Monday, November 28, 2011

Ilex Aquifolium

As a nod to the continuation of the holiday season I thought it pertinent to post about Holly, as I myself knew little to nothing about the plant itself nor was I familiar with its origins within the Christmas tradition.

An overview: Ilex aquiforium, or European holly, originated in the south of Europe and eventually spread through that continent, making its way to Australia. Although its berries are toxic to humans, birds have no trouble digesting them, which appears particularly attractive for the shrub bears fruit throughout much of the winter season. As for its status as a holiday mainstay, holly was first used as a representation within the Christian tradition when Oliver Cromwell claimed power in England after the execution of King Charles I; his reign would last almost a decade (1649-1658). Puritanism was proclaimed as the nation's religion, forcing Christians to develop unobtrusive ways to worship as they desired. It was during this time that holly came to represent the crown of thorns worn by Christ, and its berries Christ's blood, for Christians used the boughs of this evergreen as a reminder of their savior's birth, suffering, and death.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Freesia Corymbosa

Image taken by Kyle Gercer on Flickr.

This is a flower I've never encountered in person but have seen put to use as a fragrance for soaps, perfumes, and candles alike. Of course, those smells are infused with that of chemical bonding and unnatural additives, an unfair representation of freesia's actual aroma. What have I been missing? Just today I saw a photograph of freesia corymbosa (pictured above) and was reminded of my desire to know its scent, to set it up against those impostors and their harsh, often overwhelming, redolence. Unfortunately the flowers are now out of season as they bloom in the high months of summer; but I am determined not to forget this, so I will make myself a note and return to it come late Spring. I've an inkling that this is a flower worth the seeking.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Community Gardens

Although the height of blossoming has passed for most gardens, I find that I am always nostalgic for the city's community garden-spaces. Just down a few blocks on South 2nd is a lot that, until recent weeks, remained defiantly green despite the cold and diminished sunlight. A number of hand painted signs hang loosely upon the chain-link fence, one declaring the area as always welcoming new members and another, purple and faded, with a cartoony silhouette of a dog to remind owners to keep the city, especially its cherished green hideaways, clean.

And now again I dream of my future rooftop garden, if ever a structure is meant to exist; and my bitterness at the change of season from Autumn to Winter becomes more palpable with every gust of harsh city wind as it reminds me the hardships I will most definitely face when maintaining my own urban plot.

Come Spring I will have a share in this community soil.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

The Sun's Flower

Today I came across this photo, which features Ai Weiwei (a controversial and of-the-moment Chinese artist and activist) standing amongst one-hundred million handmade Sunflower seeds. This is his most recent installation, which can be seen at the Tate Modern Gallery in London.

The brilliance and complexity of this installation mirrors that of natural design itself; whilst reading up on Weiwei's piece I was immediately reminded of the Sunflower's commanding face, brightly-colored as it is and equally as stoic, all of those seeds nestled in an intricate pattern that I will never understand. And whereas "hundred of skilled hands" created the millions of porcelain faux-seeds for the Sunflower Seeds exhibit, we cannot attribute the existence of the real seed to any one person or actor or thing. This is the sublimity of nature, especially as it can be said to reflect or embody our humanity.

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