Sunday, March 28, 2010

Observing some traditions, forsaking others

Armed with my dysfunctional digital camera, I set out on this last sunny March weekend day to keep up with my growing traditions as well as experience how others respond to plant life. In the late morning I headed over to my plot at the Minton Stable Garden and turned over some of the soil for the first time in 2010. With a few breaks to chat with others passing through, I managed to dig up about a third of the plot, exhume the skeletons of last fall's broccoli, and sow the following: Forellenshluss Romaine Lettuce (a success from last year that I hope to repeat), Summertime Iceberg (for the younger taste buds), and Tyee Spinach (which Fedco sent as a substitute for the Space I had ordered). I repeated the same planting later in the afternoon in my backyard raised bed.Around 2:00 I was back in JP, to pick up my friend Kim and head down to to Mobius, an experimental arts organization in Boston's South End, for an event that had intrigued us, the Alternative Experimental Flower Show. We had attended the traditional flower show on and off for years, but despite the change in venue (Boston's World Trade Center) and main sponsor (formerly Massachusetts Horticultural Society, now Paragon Group), we could already envision the types of exhibits we'd encounter for the $20 we'd end up spending (although I do regret missing a display that Asa, a fellow Steering Committee member, had some involvement in assembling). We were looking forward to spending only $5 to support a great non-profit and not knowing what to expect.

Outside the entrance, we encountered the bouquets of flowers that we assumed that people had brought the past few nights as part of the admission fee to the dances and other live performances. Inside, Kim took advantage of a rare opportunity--she became a plant, potted by one of the artists, Cathy Nolan Vincevic. She removed her shoes, stepped into a pot, then Cathy added some potting soil and greenery. Feet buried in the dirt, Kim sensed what it was like to have a strong root system. She asked how she should behave, a little surprising given her extensive knowledge as a gardener, and her friend Marlo and I suggested that she face the sun. Other works in the exhibit included bananas and banana peels arranged like flowers (by Ursula Ziegler) and Bill Evertson's "Thorns in the Garden," where the visitor watches a looping video of various scenes of environmental destruction through a telescope and has the opportunity to buy fake seed packets with colorful images of mushroom clouds over fields of flowers and maps of chemical weapons storage sites. Deborah Bohnert, who has been giving away much of her art over the course of her career, made sure we didn't leave without one of her elegant pyramid-shaped potpourri pieces.

The installations provided a much-needed contrast to the traditional flower show exhibits. Instead of cordoning plant life off from human contact, we were encouraged to mingle with it in some cases, witness how it must hold up in the face of other forces, whether they be environmental or cultural (such as how they are portrayed in origami and other mediums), and see floral features in other objects.Later at home, as the skies began to cloud foreshadowing a soggy week ahead, I decided to be proactive and start some snap peas indoors. Reading a post from Dan's blog last week, I was reminded how the seeds that had germinated under the grow lights last season fared much better than those that I had sown directly into my backyard garden. I did plant some last weekend but it's still too early to tell how they'll do. I brought my peat pots indoors and added them to the other occupants under the grow lights, including my Black Prince tomatoes (above) and Piricicaba broccoli (below). So far, I feel I should have taken my delphinium seed money and bought a nice cup of coffee instead, but at least most my vegetables are progressing normally.


Daphne said...

I used to go to the flower show every year with a friend of mine who was also an avid gardener. When she left I never went again. It just isn't the same going without a good friend to go with.

Bryan Bunch said...

Sounds like a great day. By the way, I got your Space Spinach seeds from Fedco and some are planted (outside). So come visit this spring and see what you are missing.

Sally said...

Daphne: I agree. I had only gone to the Bayside with a friend or parents, usually folks with more gardening knowledge which helped me come away learning more than I would have if had gone alone..

Bryan: I goofed, I meant to say Olympia, not Space, which I grew last year. But I do plan to come visit at some point.