Williamson Free School Gardeners and the Quaker Botanical Trade

“I am continually impelled by a restless spirit of curiosity in pursuit of new productions of nature, my chief happiness consists in tracing and admiring the infinite power, majesty, and perfection of the great almighty Creator, and in the contemplation, that through divine aid and permission, I might be instrumental in discovering and introducing into my native country, some original productions of nature, which might become useful to society.”    William Bartram

Williamson Free School, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram, Philadelphia Flower Show

The flag is displayed proudly on the parade ground of Williamson Free School where all classes and categories of students gather each morning for roll.

The landscape and horticulture students at Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades are working on an exhibit demonstrating the complexity of trading in botanical specimens during the 18th century.  Their investigations in the trans Atlantic crossing of seeds, roots, cuttings, divisions and containers will be unveiled to the horticultural public during this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show:  http://www.theflowershow.com/  It will be a brilliant assemblage of English landscape design and American scientific ingenuity.

John Bartram, Philadelphia Flower Show, Kirk R. Brown, Williamson Free School

This miniature model of Independence Hall displays the level of professionalism and horticultural excellence attained by featured exhibits on the show floor.

The senior class, under the tutelage of Chuck Feld, invited me to tour their campus and discourse on the technical challenges of sending the dozens of Bartram’s Boxes that successfully landed on English shores.  Officially, the students attend this school to receive training in programs that award them a degree as an Associate in Specialized Technology.  Also helping the Horticulture, Landscaping and Turf Management class will be the combined efforts of the other programs in Carpentry, Paint and Coatings, Construction Technology and Machine Tool Technology.  http://www.williamson.edu/about/history.htm

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades

John Bartram joins the seniors of the Horticulture, Landscape and Turf class at Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades.

The display will showcase all of the native North American botanicals that I introduced to the world of horticulture through my correspondence with many of the world’s most famous men of letters, science, and industry:  James Logan, Peter Collinson, Philip Miller, Carl Linnaeus, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Catesby, Peter Kalm, Johann Gronovius, and Johann Dillenius.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Philadelphia Flower Show, Williamson Free School

John in a familiar pose of writing to his many horticultural correspondents.

Featured in the exhibit will be rooted seedlings of the Franklinia alatamaha.  This tree, collected on a tour through the swamps of Georgia along the Alatamaha River, was never again found in wild after the early part o the 19th century.  The examples that we now have of it are all descendants of the original copse of trees that my son William and I discovered in 1765.

John Bartram, William Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Franklinia alatamaha

John and William Bartram discovered the unique Franklinia during a collecting trip along the Alatamaha River in Georgia.

The exhibit will educate the masses about the how, why, when, where, and who of the start of international horticulture.  This fine concept will ultimately recognize the amazing vitality and economic incentive given the art and science of botany by those members of the Philadelphia Quaker community.  Please stop by the booth on your trip through this “Brilliant” Philadelphia Flower Show between March 2 and 10.  I will be fronting the booth to welcome all comers during the first weekend of the display.

Williamson Free School, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown Philadelphia Flower Show

The senior carpentry class from Williamson Free School will be constructing the bones of the Philadelphia Flower Show Educational Exhibit

As the spring season opens, more will be said about the specifics of the display and the difficulty of translating a vision of 300 years of international plant search and sharing.

They Planted Trees on the Roof

“I got to Kansas City on a Frid’y.  By Sattidy I larned a thing or two.  For up to then I didn’t have an idy, of whut the modren world was comin’ to! 
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City!  They gone about as fer as they can go.  They went an’ built a skyscraper seven stories high–about as high as a buildin’ orta grow.”   
Will Parker singing about his experiences in the big city from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma.

{Submitted by Kirk R. Brown for J.B. approval.  Kansas City, Missouri.  Kauffman Center http://www.kauffmancenter.org/}

National Green Center

The green roof on the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

John, on the way back home, I had to stop at this new center for the arts in the heart of downtown Kansas City.  It was an amazing end to the journey to OZ and back.  There is a roof on the end of the building that is covered with trees and ornamental grass.  Just look at it!  Amazing technology.  Sustainable and beautiful all at the same time!  And GREEN.

National Green Center

The double shells of the exterior mask the opposing rings of the interior spaces.

The roof had several levels visible from the interior spaces.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas

Multi-level green roof.

At the core of this building are two fabulous performance spaces that allow artists their full range of musical and dramatic expression.  The close end houses the orchestral space.  The magnificent organ and unique pipe installation has yet to be voiced and played.

National Green Center

The Symphony side of the Arts Center is a flexible concert space.

The interior space is wood clad an offers perfect acoustics.  Beautiful organic surfaces.  Pins would drop noisily.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas

These arcs of wood oppose the exterior shells of the building.

The upper shell is home to the Kansas City Opera Company and all of the touring shows requiring a fully functional theatrical road house.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas

The fire curtain was down on the tour.

The interior grand tier is designed to give the audience an impression of being inside a chandelier.  The walls are back-lit crystal panels.  The halls a painted in large fields of color.

National Green Center Kansas City KS

The Circle combines private boxes with grand tier seating.

It was a private tour on a very quick stop.  But I wanted to share with you the amazing sites that are changing the face of the way we look at and treat our landscapes.  This view of nature was supremely artistic.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas

The lobby expands out into the space between the performance venues.

And then on my way to the car in the parking garage, I heard strange music coming from a group of pipes glowing with the changing melodic patterns.  Wow.  This was a grand way to finish up an amazing experience.

National Green Center, Kansas City Kansas
The music and tonal coloration joined the spheres of art and performance.

The trip ended at the drive up from the garage.

National Green Center Kansas City Kansas

The end of the Kansas City experience on the way to the airport.

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.

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.