Wheatfield – A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan.~ Agnes Denes.

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One of my all time favourite works of art – even more relevant today than when it was originally presented to the world in 1982.

Two acres of wheat planted and harvested by the artist on the Battery Park landfill, Manhattan, Summer 1982.

After months of preparations, in May 1982, a 2-acre wheat field was planted on a landfill in lower Manhattan, two blocks from Wall Street and the World Trade Center, facing the Statue of Liberty. Two hundred truckload of dirt were brought in and 285 furrows were dug by hand and cleared of rocks and garbage. The seeds were sown by hand adn the furrows covered with soil. the field was maintained for four months, cleared of wheat smut, weeded, fertilized and sprayed against mildew fungus, and an irrigation system set up. the crop was harvested on August 16 and yielded over 1000 pounds of healthy, golden wheat.

Planting and harvesting a field of wheat on land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox. Wheatfield was a symbol, a universal concept; it represented food, energy, commerce, world trade, and economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger and ecological concerns. It called attention to our misplaced priorities. The harvested grain traveled to twenty-eight cities around the world in an exhibition called “The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger”, organized by the Minnesota Museum of Art (1987-90). The seeds were carried away by people who planted them in many parts of the globe.

The questionnaire was composed of existential questions concerning human values, the quality of life, and the future of humanity. The responses were primarily from university students in various countries where I spoke or had exhibitions of my work. Within the context of the time capsule the questionnaire functioned as an open system of communication, allowing our descendants to evaluate us not so much by the objects we created—as is customary in time capsules—but by the questions we asked and how we responded to them.

The microfilm was desiccated and placed in a steel capsule inside a heavy lead box in nine feet of concrete. A plaque marks the spot: at the edge of the Indian forest, surrounded by blackberry bushes. The time capsule is to be opened in 2979, in the 30th century, a thousand years from the time of the burial.

There are, still within the framework of this project, several time capsules planned on earth and in space, aimed at various time frames in the future.

Postscript: The above text that was written in 1982 has now added poignancy and relevance after 9/11/01

 

Let your life Lightly Dance…by Tagore.

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Looking Fabulous right now: Rhododendron russatum

Gorgeous intense blue-purple flowers with pale centres borne in dense clusters & aromatic dark green evergreen leaves. A lovely small rhododendron shrub that would make a great focal point designed into a border, bed or standalone container.

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Looking Fabulous right now: Hamamelis mollis & Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’.

Nothing quite matches the delicate graceful scents of these two beautiful winter shrubs.

Get up close & personal & breathe it in!

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Hamamelis mollis. Get up close & personal & breathe it in!
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. Hamamelis mollis with its strongly fragrant striking sulphur yellow papery flowers delight in winter.
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Pure delight – Clusters of scented pink flowers  of  Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’.
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Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ has dark purple shoots bearing fat buds bursting with floral wonderment.

 

 

Seed Cleaning.

The task – to extract seeds from their protective capsules so that they can be stored in a fridge slowing down their respiration rate & thus prolong viability for sowing in the New Year. The experience of doing this simple task required mindful patience that revealed a profoundly remarkable sense of how sophisticated seeds truly are. Seemingly specks of dust are cosmic ‘micro chips’ ‘powerhouses’ of growth technology encased in sophisticated capsules that man can only try to imitate.

Reminding me of William Shakespeare’s quote –

In Nature’s infinite book of secrecy, a little I can read.

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Seeds from the Zingiberaceae family.
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Aeschynanthus seeds from the Gesneriaceae family.

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Lycopodiaceae spores on a leaf from the Club Moss family.

 

First Frost & clearing back Herbaceous perennials.

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A frosted Walled garden.
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Crystallized Verbena bonariensis
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Frosty Penstemon ‘Burgundy’
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Flower head structure of  Agapanthus inapertus subsp. pendulus‘Graskop’ accentuated by frost.
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Herbaceous border with Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora ‘Carmin Brillant’ in the foreground.
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Gorgeous frosted foliage of Euryops pectinatus.
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Frosted flower heads of Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’

Herbaceous Perennials are not demanding plants, but trimming them after flowering finishes in late autumn/early winter helps improve their appearance and flowering. However, some stems can be left over winter to provide homes & food for wildlife, & then trimmed back in spring.

Propagation part 2: Potting up Penstemon ‘Alice Hindley’ rooted cuttings!

You may recall approx 4 weeks ago I gathered cuttings from half hardy plants. They have successfully rooted so now is the time to pot them up.

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Lovely healthy rooted cuttings.
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The potting mix is 2-part John Innes No.1 & 1-part multi purpose compost.
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Healthy rooted cutting ready to pot up.img_0663
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Pinch out the top part of the plant to halt flower growth for now. Pinching out at this stage will also encourage bushy plant growth.

 

 

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Baby penstemon plant with newly formed roots potted up.

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