A lady recently wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper, the Spokesman-Review, commenting on how lovely Duncan Gardens looks this year:
"If you have not seen the 'jewel' of Spokane, take time to drive through Manito Park to see the Duncan Gardens. They are the most beaufitul that I have seen them in 80 years. Yes, 80 years ago I saw them for the first time, and almost every year since. Thank you, Spokane Parks Department, for this most beautiful display this year."
Karla and I tell ourselves every day how fortunate we are to live so close to the park and to be able to walk through this garden every single day.
During my serendipitous library visit the other day I picked up a terrific book by Amy Stewart, Flower Confidential, which is about the cut flower industry. Her previous book is And the Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms.
Amy Stewart divides her book into three parts: Breeding, Growing, and Selling. I liked the last part best, as she traces the arrival of cut flowers from all over the world at Miami airport and describes the thorough examination they undergo (by Homeland Security types -- I wonder how they got the assignment.) The tulips on my coffee table may have come from as far as 3,000 miles away.
She devotes a chapter to selling "under the clock" in Amsterdam, where most of the rest of the world's flowers are sold just as they have been for the last hundred years. This could be done much easier, quicker, and cheaper on line, but no one is going to wean the stand-pat Dutch flower brokers from their traditions. Might just as well try to convince Amsterdam diamond brokers to change their ways.
She also talks about "certified flowers" that are guaranteed to come from farms where the workers are not exposed to pesticides and other harmful chemicals (even if the flowers are.) This links with the Growing part of her book where she visits growers in California, Holland, and Equador and describes the conditions under which the flowers are grown and the employees must work.
The first section, on Breeding, is a mesmerizing tale of the breeding of lilies, roses, tulips, etc., a little history of flowers, some flower anatomy, the quest for the blue rose, and of course the Dutch and their important contributions to the world of flowers.
Amy has a blog, Dirt, that has a quirky charm, what with her list of chicken blogs, and of course, earthworm blogs, and her responses to stories and op-ed pieces in the NY Times. (Who knew earthworms were so controversial?) I'm looking forward to reading the book about the earthworms. Stewart is a young woman, which delights me, because I look forward to many many more books about horticulture (or anything else she wants to write about) from her gifted pen.