cared for.
It’s lonely.
It’s small.
It’s isolated, and there is no resupply.
And we are mistreating it.

– Scott Carpenter, astronaut

Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.

– Biblical proverb

It is only when we are aware of the earth and of the earth as poetry that we truly live.

– Henry Beston, 1935, Herbs and the Earth

Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places.

– Henry Beston

I conjure you, my brethren, to remain faithful to earth, and do not believe those who speak unto you of superterrestrial hopes! Poisoners they are, whether they know it or not.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

Remain true to the earth.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

I thought how utterly we have forsaken the Earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts. There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity. It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes, barrens, wilds. It still dwarfs, terrifies, crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. His gardens, orchards and fields are mere scrapings. Somehow, however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows. But the giant is there, nevertheless.

– Wallace Stevens, Letters, p. 73

The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum like the leaves of a book, to be studied by geologists and antiquaries chiefly, but living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit — not a fossil earth, but a living earth; compared with whose great central life all animal and vegetable life is merely parasitic.

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.

– William Alexander, A Father’s Book, 1997

Talk of mysteries! Think of our life in Nature — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks. The solid earth!

– Henry David Thoreau

Go where he will, the wise man is at home,
His hearth the earth, his hall the azure dome.

– Ralph W. Emerson

The earth is the very quintessence of the human condition.

– Hannah Arendt

It was not until we saw the picture of the earth, from the moon, that we realized how small and how helpless this planet is — something that we must hold in our arms and care for.

– Margaret Mead

As we begin to comprehend that the earth itself is a kind of manned spaceship hurtling through the infinity of space — it will seem increasingly absurd that we have not better organized the life of the human family.

– Hubert H. Humphrey

Smile O voluptuous coolbreathed earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
Earth of departed sunset!
Earth of the mountains misty-top!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!
Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!
Far-swooping elbowed earth!
Rich apple-blossomed earth!
Smile, for your lover comes!

– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855, I Celebrate Myself, Line 439

God owns heaven, but He craves the earth.

– Anne Sexton

Gardening is not a rational act. What matters is the immersion of the hands in the earth, that ancient ceremony of which the Pope kissing the tarmac is merely a pallid vestigial remnant.

– Margaret Attwood

I am interested in the way that we look at a given landscape and take possession of it in our blood and brain. None of us lives apart from the land entirely; such an isolation is unimaginable. If we are to realize and maintain our humanity, we must come to a moral comprehension of earth and air as it is perceived in the long turn of seasons and of years.

– N. Scott Momaday

To see the earth as we now see it, small and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the unending night — brothers who see now they are truly brothers.

– Archibald MacLeish

The word humility (also human) is derived from the Latin humus, meaning “the soil”. Perhaps this is not simply because it entails stooping and returning to earthly origins, but also because, as we are rooted in this earth of everyday life, we find in it all the vitality and fertility unnoticed by people who merely tramp on across the surface, drawn by distant landscapes.

– Piero Ferrucci, Inevitable Grace

God does not die on that day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reasoning. … When the sense of the earth unites with the sense of one’s body, one becomes earth of the earth, a plant among plants, an animal born from the soil and fertilizing it. In this union, the body is confirmed in its pantheism.

– Dag Hammarskjold

I pledge devotion to the earth, our one and only home, and to the life this earth sustains; one nation, one spirit indivisible, with freedom and fulfillment for all.

– Bruce Hagen, New Pledge of Allegiance, 1983

Brussels Biennial Flower Carpet: Blooming Begonia Art


Every two years for the past 40 years, the city of Brussels has drawn in a veritable collection of artisans, architects, designers, urban planners and home-furnishing enthusiasts to create and celebrate the unveiling of enormous carpets hand-crafted entirely from grassy turf and multicoloured begonia blooms. Having begun in 1971, this large-scale ephemeral floral art continues into modern days with elaborate designs ranging from medieval to art-nouveau styles. At Grand-Place in Brussels, this begonia carpet extravaganza was assembled by nearly 120 volunteers with close to one million begonias in merely four hours.

The next Flower Carpet Biennial is only four months away on 15 August 2012. Prepare to be dazzled again by one of the greatest begonia shows on Earth!

Excerpts from Brussels' Flower Carpet

The Begonias

The beauty and diversity of all these Carpets is largely due to their main component, the famous begonia. Chosen above all for its qualities of robustness, resistance to bad weather and strong sunshine the begonia guarantees the long life and freshness of the carpet. It also gives it is rich range of colours – from vivid colours to delicate pastel shades, with in between, the parti-coloured and white flowers which reflect the light so well.

This flower, the ideal ornament, which is already traditionally used in pageants and floral corsages, is also much loved by householders who use them to brighten their balconies and windowsills and embellish their flowerbeds. 80% of the total production of begonias, a native of the West Indies, cultivated almost exclusively in the Ghent area since 1860, is exported. Belgium cultivates 60 million begonia tubers every year, and is recognised as the world’s largest producer. The Netherlands, France and the United States are its best customers.

History

Officially, the first Floral Carpet as its present-day form was created in 1971 on the Grand-Place by the landscape architect E. Stautemans, but, in fact, it was the culmination of a whole series created in various towns in Flanders.

E. Stautemans, who was born in Zottegem, and graduated from the Ghent Horticultural College, had been experimenting since the early 1950s making simple small carpets, more like rugs, mainly consisting of begonias (in Knokke, Oudenaarde, Sint-Niklaas, Lille…).

He very quickly realised that floral carpets would be an excellent vehicle for the promotion of his beloved begonias which he had always worked with, both technically, economically and aesthetically.

After years of attempts and calculations, this architect, who was inventive and imaginative, and knew how to make the most of the numerous resources of begonias, became an expert in the creation of superb floral carpets with sophisticated colours and complicated designs.

His fame spread and he was asked to make carpets not only in Belgium (Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Ypres, Courtrai, Hasselt, Tongres, Mons, Durbuy, …) but worldwide (Cologne, Hamburg, Luxemburg, Paris, London, Breda, Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Valencia, and as far afield as Buenos Aires and Colombus, Ohio).

Some of these carpets were bigger than the ones created in Brussels (77 x 24 m), like the 1973 masterpiece at Sint-Pietersplein, Ghent that reached a gigantic 164 x 42 m.

However, as E. Stautemas himself says, “Nowhere is the carpet more beautiful and distinguished than in the unique, ancient surroundings of the Grand-Place in Brussels”.

Making a Carpet

The actual making of the Carpet is based on a plan worked out in advance, consisting of several stages.

Everything starts, often a year in advance, with projects and scale models, illustrating a commissioned theme (such as the commemoration of great events, or the arms and shield of a town, and sometimes the proposals of local horticultural associations).

Once the theme has been produced in representation and symbol, the number of flowers and colour combinations calculated and the outlines finally drawn on the ground, then the work starts. The skilful, dedicated work of a hundred experienced gardeners and their enthusiasm enables them to put together this giant floral jigsaw in under four hours.

The day before, the spaces between the floral patterns will already have been filled with rolled turf. Did you know – that the flowers are packed together one by one, 300 to every square meter of the ground, (+/- 750,000 flowers!) so tightly (no soil is used at all) that they won’t be blown away by the first puff of wind, and create their own microclimate? In heat waves, the turf has to be watered to prevent it from shrinking, but if the weather is too wet, the grass can grow 4 to 5 centimeters in 3 days? The wonders of nature!

Happy Easter!


Happy Easter!