Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

topper-2

Photo: Taobao / JD.com.
Livestreaming has brought some Chinese farmers badly needed customers during the pandemic.

I originally heard this reassuring tale at the radio show called The World, which is great about covering news from around the world, not just the US. If you’d like to listen to the broadcast, click here.

As Karen Hao reported at MIT Technology Review, some Chinese farmers hurting from the Covid-19 lockdown have been saved by technology.

“A few years after Li Jinxing graduated from college, he returned to his rural hometown to become a flower farmer. The days were long but the routine familiar: rise early and tend to the blossoms in the morning; trim and package those in bloom during the afternoon; deliver the parcels, delicately stacked in trucks, to customers by late evening.

“Where the flowers ended up, Li was never quite sure. From his fields in Yunnan province, China, he sold them to national distributors who sold them to flower shops who sold them to end consumers. … It all threatened to come to an end with covid-19.

“Li, 27, remembers the exact moment he heard about the viral outbreak: it was past midnight on January 20, 2020. The Chinese New Year was only five days away, and he had spent the day harvesting flowers in preparation for the expected holiday bump in sales. As he swiped through Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, he saw a fleeting mention of the disease. Li wasn’t sure what to think. Wuhan was nearly 1,200 miles away — the problem felt distant and intangible. …

“But as lockdown protocols swept through the country, panic began to set in. The logistics company that Li relied on had shut down for the holidays, and now the drivers were stuck at home. Without any way to carry out deliveries, Li watched as his flowers plummeted in price and still couldn’t be sold. In the end, tens of thousands of blossoms waiting in storage spoiled. …

“Then, on February 11, he received a message from an old friend, Ao Fenzhen, the COO of a flower distribution company. JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, was offering to help farmers use live-streaming to reach consumers, she said. It would involve broadcasting a few hours of content each day on its app, JD Live, to show off different products and answer questions from potential buyers. The company would provide access to its delivery networks — one of the few that had survived the lockdown — and take a small percentage of sales. Did Li want to join in? …

“Both JD.com and Alibaba-owned Taobao … helped farmers and merchants set up online stores with expedited approvals and showed them how to design the content of their broadcasts. They made their apps more intuitive and used their logistics networks to ship the products directly from farm to home. …

‘Most farmers didn’t know how to live-stream; even fewer understood e-commerce,’ says Zhang Guowei, the head of JD Live.

“But the pressure of the crisis — and the unique scale of China’s consumer base — provided the necessary catalyst. … Growers who had once sold 90% of their products offline have now flipped to selling 90% online. Live-streaming has not only helped the industry weather the crisis — it’s forged an entirely new way of business that is likely to continue long after the pandemic is over.

“Li’s friend Ao had been with her family for the holiday when news of covid arrived. … It was through an ad that she learned of JD.com’s live-streaming initiative. She didn’t have any experience with the medium, but she also didn’t know what else to do. She contacted the company and messaged Li. He was onboard.

“The first week of live-streaming was largely a blur. Ao set up an online store for consumers to make their purchases, and prepared scripts for one to two hours of content per day. Li then used JD Live to broadcast from his fields. He gave a tour of where the flowers grew, showcased their characteristics, and explained how to care for them. Li worked even longer hours than before … but when he sold 100 orders on the first day, he knew they were on to something.

“Through JD’s initiative, Ao and Li also connected with live-stream influencers who offered to help them promote the flowers for free. The pair provided the expertise, teaching the influencers the properties of the flowers and how to arrange them. Once, an influencer’s broadcast surpassed 1 million viewers.

“More orders came flooding in, and Li began to gain his own following. At one point, he remembers, he barely had enough farmhands to fulfill the sales. … By the end of the harvesting season, he had sold several hundred thousand flowers. His and Ao’s businesses had survived.”

More at MIT Technology Review, here.

Read Full Post »

072619-.NYC-rooftop-garden

For the princely sum of $10 a year, a New York senior — my sister, for example — can visit a serene rooftop flower garden any day in the week. And the public can come for free on Sundays.

We made a pilgrimage to the Lotus Garden last Thursday, and it was delightful. The only people who were there at the time were two nannies and two toddlers.

Here is some history from the website. “Once upon a time back in the 1960s, two grand old movie theaters (the Riverside and Riviera) stood on the west side of Broadway, north of 96th Street. Eventually the theaters closed, the building fell into disrepair and was demolished — leaving an empty lot. Would-be gardeners in the neighborhood took over, planting a riot of flowers in the ‘Broadway Gardens,’ while the local politicians, realtors and bankers squabbled over the future of the lot. (Would an Alexanders department store serve the community better than an apartment house?) In the face of fierce community opposition a number of development projects fizzled.

“Determined Upper West Siders organized; local block associations joined the gardeners, along with the City Planning Commission, Community Board 7, and the Trust for Public Land, among others. Out of this emerged a committee, spearheaded by community activists Carrie Maher, a horticulturist, and Mark Greenwald, an architect, which worked with would-be real estate developer William Zeckendorf Jr. on the project for more than a year, persuading him to translate this neighborhood green space into an amenity that would enhance his building’s charm and value.

“Zeckendorf built stairs to the roof from a gate on the street; a cherry picker lofted 3-1/2 feet of topsoil onto the garage roof. Then Carrie and Mark, who headed the garden, laid out winding paths, installed two fish ponds and planted fruit trees and flowering shrubs. At last in the spring of 1983, a group of local residents, including new residents of the Columbia, began to plant flowers and herbs beneath the north facing windows of the Columbia’s tower.  Today 28 families tend garden plots there.  Thus the Lotus Garden, a community garden, came to be built on the roof of the garage of the Columbia condominium, on West 97th Street in Manhattan.” See pictures of the development stages here.

The only drawback I can think of is that the space is not wheelchair accessible. But if you can climb stairs, you are in for a treat. Here are the pictures I took. The peaches on the tree had just started to ripen.

072619-.stairs-to-roof-garden

072619-.Lotus-Garden

072619-peach-tree-Lotus-Garden

Read Full Post »

BIRDNOTE_European-Starling-flowers-Josh-Levinson-C2A9

Photo: Josh Levinson
The European Starling is thought to adorn its nest with flowers to ward off pests.

One of my favorite shows is Living on Earth, an environmental program recorded in Greater Boston and produced by Public Radio International (PRI). One of the show’s regular features is called BirdNote, and you can learn a lot about individual species just from that.

The Living on Earth website recently posted this:

“STEVE CURWOOD: European Starlings can often be found scrounging through the grass of a backyard or a nearby park for tasty treats. But now and then, they’ll also pluck a marigold or other bright flower to bring back to the nest. These flowers aren’t just for decoration, as Michael Stein explains in this week’s BirdNote. It appears to bring health benefits to their young.

“It’s Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

curwood

“European Starlings famously travel in massive flocks, up to one hundred thousand birds strong at times. They can almost resemble a school of fish moving together in a squeaky symphony. And, BirdNote’s Michael Stein reports that when starlings are paired up and raising chicks they have an unusual way to keep their nest clean and healthy. …

“MICHAEL STEIN: Watch long enough, though, and you may see a starling pause in the hunt to neatly pluck a marigold or other bright flower – and then fly up to deposit the bloom in the nest.

“How romantic. But there’s more to it. Ornithologists have found that starlings regularly adorn their twig nests with fresh vegetation – the more fragrant the better. Marigolds, of course, but also elderberry flowers, yarrow leaves, and even willow bark.

“All of which – as your nose will tell you – are full of aromatic chemicals. The starlings are actually fumigating their nests. Why? The chemicals have been thought to help discourage pests and parasites. Scientists have discovered that the smelly plants may offer an even more direct benefit to nestlings – by stimulating their immune systems.
It turns out that starlings hatched in well-fumigated nests tend to weigh more and live longer than those raised without benefit of fragrant herbs.” More.

For another Living on Earth BirdNote, click here. This one is about a Laysan Albatross called Wisdom who was still producing chicks in 2018, despite the fact her 67 years made her quite old for her species. Who knew the Albatross could live so long?

This might be a good time to remind you how Coleridge used an Albatross in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner to send a message — not just to the stunned and speechless wedding guest but to us all:

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

Photo: Kiah Walker, USFWS, CC
Wisdom the Laysan Albatross was still producing chicks at age 67. She doesn’t even look tired.
BIRNOTE_ALBTROSS_FLYING

Read Full Post »

060118-not-a-fox-6tag

This is not a fox. Or as René Magritte might say, “Ceci n’est pas un renard.”

I crept up on it slowly, slowly near the North Bridge, wondering why it stayed so still. Didn’t it see me?

So much for my eyesight: It was a statue. But I did see a real fox crossing a road Friday. (I knew it must be a fox because it trotted like a cartoon fox and had a long, bushy tail.) I have also seen a fawn with its mother and a little weasel recently.

Alas, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera for any of those. I can give you mental pictures only — the deer ambling in a leisurely way, the fox trotting, and the weasel a high-speed blur.

My other photos are mostly accounts of spring in New England, although I couldn’t resist shooting the funny bar inside an actual bank vault. It was located in a Harvard Square restaurant called the Hourly Oyster.

Next you have a view of the Buttrick House garden in Minuteman National Park, an evening shot of our dogwood, a morning shot of a neighbor’s lupines (they do remind me of visiting Sweden’s west coast last year), roses, clematis, honeysuckle, and topiary.

The last two photos are from Rhode Island — early morning at an old house and yellow iris near where Suzanne’s family lives.

052318-vault-at-Hourly-Oyster-CambridgeMA

052318-Buttrick-garden-North-Bridge-ConcordMA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

053018-dogwood-from-window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

060718-roses-on-fence

060718-clematis-Concord-MA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

060618-honeysuckle-Concord-MA

060718-topiary-Concord-MA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

052618-early-morning-weathered-house

052818-yellow-iris-wetlands-Providence

Read Full Post »

Art: Mary Delany (1700-1788)
Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus) paper collage.

I’m not sure how I learned about the extraordinary botanical collages of Mary Delany, but as soon as I saw photos of her work, I headed straight to Wikipedia.

There I got enraged for the umpteenth time about the helplessness of women in past centuries (Delany was forced to marry a 60-year-old when she was 17). Finally, I came to this description of her late-blooming avocation.

“In 1771, a widow in her early 70s, Mary began on decoupage, a fashion with ladies of the court. Her works were detailed and botanically accurate depictions of plants.

“She used tissue paper and hand colouration to produce these pieces. She created 985 of these works, calling them her ‘Paper Mosaiks,’ [from] the age of 71 to 88, when her eyesight failed her.

‘With the plant specimen set before her she cut minute particles of coloured paper to represent the petals, stamens, calyx, leaves, veins, stalk and other parts of the plant, and, using lighter and darker paper to form the shading, she stuck them on a black background. By placing one piece of paper upon another she sometimes built up several layers and in a complete picture there might be hundreds of pieces to form one plant. It is thought she first dissected each plant so that she might examine it carefully for accurate portrayal.’ [Hayden, Ruth. Mrs Delany: her life and her flowers] …

Frances Burney (Madame D’Arblay) was introduced to her in 1783, and frequently visited her at her London home. … She had known many of the luminaries of her day, had corresponded with Jonathan Swift [among others], and left a detailed picture of polite English society of the 18th century in her six volumes of Autobiography and Letters (ed. Lady Llanover, 1861–1862).”

More pictures at Wikipedia, here. You may also be interested in this post, about the botanical art of Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter. Potter, as a woman, failed to receive the attention men in science achieved — a century after Delany.

Read Full Post »

Bryn-Mawr-mayday

Photo: Bryn Mawr College
Students dance around the May pole as part of an ancient spring tradition. A local men’s college used to try to steal May poles in the dead of night. One year a May pole ended up in a swimming pool.

As important as International Workers Day is, please don’t forget about the ancient May Day, the one that welcomes spring with flower baskets deposited at doors and with dances that weave ribbons around a May pole. It’s sweet and fun.

My children used to leave little bouquets of violets and daffodils and tulips on neighbors’ doorsteps. A babysitter showed us how to make baskets using wallpaper from discontinued sample books and a stapler. The kids would ring a neighbor’s bell, then run and hide. If anyone asked us later whether we knew anything about the nice flowers they found outside their door, we always said we had no idea what they were talking about. Which made it pretty obvious, actually.

I remember Mrs. Pulhamous saying to me, “Oh, I’m going to be so sad when your children grow up!”

Recently, I was sorting through files and was reminded that when Suzanne was in Girl Scouts, we made baskets for retirement home residents and received very sweet thank-you notes. I still think the Girl Scouts would be a good organization to carry on the tradition.

050118-secret-May-Day-mission

050118-ring-bell-and-run

Read Full Post »

032918-early-flowers-Monument-St

Yesterday was beautiful. Everyone wanted to be outside. I walked along one of my favorite woodland trails, which connects to the cemetery. At gravesites, there were more Christmas decorations, brown and tattered, than Easter ones. I think if I were a doing cemetery remembrances at holidays, I’d remove them when I took down the decorations at my house. But perhaps family members don’t live nearby.

Pansies seem to be favored for spring.

On Monument Street, a man waiting by a gift shop for his wife volunteered as I passed, “Nice to be in the sun again. It’s been a long winter.” Indeed. In like a lion, out like a lamb.

The Easter Egg Hunt was at my house. The magnificent matzoh balls (made with ginger and nutmeg) are the work of my sister-in-law Lisa.

Whatever you celebrated this weekend I hope that your day was lovely.

033118-cemetery-shadows

033118-flowers-at-gravestone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

033118-bunny-planter-in-graveyard

040118-on-the-move-at-Easter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

040118-Easter-basket-haul

040118-Easter-basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

033018-matzoh-balls-by-Lisa

 

 

 

040118-Easter-chalk-art

Read Full Post »

092317-Amazon-Parrot-side-view

I’ll start with the parrot.

Do you ever think about how a slight change of routine can lead to something interesting? When I was commuting every day, I often missed my train, so I would tell myself maybe it’s OK. Maybe this means I’ll run into an old friend or make a new one or see something amazing out the window that I would have missed otherwise.

Last week, I walked home from an errand on a different side of the street because it was shadier, and I’m pretty sure I would have missed the parrot if I had stuck with routine. Such a small change! The owner returned as I was taking pictures and told me it was an Amazon Parrot. I was impressed that it hadn’t tried to exit the open window.

The next photos are of a local community garden. I tried to find out if the food bank could do gleaning there as I know the original donor wanted the land to feed the poor. Still researching that. It looked like a lot was going to waste there.

Next comes Verrill Farm, with flowers in pots and flowers you can pick yourself — under amazing skies. That farm seems to have especially wonderful skies. I also liked the sky over the church steeple.

The tree, of course, has a face. I don’t know if it’s an Ent. I hope so, but it wasn’t talking.

The next shot shows the early morning sun over Minuteman Park. Then you have some dancing ladies near the deciduous holly. And a photo of the parrot looking at me indignantly.

091617-September-garden

091617-Concord-community-garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

091617-take-only-your-own-produce

091517-Verrrill-Farm-Concord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

091517-pick-your-own-at-Verrill

091517-isthisheaven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

092117-face-in-tree

092717-Minuteman-Park-early-morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

092717-Grecian-dancers-and-holly

092317-Amazon-Parrot-face-forward

Read Full Post »

Photo: Cornell University
Small predators related to jellyfish (Hydroids) and other marine creatures made of glass may be viewed at the Corning Museum of Glass until January 8, 2017.

Visitors to the Boston area are often taken to see the famous glass flowers created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and displayed at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge. I have taken guests there myself.

But it was news to me that the Blaschkas also created sea creatures in glass. Many of those were acquired by Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

According to Wikipedia, the marine specimens came before the flowers.

“Leopold Blaschke was born in Český Dub, Bohemia, to a family which originated from Josefuv Dul (Antoniwald) in the Iser or Izera Mountains, a region known for processing glass, metals and gems. The family had also spent time in the glassblowing industry of Venice.

“Leopold displayed artistic skills as a child, and was apprenticed to a goldsmith and gemcutter. He then joined the family business, which produced glass ornaments and glass eyes. He developed a technique which he termed ‘glass-spinning,’ which permitted the construction of highly precise and detailed works in glass. He also Latinised his family name to ‘Blaschka,’ and began to focus the business on the manufacture of glass eyes.

“In 1853, Leopold was suffering from ill health and was prescribed a sea voyage. He traveled to the United States and back, using the time at sea to study and draw sea animals, primarily invertebrates.’ ” Read how he started making replicas of them at Wikipedia.

The Guardian alerts us to the current exhibition of the Blaschkas’ marine work in upstate New York. “Father and son team Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka created perfect reproductions of invertebrate marine life in glass in their studio in Germany in the 19th century. Cornell University acquired a collection of 570 items in 1885, and a selection of these can be seen at an exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass. ‘Fragile Legacy: The Marine Invertebrate Glass Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka’ runs until 8 January, 2017.”

Amazing photos here.

Read Full Post »

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers! This mother is indulging her interest in photography today (the simple kind: pointing and shooting with a phone). So here are a few recent pictures and explanations for the less obvious.

For example: I went out for a walk one evening and was surprised to encounter Morris Dancers on the steps of the library. They seemed to be practicing, not performing. Where would Morris dancers be performing in late April, after Patriots Day? That was a mystery. Another mystery to me was how young men and boys get drawn into performing Morris Dance. I’m sure it’s good exercise, but …

I include shots of a clay bird’s shadow on my wall and hedge shadows on a sidewalk. The fence with the stage coach and other old timey images painted along the railings is in Providence — easy to overlook when walking past.

Providence plaques and memorials. The one of Martin Luther King Jr. is on a bridge with a view of Water Place. The monument to an event Rhode Island celebrates as the real first engagement of the American Revolution — the colonists’  clash with Brits on the HMS Gaspee — is partly obscured by bushes.

Little old Rhode Island gets no respect. It was also the first colony to sign on for independence, May 4, 1776. Who knew?

042316-daffodils-and-white-feince

042616-1821-universalist-church-providence

 

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20160505_10_01_32_Pro

042416-branches-shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

042416-Morris-dancers-stepping-out

043016-bird-in-window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

042616-stage-coach-on-fence-providence

043016-pavement-shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20160503_07_47_05_Pro

WP_20160504_07_32_57_Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20160504_07_33_23_Pro

 

 

Read Full Post »

May-Day-basket

Happy May Day, Everyone.

Not to take anything away from other things that get celebrated on May 1, but it’s in the ancient rituals of girls dancing ribbons around poles and secretly leaving  baskets of flowers on doorsteps that the deep magic lies.

May-Day-flowers

Read Full Post »

Weather like this is a reminder that simple pleasures are often the best.

A great blue heron flying over Thoreau Street. Buying three Vietnamese fresh rolls and chai tea after tai chi class. Listening to the smart Hillbilly at Harvard program in the car. Sitting on the porch dipping crackers into the famous guacamole from the shop around the corner. Reading in the bath the first Martin Beck mystery by the Swedish partners Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

The pictures show flowers from the yard in a pitcher made by our engineer/potter friend, a bird painted on a utility box, and the garden maintained by the tai chi teacher and his youth classes. He says the care taken with the flowers is the kind of care the school devotes to students.

062714-backyard-bouquet

 

bird-on-utility-box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zen-ren-chuan-garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

These photos are mostly from walks in Concord, although one is from Blithewold in Bristol, R.I. I’d like to develop my eye for good shots in winter, but there are so many more reasons to take pictures in spring! I especially love old, blasted trees with delicate, young flowers. I include one, a dogwood. The lilac in the graveyard is another tree that doesn’t know it’s not as hale and hearty as ever.

On Nashawtuc, a hundred different bird calls replaced the sounds of traffic.

Morning-sky-050214

rustic-flower-basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

church-herb-gaarden

dappled-rhodies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

red-impatiens

 

 

 

 

wisteria-at-dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flowers-at-Blithewold

bondir-landscaping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

crippled-but-flowering-dogwood

lilac-in-graveyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

What a treat to be outdoors in the Greenway again! Flowers and trees are starting to bloom, and there is always something new to observe.

Although I don’t use my phone on my walk, except to take pictures, a new amenity provided by Fort Point neighbor Life is good is likely to be welcomed by many visitors. I saw one phone-recharging kiosk near the Dewey Square food trucks and one near the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Got my lunch at the Vietnamese food truck Bon Me and ate outside in the sun.

spring-in-the-Greenway050614-Greenway-Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

phone-recharging-kioskLifeisgood-kiosk-in-Greenway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dewey-Square-food-truckscorner-Atlantic-and-Congress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »


Photo: Bryn Mawr College

Happy May Day, the old-fashioned kind that involves surprise flowers and dancing around the May Pole.

This year’s came in like a lion, with icy rain, and is going out like a lamb. Spring can’t be stopped now.

Here are a few photos of the season.

Congress-St-flower-boxes

mottled-tree-by-train-stop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pine-branches

May-Day-basket

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: