One of the flowers capturing my attention in Florence Botanical Garden comes from far Africa.It’s hard to imagine African hill slopes covered with clivias in orange, yellow or red ,it must look like in Eden! The flower was sent to Europe around 1823 and become extremely popular in Victorian England homes and gardens.Many hybrids have been grown up to today,with colors from apricot , orange ,yellow, white and even dark red,the leaves broad or narrow or even in bi-color.Searching internet pages I found thousands of pretty pictures of the flower,but the one I was searching for was missing. Clivia bears her name in honor of Lady Charlotte Florentine Clive, Duchess of Northumberland, an avid plant enthusiast,it was in her garden that Clivia blossomed for the first time in Europe.I was unable to find any picture of this English lady,so here is the picture of her husband,at least.
Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland KG, PC (20 April 1785 – 11 February 1847),from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Percy,_3rd_Duke_of_Northumberland
Not finding anything more about the lady Charlotte Florentine Clive, Duchess of Northumberland (except the fact that she was appointed governess of Princess Victoria, the later Queen Victoria), I had to check who mister Regel was. I’ve found his picture immediately:
Eduard August von Regel (born August 13, 1815 in Gotha, died April 15, 1892 in St. Petersburg) ,from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_August_von_Regel
What a surprise!This guy was garden volunteer at the beginning of his career! Nevertheless, he later served as head of the Old Botanical Garden, Zürich and later as director of the Imperial Botanical Garden,St. Petersburg, Russia. He founded Russian Gardening Society and published 3101 articles in academic journals!
This findings made me less unhappy not finding lady’s portrait, especially as Clivia flower will talk about this woman and botanist Regel forever ,leaving us in wonder whether the two of them would appreciate it…………….
It really was a creative Saturday!After a rainy walk in the garden the workshop started.It was so nice to see kids and seniors working together on their sculptures!Next time these will be painted and an exhibition will be set in the garden glasshouse,so anybody may see what has been done.
Yet there is still something not visible to others,but important even more as these works of art, that emerged from the workshop.Spending their time together, learning and creating together they both, kids and seniors, got time to know each other better ,the stereotypes were lost and they all were happy ,saying they spent great time together……….
It was a rainy morning,some kids betting they don’t remember waking up so early on a Saturday. Nevertheless they all, together with senior volunteers and their teachers took a round walk trough the botanical garden,listening to an extensive lesson about plants in architecture, invasive species,native turtles in the pond and protected flora. Interesting enough that some visitors in the garden asked to join us, and they did!An hour of concentration for all of us, the cat included!Obviously it turned out the cat was concentrated on the duck,but newer mind, this is nature, to! All together (only the cat refused) we continued the lesson with clay-sculpturing workshop-it was fun,learning and sculpting together-but it comes in the next post!
statue from Boboli Garden
Botanical gardens and statues,nature and sculpture-they live one from each other since the first gardens have been set up to nowadays.I decided to use this connection as a concept for the inter generational learning workshop .The idea was to bring together different generations,make them learn together about nature (in botanical garden) and then help them to express new knowledge in art (using clay, learning about sculpture as well).
Preparing the project I was happy enough to meet people who liked the idea.With a lot of coordination, with many ideas exchanged (and some abandoned),with big enthusiasm and with some improvisation, we did it!
Today was the day:early in the morning we all met in the garden.20 kids from gymnasium with two teachers,12 senior sculptors,7 senior garden volunteers,our art professor,some students and some curious garden visitors who joined us to follow the lecture that Mrs.Nina from the garden had prepared for us.It was a rainy morning,but nobody bothered.Did you know that yew was almost extinct in the middle ages in Europe? Why?It’s wood is very elastic and was excellent material to make bows!
After the lecture we all listened to the short introduction into clay sculpturing.And then the work started!And a lot of laughing, learning from each other and helping to each other. Attendants formed smaller groups and each group made one sculpture together.One of the kids was our official photographer-taking pictures all the time,captivating even the professional photographers (from 3 different newspapers ) who came along.
Our statues will be burnt and in May we are meeting together again-to paint our art and to prepare an exhibition in the garden.It will be fun, as some kids-having a quartet of their own offered to give us a concert under the trees at the same time.What to say?Come along-it will be fun (AND learning )!You should believe, for that is exactly what has been said on TV today, where our projet was shown in the prime time!
The only bad news? Guys from TV have borrowed the memory card from my photo, so you will have to wait for the pics till next time ;)
These days I am thrilled finishing the preparatory phase for my first inter generational learning project in botanical garden to happen this Saturday.
2012 is European Year of Inter-generational Solidarity and Active Ageing,for Europe is facing big demographic changes towards society of older people.To sustain such society we will have to change our mindset.Living longer will inevitably rise the need of older people staying active longer,be it in their professional lives or in different fields of their interests, not only for the society will not be reach enough to pay you to be retired 30 years or longer, but also for retirement as known today too often pushes old persons on margins of our society,making them unable to develop their potentials or to contribute to their local community.The only clue to solve this situation is education.Education of older people to recognise, that they are valuable for community and that they are to learn further to stay “on track”.And education of young people and kids against stereotypes about old age, for they will have to live in ageing society. Inter generational learning is a way to make generations learn from each other and to start appreciating each other.
The idea for this project was to cower these mentioned thesis in a innovative way, binding senior garden volunteers,senior sculptors and kids from secondary school on one side, coupling natural sciences and culture on the other side,having a learning workshop and an exhibition for broader audience.The aim? To overcome stereotypes young do have about older people and vice versa, to learn that botany and biodiversity are important issues,to learn that we all need culture-and to spend a day together, in botanical garden, instead of sitting in front of comp or TV at home being alone.
How will it look like?
In the morning we will meet in BG-kids from secondary school with two professors, senior sculptors with their mentor,senior garden volunteers and some professionals from the garden.Together we will have an hour of education about certain plants and their ecosystems.Then we will express this new knowledge in clay and prepare an exhibition in the garden.Hope everything goes well!Promise to post some pictures, but do , please .cross your fingers for the project!
Here are last news about garden volunteers. They are not only working in botanical garden, they are also learning!
Last month garden volunteers learned an old craft-making willow garden obelisks.Gardener from the garden shoved them the materials to be used and then, step by step, the technique of weaving willow.It may look simple, but it is skill ,and you need time to develop proper skill.We had a lot of laughing and we tried hard making something to be at least similar to a decent garden sculpture.And we did it!But the greatest thing about learning this craft was not the sweet feeling of learning something new, but the fact, that volunteers took part in educational workshop in botanical garden next week-helping professional stuff to teach broader public how to make willow garden obelisks! Like the idea that, as good garden obelisk is a strong support for the plants to grow upon it, so the new learned skills are strong support for volunteers to ”grow” knowledge further…….
I am happy indeed, for garden volunteers started to work! It is clear that there will be still a lot of work motivating people to come, but the first ones have already come to the second informational meeting.Among them were even some who have already begun to help in the garden!
It is interesting to hear what their motivation for volunteering in the garden was.They mostly put the desire to help others and community as high as their need to learn more, as they mostly are passionate nature lovers already.Wish to meet other people or to work outdoors and have some recreation was also accentuated.
This group of volunteers is not big, but it is very important-they actually are the very first senior garden volunteers in our city’s botanical garden ever!
P.s.:on the picture is :
Genus Cotoneaster, family Rosacea
mid 18th century: modern Latin, from Latin cotoneum (see quince) + -aster
from : http://oxforddictionaries.com/