i think Danny Boyle agrees with me

Did you see the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics? I really enjoyed the conceptual framework and quirky design aesthetic that Boyle brought to the spectacle. For example, I loved the Marry Poppins umbrellas with the lightbulbs at the tips. And how about the illuminated doves on bikes? I would REALLY love a pair of illuminated dove wings to wear when I ride my bike. BUT my FAVORITE part was the tree at the top of the tor. Here he has millions of pounds to spend and a brilliant imagination and what symbolic element does he choose to anchor the set, draw the eyes of billions, and hold the flags of nations? That’s right, a mound with a tree on top of it! There is a lot of ancient symbolism bound up in the tor/mound/ziggurat and the tree/axis mundi/source of knowledge and I will refrain from lecturing about it here but suffice it to say, I was pleased to see something so humble yet powerful presented as the focus of a multi-million dollar international spectacle.

bouquet

In May, I enthusiastically planted a number of annual flowers from seed thinking that this beginner’s, from scratch, approach would be the way to go to maximize satisfaction with minimal capital investment. There have been some ups and downs. Well, mostly, the squirrels and chipmunks have enjoyed the all-you-can-eat buffet, but I did finally manage to put together a bright and sunny bouquet this morning. It includes two sunflowers and a few cosmos, including the interesting, older, star-like, dried blooms. I couldn’t bring myself to cut the lone surviving zinnia from the bed and the other survivor, a Mexican sunflower, I will write more about in an upcoming post. In the meantime, enjoy!

heat wave

Well, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that it’s hot out there. I do want to share this little gem with you though. I was at a traffic light and happened to catch these two, plopped down under the shade of a cherry tree, enjoying a frozen treat, presumably from the fro-yo shop with the pink and green banner at the right edge of the photograph. What is most interesting about the situation though is that this is on a major, six lane suburban highway. It’s not the kind of place where you generally want to sit and hang out. But clearly these two did want to sit outside and eat in the shade, so they took what they could get. As a designer I’m always inclined to make spaces where people can enjoy a seat and some shade on a hot day, and it’s nice to see people out there who would put them to good use. And they rode their bikes- makes an environmentalist’s heart go pitter patter.

plains farms need trees


Check out this fantastic WPA poster found in the American Memory Collection hosted online by the Library of Congress. Like many people, I’ve always been fond of WPA posters because of their collaboration between quality artistry and common sense practicality. We could use a little more of that these days, don’t you think?

Though I’ve perused the offerings on the LoC website before, this poster was brought to my attention because of a book review for American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow. The review was good and the book, just like the poster, seems right up the Plants Are Not Optional alley.

Back to the poster: don’t miss the great line at the bottom, “Trees Prevent Wind Erosion, Save Moisture, Protect Crops, Contribute to Human Comfort and Happiness.” That’s right folks, trees make you happy!

summer solstice

My cosmos are blooming! I went out to water the garden this evening after a fist-of-the-season, first-day-of-summer blazing hot day, and found that the cosmos I planted from seed in May have begun blooming. I’m quite excited as I tried them last year but planted too late. I like the delicate texture of the leaves and flowers as well as the bright color palette of the mix I bought.

Here at Plants Are Not Optional Headquarters, we are celebrating the Summer Solstice with a Thai shrimp dish that features Thai basil from the garden and a crisp sauvignon blanc.  I hope you are marking this special day in your own way. Cheers!