THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Sep15

Gilding the Lily – Amy Stewart (Part One)

Gilding the Lily: Inside the Cut Flower Industry by Amy Stewart is about the life of a cut flower before it arrives in the shop.

Her extensive research is a must-read – this is not a book designed solely for people interested in growing flowers, or people who love the beauty of flowers in the house – it is a book that has a wider focus and is able to join the dots between first world consumption, the quest for a luxury item and what happens to an industry when a product (and the people who create it) become a commodity measured only in price.

Here are some key quotes from the book…

On breeding a rose for the cut flower market…

“7 years to design a rose in a laboratory and bring it to market. 6000 miles from a geneticist in Amsterdam to a farmer in Ecuador. 3 months of careful watching and waiting while the Valentines Day crop grows. 5 days, 2 airplanes, and a couple of trucks to get them to my house… they’d last a week in the vase.”

On the ephemeral nature of cut flowers…

“What amazed me most about this extraordinarily complex worldwide industry is this: they do it all for something as perishable and ephemeral as a flower. Airplanes fly in from Kenya and trucks drive from Holland and acres of greenhouses get built and billions of dollars change hands. All that for the alstroemerias you pick up at the grocery store as an afterthought…”

On seasonal vs trade flowers…

“The cut flower trade is all about this struggle between what is natural and unspoiled and what is mass produced and commercial.”

On flowers as a symbol of love…

“If the mixed bouquet of red roses and pink chrysanthemums designed by a national wire service at Valentines Day is indistinguishable from 1000’s of others delivered that same day all across the country, does that make the message it carries any less significant?”

On Gilding the Lily…

“The more time I spent around the flower industry, the more I wondered if we were expecting too much from them (the flowers). Who are we to take a symbol of perfection, purity, and love and try to improve upon it… are we, in fact, gilding the lilly?”

On the florists impact…

“I realised that one reason why customers have so little idea where flowers come from is that their only point of contact in the industry – the florist – may have little idea either.”

On an opinion she heard about organic flowers…

“Why have organic flowers when you don’t eat them?”

(And to that last comment we reply – because it is a choice of how we treat the landscape…)

So that is Gilding the Lily by Amy Stewart, which you can buy at a lovely low price here at Amazon.

And here is is Part Two.

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

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Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

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Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

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