Pedagogy of the Plants

Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Downy Shrub

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This downy shrub lives on the grounds of a middle school I attended a while back.

Written by Cameron Brooks

December 12, 2010 at 12:14 am

Red Bougainvillea, Bougainvillea glabra

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St Marys, Georgia

Elqui Valley, Chile

This bougainvillea adorned balcony in Santiago’s Barrio Bellavista rests around the corner from “La Chascona,” Pablo Neruda’s home named for his lover and third wife, Matilde Urrutia.  The name means “the uncombed.”

Street art surrounds the curious homes in one of Santiago’s most bohemian enclaves.


In the center of Santiago, some college kids spent an afternoon of their winter break giving away free hugs, or “abrazos gratis.”  In stark contrast to the youthful positivity, the man standing next to his bike was prosthelytizing about brimstone and hellfire, and the second coming of Jesus.

At times it was safer to pull out a handheld recorder, than a bulky camera that could easily get snatched.  Listen to a stroll through the heart of Santiago:


Later, we came across a blind couple and their young daughter singing for change.  The girl sat on the ground between her mother’s legs.  Listen below:

Pink Wood Sorrel, Oxalis crassipes

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Until now, I never associated shamrocks with flowers.

While enjoying a bowl of spicy vegan chili, I unexpectedly caught some live Irish music this afternoon at The Globe.  Around four o’clock, a group of grey haired men lugging instruments began filing in and shuffling furniture, while forming a circle of chairs around a central microphone attached to a small black monitor.  Initially there were seven: two guitars, one accordion, two violins, a mandolin, and a slight woman with a small harp. Luckily, I had my recorder with me, so I sampled their set.  I chose not to edit background noise/conversation, as it was part of the experience.  Listen to the first two songs below.

In the middle of the third song, a woman in a purple hoodie walked in carrying a soft, violet dulcimer case.  A man with a mustache and a violin followed.  Closest to the musicians sat a group of five children under three feet tall.  One fellow in Superman pajamas struggled to get situated in a rocking chair, and as the musicians played, he rocked back and forth to the rhythm. To listen to a couple songs including the dulcimer, click below.


Hibiscus, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

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Questions to a Grasshopper

By Janisse Ray

Grasshopper, do you have a husband

waiting for you at home, under some sumac

roof?  Or a son who yet needs you?

In the grasshopper bank, is your account

low?  Is the Times waiting on an article

that you must squeak up out of your armored

head and from what you have deciphered

with those waving wands?

Is the rent do on your leaf, and do you

have to pay somebody for the water that falls free

from the sky?  To whom do you owe your food?

Are you paying for grasshopper roads and

grasshopper schools and grasshopper hospitals

and grasshopper police and some kind of insect

library filled with wondrous leafy scrolls?

Do you have a president?  Are you asked

to fight, to kill your own?  Must you pay for it?

Or are you free, as you seem, to go

bursting through the stalks of dry grasses,

among strawberry leaves and yarrow,

curious and flippant, without direction,

unwary, obligated to nothing?

California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica

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Written by Cameron Brooks

July 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Mexican Aster, Cosmos bipinnatus

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An elementary school rests in the background.  The kids were on a two week winter break (in July), so I roamed the grounds.

Written by Cameron Brooks

July 23, 2010 at 3:36 am

Thinleaf Sunflower, Helianthus decapetalus

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Written by Cameron Brooks

June 30, 2010 at 1:31 am

Early Blue Violet, Viola palmata

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Written by Cameron Brooks

June 30, 2010 at 12:42 am

Spurred Butterfly Pea, Centrosema virginianum

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Written by Cameron Brooks

June 30, 2010 at 12:23 am

Oxeye Daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum

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Written by Cameron Brooks

June 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Nodding Thistle, Carduus nutans

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Author Matt Hern is the founder of The Purple Thistle Centre in Vancouver, Canada. According to his website, “We run a 2500 sq/ft resource centre that has a ton of supplies, tools, materials, classes and workshops,  and its all free.  There’s a library, bike fixing shop, computer lab, silkscreening room, animation facility and lots else.  And maybe best of all, the whole thing is run by a youth collective that controls all the day-to-day operations and really runs the place.”

Guerilla gardening is also offered at The Purple Thistle Centre.

Written by Cameron Brooks

May 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Devil’s Backbone, Pedilanthus tithymaloides

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Written by Cameron Brooks

May 23, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Cucumber, Cucumis sativus

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This is my first go at cukes, and they are curious.  The vine flowered a sunshine yellow over a month ago, and I’m waiting for green oblongs.  Instead, pokemon-esque footballs connect runners to flowers.

Written by Cameron Brooks

May 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Carrion Plant, Stapelia gigantea

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While writing on the porch last October, I sensed movement behind me.  The twisted tip of a large, light yellow carrion flower pod began to unravel.  I watched as four slits widened a few centimeters at a time.  Over the course of forty-five minutes, it splayed wide open in a ten inch base jump from the shelf.

Within minutes, a large black fly arrived to sample the thick white chunks in the center of a flower that smelled like three-day-old roadkill in late July.

The squatting stink bug delivers the stink eye.

Arugula, Eruca sativa

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This year’s end of the year party was held in the art teacher’s garden.  During a tour I noticed that her arugula was flowering like mine.  She said it’s called “bolting” when greens begin forming flowerets.  After that, they produce significantly fewer leaves.  I’ll eat the flowers before seeding begins.

This afternoon, my neighbor caught me carrying a couple plants I’d sprouted from a pumpkin we carved in class last October.  The middle school math teacher-turned chef-turned college professor-turned retired gardener and world traveler, offered greens from his garden, then gave me a tour and advice for growing greens, fruit trees, tomatoes, herbs, and potatoes.

While watering the garden, a young praying mantis headed for higher ground along the edge of the raised bed against the side of the house.  A large spider took notice and peered down at a rival killer.

I turned for a moment to water the tomatoes, and when I looked back the mantis and spider were gone.

Click the link below for a vegan arugula recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz:

Chickpea Picatta



Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata

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Written by Cameron Brooks

April 27, 2010 at 8:10 pm