Bartram’s Boxes at the Philadelphia Flower Show

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Sara Brown, Ann Mendenhall Bartram, PHS, Philadelphia Flower Show

John and Ann Bartram in their recreated garden at the Philadelphia Flower Show

“My head runs all upon the works of God in nature. It is through that telescope I see God in his glory.”   John Bartram, December 3, 1762

“Since ten years old, I had a great inclination to plants.  I knew all that I observed by sight, though not by the proper names having no person or books to instruct me.”   John Bartram

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Ann Mendenhall Bartram, Sara E. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Technical School

The history of Bartram in his garden was explained by the display constructed by Williamson Technical School at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

It was a glorious day to return to Philadelphia. Members of the senior class of Williamson Technical School unveiled their exhibition on the cultivation, harvesting, packing, and transport of plants and seeds for my Bartram’s Boxes. This major tribute to my seminal work on the distribution of native plant species through the horticultural world was on display at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Ann Mendenhall Bartram, Sara E. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Technical School

John Bartram fronting the Williamson Technical School booth on the historic Bartram’s Boxes.

I greatly enjoyed sitting in the front of the display. Some would say that it is the height of recognition to have a booth at the world famous Philadelphia Flower Show dedicated to one’s life’s work. So noted! The show’s sponsor, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, is an organization founded in 1827 at a meeting “of gentleman farmers, botanists and other plant enthusiasts” that included members of my family. From that simple beginning such a tremendous show has grown.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Ann Mendenhall Bartram, Sara E. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Technical School

The display of seeds introduced by Bartram in his overseas shipments of botanical boxes was encyclopedic.

On exhibit were bags of all of my most favored plant species: Quercus rubra (Red Oak,) Acer rubrum (Red Maple,) Magnolia grandiflora and all of the magnificent understory shrubs. The assortment was greater than any I’d seen collected since days of my youth!

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Ann Mendenhall Bartram, Sara E. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Technical School

All of the samples were displayed in historically authentic context. The boxes would actually have looked like this.

The team of students from Williamson was a collection of scholars, botanists, artists and carpenters that reminded me of me at the same age. They were enthusiastic in their conversation. They were engaged with the topic. They were well turned out.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Ann Mendenhall Bartram, Sara E. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Technical School

There were substantial awards given to the Williamson Technical School Booth on their demonstration of the Bartram’s Boxes.

As a result of their study and their industry, the display was awarded many prestigious prizes. I was very glad for them that their effort received its due recognition. How amazing after all of these years to be confronted with the very image of my house and garden and work rooms and packing stations.

History can and does repeat itself!

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Ann Mendenhall Bartram, Sara E. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Technical School

The major awards for this display on Bartram’s Boxes reflected the student’s dedication and passion to the subject. John Bartram would have been very, very proud!

Travels Through a Green Nation

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Confucius

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance;  one cannot fly into flying.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

My amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown, has scheduled some days apart from me in this winter season.  He is attending to his personal business on many fronts relating to the greening of America.  These days and in this particular season they have gatherings of our clans of fellow gardeners across this vast country of ours.  He loves what he does.  His connections are numerous and his ease on meeting strangers makes good friends of potential enemies.  He plays the fool well but does not easily suffer them.

Kansas City National Green Center

This is a trade show rebranded from the original Western Nursery and Landscape Association

These clannish troupings of our tribal green color bring together all manner of possible combinations:  product endorsements, improvements, plants, equipment (a very mannish, clannish thing indeed!), educational opportunities, recognitions, reconnections, and escape from our everyday existence in an office or nursery or garden.  Kirk was farther afield last week than was in my awareness of time and space.

National Green Center Kansas City

Ball Horticultural put out a colorful display of their new selections

He went to Kansas:  a place over the rainbow and a left turn at the North Star.  Great, green fields awaited his arrival.  Fertile oases of alluvial ground watered by a great river in the center of our continent.  In life’s travels we pass many streams but once.  You must make special note of passing a great watershed.  Kirk retells his experience in Kansas last week as the passing of a great watershed.

Western Landscape and Nursery Association

A trade show floor is full of the products from the world of nature. Evergreen!

This clan was rebranded within a twelve-month period.  It was an ancient root out of the west.  Its lands and nurseries were abundant and strong throughout it 125 plus year history.  As with many old things, changes come sometimes planned, sometimes by choice, and most times by need.  Take my own ancient life as an example!  They needed to view life in a new way.

Western Nursery and Landscape Association

The latest in equipment for garden illumination. How I wish it had been available in my youth!

The new clan is known as “The National Green Center!”  Isn’t that wonderful?  What a unique concept.  They believe themselves to be the center of this country’s green movement.  Isn’t that brazen?  My Darby Meeting would hardly approve, but then we know what they felt about my outrageousness.

Western Nursery and Landscape Association

Color abounded in Kansas City

But this group of wise and far-sighted leaders wished to fly into a new dawn.  Realizing that they had need for wings, they first thought to dance.  The analogy fits like a clogger’s shoe.  It is hard and dynamic–dramatic almost–in its use.  They decided to first refashion the style of production:

They renamed.  They refit.  They colorized.  They developed a sense of Fashion!  They thought to enlist the help of other clans.  They recognized strangers and invited fellow travelers.  They opened the doors in preparedness for the day when the feathers would be dry and flight could be achieved.

Western Nursery and Landscape Association

Networking opportunities were abundant. Michael Dirr confers with Reps from Bailey Nurseries and Ball Horticultural.

I heartily applaud the steps they’ve taken to ensure all of our collective and natural futures.  I congratulate them on their need to be sustainable:  in organization, in fiscal responsibility, and in connection.  With this green botanical nature that courses through all of us, we need to hold close and respect deeply those who choose to do battle with the angry gods of commerce and industry. 

“Ah! Sweet Melissa! There was a fashion show!”

“It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.”  — Alexander McQueen
 
National Green Center
“One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.” Karl Lagerfeld

{Submitted by Kirk R. Brown for J.B. approval.  Kansas City, Kansas.  National Green Center.    http://www.nationalgreencentre.org/index.php }

John!  There was a fashion show.  It’s a natural!  I mean, it’s of nature.  Listen:  the models paraded down a runway with plants.  It was a fashion show of lights, color, and beautiful models–with attitude.  The beautiful people were carrying pots of beautiful new plants.  Why didn’t you ever think of this? 

National Green Center Kansas City KS
“Yes Dorothy, there is a real Miss Kansas!”
 

It was called “The Sweet Melissa Fashion Show” and it introduced 50–FIFTY–new plants to the trade.  That’s one quarter of all of the plants you introduced in your youth!

The experience was exhilarating.  The crowd was raucous.  The bars were open.  The lights were brilliant.  And the runway stretched a green mile.

John Bartram Kirk R. Brown
The runway was crowded with fashionista.

I was just part of the crowd.  I was making notes in the program just like everyone else as the latest hort-couture designs paraded past.  There was a continuous buzz throughout the room.  Exhibitors, attendees, press, and nursery hybridizers hovered around the corridor of bright lights.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas
It was a rainbow collection of new plant introductions. We spent a day in OZ!

Many of the introductions were represented by colorful broadsides illustrating the plant at height of bloom or seasonal color.  Backstage, the fashion collection was lined up waiting for the show to proceed.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas
This fashion line up was waiting for the runway.

Both before and after the show, the runway became a focus of the trade show’s excitement.  People could meet and sit to discuss their business.  The carpet remained a colorful reminder of the show’s sparkle. 

National Green Center
Maria Zampini and Emily Bibens have plantitude on the runway.

I respectfully submit this news release for the pleasure it may provide and the knowledge of new plants it may tease you to investigate.  http://www.nationalgreencentre.org/2012_FashionShow.vp.html 

Kirk R. Brown

National Green Center
The author, Kirk R. Brown, doft a hat to stay tuned with the fashion harmonies.

A Green Industry Summit Council

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

“A plague [on all] your houses!”    with apologies to Mercutio from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Act 3, scene 1

My amanuensis has sent field notes back to me of a meeting of leaders in this botanical industry.  The gathering of minds had an intent to define a way through the shoals of troubled water in which we swim.  There were sharp minds at council tables. 

Two statements of purpose were attached to the gathering of horticultural tribes:

1.  Provide a venue for leaders of the industry’s organizations and associations to share insights regarding the future of the industry and the opportunities and challenges that are likely to emerge as they work to support their members and constituents.

2.  Initiate the first phase of an ongoing dialogue among these leaders to support their efforts to address and capitalize on these opportunities as they explore [what?] they may mean for the future of their organizations.

National Green Center Summit for Industry Leadership

The foolscap newsprint was a image from my youth. These elephant folio sized sheets were the same that Ben Franklin would have used in his print shop.

This was a very heady agenda.  A lot of work was initiated by the brief confederation of horticultural colonies.  It was the first trumpet call to become a United Nation of Green. 

Unlike the First and Second Continental Congresses, there were women present at the heart of this discussion.  Wisdom AND beauty.  Age and the enthusiasm of youth.  Brilliance of mind and those still dazed by the glare from the noonday sun.  And there were writers of well-turned phrases.

National Green Center

Sarah Woody Bibens was in a leadership capacity as Executive Director of the Western Landscape and Nursery Association

The reporter on site took special note of the ease with which the discussions were facilitated.  I greatly respect the scientific method and the processes in place to develop a group dynamic.  Dr. David Renz was the professor in charge.  His degree is recognized and promoted by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, The Henry W. Bloch School of Management, University of Missouri, Kansas City.

National Green Center Industry Leadership Summit

The good Doctor was praised for his professional and efficient staging of the Association Summit.

In the world of my youth, we could have used such well-studied and eminently qualified professionals.  In my youth, I only had the wits with which I was born.  Now we can rest more easily on the taller shoulders of those who write better sentences…or possess more credentials…or speak with louder voices.

As in my day of Quaker Meetings, this group’s consensus was reached after strenuous exercise and posturing.  There was no argument.  There also was no vote.  The congressional leaders concurred to leave the observations in an unedited form.

Notes were taken, collected, and preserved.  I am told that those in attendance wanted to, “build on this session’s info and take it forward.”

The delegates to this congress were urged:  “DON’T WASTE THIS INPUT.”  In future, it might be brought out and viewed through a darkened lens.  But if it is not to be used immediately, how shall it not be wasted?

What proof can be drawn that this meeting occurred?  What sound does a falling tree make if unheard by a passerby?  When does a natural confederation cease to be a group of individuals and become an individual group?

This congress produced a set of Articles of Confederation.  Analysed in their pieces, they have a disparate and almost desperate need to grasp the roots and promote a horticultural revolution.  Again, Ben Franklin was there before us, “for if we don’t hang together, we shall–most assuredly–all hang separately…” 

Truer words were never spoken.  Or written.  We shall see if they are a call to action.

I Allow Others To Publish

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing”  Benjamin Franklin

I choose not to be original this week.  My amanuensis is engaged in a conference at some distance from me.  I would rather that he speaks for himself.  So, I have allowed him to post the following: 

{Submitted by Kirk R. Brown for J.B. approval.  Kansas City, Kansas.  National Green Center.}

GWA Dr. Michael Dirr John Bartram Kirk R. Brown

Dr. Dirr stirred the audience when he appeared at the National Green Center Conference and Trade Show

 

John, you must put this venue on your schedule.  It is imperative that you get to network with the “YOU” of this age.  Michael Dirr represents everything that you would subscribe to in the present world of digital communication.

He met with us at the Garden Writers’ breakfast.  His words were confrontational.  He has seen, and tried, and written, and been, and experienced everything that this industry holds in esteem.  He would be pragmatic and tell us there is no chance for success if he weren’t so passionate about his topic.

There were many of us at breakfast.  We talked a blue streak and impressed everyone with our credentials.  It was a moment of solitary elegy.  As individuals, we can shine in the roomful of self-defined authors.  I love this group!

GWA Breakfast National Green Center Kirk R. Brown

These writers gathered to be acknowledged for the wisdom they bring to the horticultural table. We had a wonderful breakfast.

 

Dr. Dirr has a horticultural glass which may be half empty, but it still brims with the sparkle of choice flowers.  His is a new world of COLOR.  It is loud and clear in his message.  He wants this world to be full of COLOR.

National Green Center Kansas City Kirk R. Brownj

Botticelli was passionate about color and light. This was every bit of his Venus and the Birth of Spring. But she said she didn't come with shells.

 

Dr. Dirr doesn’t believe that we can correct our mistakes or overcome our history of failed attempts.  He does not easily sign on to passing trends and fancies.  It was a day of revelation. 

This is the New Testament Gospel.  We need to recreate who we are.  We need to rewind the image of who we become when we dream.  And we need to change the direction of where we want to go.  He is tired of doing the same thing the same way.  His challenge is to live up to our colorful promise.

It will shortly be spring.  We need to see the light of this spring and take steps to make it different from those other springs of our youth.  The light is still there.  We just need to see it through different glasses.

In the Bleak Midwinter…

In the Bleak Midwinter…

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”   

Christina Rossetti  1872

I welcome yet another new year.  It feels good to shed the old skin and attempt to dress with relish in the tighter-fitting garments that holiday feasting have created.  I look about my world and think of the major events that shape it.  Now is a time that reflection should transition to action.

I will tell you that a Moon Garden is one planted with specimens that bloom only in white or have foliage in grey or mottled with creamy variegation.  It is a garden to be enjoyed in the moonlight.  It is the first of my many garden rooms that I see when approaching my house in the evening.  On All Hallow’s Eve this past year, the Moon Garden, the place of my dreamy reverie, was covered with eight inches of heavy wet snow.  Everything was stressed not the least of which was the owner.  These are my children and they were suffering!

The White Garden Orefield PA 18069

The Moon Garden in a better season. The photograph was taken by a grand and glorious photographer, Karen Bussolini. She is a special friend and fellow communicator of sustainability.

Since the disappearance of that early snow and the steady decline of temperatures into our normal winter cycle, I have been impressed to see how quickly my garden has acclimated itself.  It will be restored to full vigor when it surges back into bloom next spring.  Still, because my thoughts are caught on the bare branches of deciduous trees, I wonder why nature would react so positively to such early abuse.  Why does she continue to rebound for us?
 
In this season, I am actively seeking causes of why our own non-responsive nature doesn’t rebound when confronted with the abuse we heap on the natural world surrounding us.  Do we ever notice when the world cries out for cures to many of its uncurable illnesses?  Our sicknesses range from the common cold to the end of the polar ice caps.  And I think back to those delegates in Philadelphia in the days of my youth when another cantankerous, garrulous independent named John Adams could not hold back his wrath saying, “Piddle, twiddle and resolve.  When will it be done?”

I have been too long away from Philadelphia and its more genteel society to wish any one of them ill, but this should be the season to contemplate change.  Just as John Adams was pushing for the start of a revolution, I am also inclined to encourage revolutionary action.

It is a season to review lists, pay debts, collect outstanding balances that are due, and make resolutions.  These should include attempts to redress oversights and slights, receive inconvenienced or unreconciled relatives, improve one’s personal appearance, manners, station in life, or monetary situation and above all make more time for the things that are most fulfilling.  In short, it should be a time where dreams become reality.

Many of my dreams have come to fruition.  Most often that ripeness and maturity has been at a greater cost than I ever anticipated.  The cost has been in money, lost time, friendships, and pieces of my soul.  As yet another winter is passing, I take stock of my soul and find that it has a strength which for much I my life I thought it lacked.

So it is time to move forward with renewed strength and vigor into the wilds of nature and challenge the prevailing authority with news of change.  Nature will throw off whatever blanket it finds intolerable.  When nature becomes too hot, it will rid itself of even the most clinging garments.

I am on a path of collision with those who would not seek to preserve and protect the environment.  The colors and shades of belief are fast disappearing.  The issues become black and white.  They should be as white and clear as my Moon Garden! 

White Garden John Bartram Kirk R. Brown

Narcissus bloom again in spring in the Moon Garden

Either we choose to welcome a vibrant budding spring or we shall certainly lie exposed in a permanent bleak mid winter.  My choice is to go out and see how my garden is growing!  Blessings on your house and health and prosperity to your person.