Canada Slim and the Secret Beauty

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Saturday 2 May 2020 (Lockdown Day #47)

Easter, 1916 is a poem by W. B. Yeats describing the poet’s torn emotions regarding the events of the Easter Rising staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday 24 April 1916.

 

Contextualizing Yeats - Literary Analyses - Medium

The uprising was unsuccessful and most of the Irish republican leaders involved were executed for treason.

The poem was written between May and September 1916, but first published in 1921 in the collection Michael Robartes and the Dancer.

 

Michael Robartes and the Dancer eBook by William Butler Yeats ...

 

Even though a committed nationalist, Yeats usually rejected violence as a means to secure Irish independence, and as a result had strained relations with some of the figures who eventually led the uprising.

 

Easter Proclamation of 1916.png

 

The deaths of these revolutionary figures at the hands of the British, however, was as much a shock to Yeats as it was to ordinary Irish people at the time, who did not expect the events to take such a bad turn so soon.

Yeats was working through his feelings about the revolutionary movement in this poem, and the insistent refrain that “a terrible beauty is born” turned out to be prescient, as the execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising by the British had the opposite effect to that intended.

The killings led to a reinvigoration of the Irish Republican movement rather than its dissipation.

An independent Ireland was a needed and beautiful thing, but it came at a terrible Price.

Because it came at a terrible price, freedom was and remains a precious and beautiful thing worth understanding, worth remembering, worth preserving.

 

Above: William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

 

This idea of beauty emerging out of ugliness, of something positive reborn from something horrific, of a quiet and ceaseless survival regardless of what occurs, sums up somewhat both these days of lockdown in much of Switzerland that is still ongoing, and a visit a few years ago to an oasis where one should not be in the heart of the great metropolis of London.

 

Switzerland to relax coronavirus lockdown for professional and ...

 

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and has since spread globally, resulting in the ongoing 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.

As of 29 April 2020, more than 3.11 million cases have been reported across 185 countries and territories, resulting in more than 217,000 deaths.

More than 932,000 people have recovered.

 

Bern scientists claim coronavirus breakthrough - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

The 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Switzerland on 25 February 2020 when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed following a COVID-19 outbreak in Italy.

A 70-year-old man in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino which borders Italy, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The man had previously visited Milan.

Afterwards, multiple cases related to the Italy clusters were discovered in multiple cantons, including Basel-City, Zürich and Graubünden.

Multiple isolated cases not related to the Italy clusters were also subsequently confirmed.

 

Coronavirus in Switzerland: New cases push total above 370 - The Local

 

On 28 February, the national government, the Federal Council, banned all events with more than 1,000 participants.

 

Coronavirus puts Swiss political system to the test | Financial Times

 

On 16 March, schools and most shops were closed nationwide, and on 20 March, all gatherings of more than five people in public spaces were banned.

 

Coronavirus cases are spreading in Switzerland - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

Additionally, the government gradually imposed restrictions on border crossings and announced economic support measures worth 40 billion Swiss francs.

 

Coronavirus: 56,000 turned away from Swiss border due to lockdown ...

 

As well, the Federal Council announced further measures, and a revised ordinance.

Measures include the closure of bars, shops and other gathering places until 19 April, but leaves open certain essentials, such as grocery shops, pharmacies, (a reduced) public transport and the postal service.

 

New coronavirus: decisions of the federal and cantonal authorities ...

 

The government announced a 42 billion CHF rescue package for the economy, which includes money to replace lost wages for employed and self-employed people, short-term loans to businesses, delay for payments to the government, and support for cultural and sport organizations.

 

New 100 Swiss franc note coming soon

 

On 20 March, the government announced that no lockdown would be implemented, but all events or meetings over five people were prohibited.

Economic activities would continue including construction.

Those measures were prolonged until 26 April 2020.

 

Government warns not to underestimate coronavirus - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

On 16 April 2020, Switzerland announced that the country will ease restrictions in a three-step, gradual way.

The first step will begin on 27 April, for those who work in close contact with others, but not in large numbers.

Surgeons, dentists, day care workers, hairdressers, massage and beauty salons can be opened with safety procedures applied.

DIY stores, garden centres, florists and food shops that also sell other goods can also be opened.

 

Coronavirus lockdown debate highlights Switzerland's cultural and ...

 

The second step will begin on 11 May, assuming the first step is implemented without problems, at which time other shops and schools can be opened.

 

Buying Swiss books comes at a price - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

The third step begin on 8 June with the easing of restrictions on gastronomy, vocational schools, universities, museums, zoos and libraries.

 

Abbey Library St. Gallen, Switzerland (Image is by Candida Hoffer ...

 

Since St. Patrick’s Day 2020, I have been, for the most part, housebound, with no real place to go, no borders to cross, no planes to catch, no books to buy or borrow, no workplace to work at.

 

(My wife has been more fortunate in that she is a medical doctor so her services are not only wanted but crucial.)

 

With nowhere to go, planes are grounded and highways have less traffic than they once did and trains ride the rails half empty.

 

Switzerland cautions against international holidays 'until 2021 ...

 

We are in lockdown because it is believed that we can “flatten the curve” and reduce the numbers of people getting infected by the pandemic.

 

 

People are sick, some are dying or have died, hospitals are full and people have become paranoid about social distancing and germ transmission – the more cases in a canton, the more extreme the caution.

 

First coronavirus death recorded in Switzerland - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

These are dark days and times that try a man’s temperament, but there is an upside to all of this.

The worldwide disruption caused due to the 2019–20 corona virus pandemic has resulted in numerous impacts on the environment and the climate.

The severe decline in planned travel has caused many regions to experience a drop in air pollution.

 

In China, lockdowns and other measures resulted in a 25% reduction in carbon emissions, which one Earth systems scientist estimated may have saved at least 77,000 lives over two months.

 

 

However, the outbreak has also disrupted environmental diplomacy efforts, including causing the postponement of the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and the economic fallout from it is predicted to slow investment in green energy technologies.

 

2020 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP26)

 

Up to 2020, increases in the amount of greenhouse gases produced since the beginning of the industrialization epoch caused average global temperatures on the Earth to rise, causing effects including the melting of glaciers and rising sea levels.

In various forms, human activity caused environmental degradation, an anthropogenic impact.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, measures that were expected to be recommended to health authorities in the case of a pandemic included quarantines and social distancing.

Independently, also prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers argued that reduced economic activity would help decrease global warming, air and marine pollution, allowing the environment to slowly flourish.

Due to the corona virus outbreak’s impact on travel and industry, many regions experienced a drop in air pollution.

Reducing air pollution can reduce both climate change and COVID-19 risks but it is not yet clear which types of air pollution (if any) are common risks to both climate change and COVID-19.

 

Above: Schematic drawing, causes and effects of air pollution: (1) greenhouse effect, (2) particulate contamination, (3) increased UV radiation, (4) acid rain, (5) increased ground-level ozone concentration, (6) increased levels of nitrogen oxides.

 

 

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air reported that methods to contain the spread of the corona virus, such as quarantines and travel bans, resulted in a 25% reduction of carbon emission in China.

In the first month of lockdowns, China produced approximately 200 million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide than the same period in 2019, due to the reduction in air traffic, oil refining, and coal consumption.

As aforementioned, one Earth systems scientist estimated that this reduction may have saved at least 77,000 lives.

About us - Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air

However, Sarah Ladislaw from the Center for Strategic & International Studies argued that reductions in emissions due to economic downturns should not be seen as beneficial, stating that China’s attempts to return to previous rates of growth amidst trade wars and supply chain disruptions in the energy market will worsen its environmental impact.

 

Center for Strategic and International Studies Careers and ...

 

Between 1 January and 11 March 2020, the European Space Agency observed a marked decline in nitrous oxide emissions from cars, power plants and factories in the Po Valley region in northern Italy, coinciding with lockdowns in the region.

European Space Agency logo - World Summit AI Amsterdam

The reduction in motor vehicle traffic has led to a drop in air pollution levels.

NASA and ESA have been monitoring how the nitrogen dioxide gases dropped significantly during the initial Chinese phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic slowdown from the virus drastically dropped pollution levels, especially in cities like Wuhan, China by 25%.

NASA uses a ozone monitoring instrument (OMI) to analyze and observe the ozone layer and pollutants such as NO2, aerosols and others.

This instrument helped NASA to process and interpret the data coming in due to the lockdowns worldwide.

 

NASA insignia - Wikipedia

 

According to NASA scientists, the drop in NO2 pollution began in Wuhan, China and slowly spread to the rest of the world.

The drop was also very drastic because the virus coincided with the same time of year as the lunar year celebrations in China.

For this festival, factories and businesses close for the last week of January to celebrate the lunar year festival.

The drop in NO2 in China did not achieve an air quality of the standard considered acceptable by health authorities.

 

 

Other pollutants in the air such as aerosol emissions remained.

 

In Venice, the water in the canals cleared and experienced greater water flow and visibility of fish.

The Venice mayor’s office clarified that the increase in water clarity was due to the settling of sediment that is disturbed by boat traffic and mentioned the decrease in air pollution along the waterways.

Demand for fish and fish prices have both decreased due to the pandemic,and fishing fleets around the world sit mostly idle.

Rainer Froese has said the fish biomass will increase due to the sharp decline in fishing and projected that in European waters, some fish such as herring could double their biomass.

As of April 2020, signs of aquatic recovery remain mostly anecdotal.

 

COVID-19 Symposium: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Limits of ...

 

Nature is returning, but it took a pandemic to make this terrible beauty possible.

 

A COVID-19 vaccine is a hypothetical vaccine against corona virus disease 2019 (COVID‑19).

Although no vaccine has completed clinical trials, there are multiple attempts in progress to develop such a vaccine.

 

Could the MMR vaccine help protect against coronavirus ...

 

In late February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it did not expect a vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative virus, to become available in less than 18 months.

 

File:World Health Organization Logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

 

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – which is organizing a US $2 billion worldwide fund for rapid investment and development of vaccine candidates – indicated in April that a vaccine may be available under emergency use protocols in less than 12 months or by early 2021.

 

Hans Brattskar on Twitter: "The Coalition for Epidemic ...

 

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease.

A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins.

The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future.

 

 

Vaccines can be prophylactic (to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or “wild” pathogen), or therapeutic (e.g., vaccines against cancer, which are being investigated).

The administration of vaccines is called vaccination.

Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases.

Widespread immunity due to vaccination is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the restriction of diseases such as polio, measles and tetanus from much of the world.

 

SalkatPitt.jpg

Above: Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh where he developed the first polio vaccine

 

The effectiveness of vaccination has been widely studied and verified.

For example, vaccines that have proven effective include the influenza vaccine, the HPV vaccine and the chicken pox vaccine.

 

Above: A child with measles, a vaccine-preventable disease

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that licensed vaccines are currently available for twenty-five different preventable infections.

 

The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Edward Jenner to denote cowpox.

He used it in 1798 in the long title of his Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae Known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against smallpox.

 

Above: Jenner’s handwritten draft of the first vaccination

 

In 1881, to honor Jenner, Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) proposed that the terms should be extended to cover the new protective inoculations then being developed.

 

Louis Pasteur, foto av Paul Nadar, Crisco edit.jpg

 

If (and this is a big IF) I understand the concept of vaccines and vaccinations at all, it is necessary to somehow find microbes that can invade a body, inducing its immune system to fight them by releasing antibodies.

After infection, the immune system “remembers” those microbes and if it encounters them again it quickly produces antibodies to prevent the body from attack.

Vaccination induces immunity artificially by imitating an infection, but without causing illness.

 

 

An essential part of modern medicine, vaccines have been developed against many dangerous infectious diseases.

It was widely known in ancient times that the body develops natural resistance to diseases.

The earliest attempts to induce immunity artificially may date back more than 2,000 years in India, but the idea of vaccination as an established legitimate treatment did not rise to popular consciousness until Edward Jenner.

 

Edward Jenner. Oil painting. Wellcome V0023503.jpg

Above: Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823)

 

Jenner was a successful country physician-surgeon in Berkeley, Southwest England, as well as a talented naturalist.

He had undergone variolation – wherein an infection is rubbed into cuts in the skin of an uninfected person – in his youth, which had made him ill for a time.

 

As a country doctor, Jenner was aware of the common belief that catching cowpox somehow gave protection against smallpox.

Very few milkmaids and cattle herdsmen seemed to suffer from the latter.

In 1798, Jenner published An Enquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae: A Disease Discovered in Some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of the Cow Pox, which described his treatment of 23 patients by first vaccinating them with cowpox material and then giving them smallpox.

He noted that after the cowpox vaccine his patients did not catch smallpox.

 

Above: Jenner’s discovery of the link between cowpox pus and smallpox in humans helped him to create the smallpox vaccine

 

So, in essence, researchers are looking for a similar solution.

They need to discover the source of the original outbreak, develop a variant of the virus and hope that it builds an immunity to the particular corona virus that plagues the planet at present.

This will take a lot of time, effort and money.

 

How many people have been tested for coronavirus in Switzerland ...

 

The smallpox vaccine did not come from herbal remedies or old wives’ recipes of certain food or drink, but from a variation of the disease itself.

But nevertheless it was partially the role of Jenner as naturalist – a man who studies nature – I believe to be beneficial in defeating and eradicating this infamous disease in history.

Smallpox has featured in all of recorded history, killed billions and inflicted lasting suffering on billions more.

By studying nature Jenner became a legend in the field of medicine.

 

Child with Smallpox Bangladesh.jpg

Above: This young girl in Bangladesh was infected with smallpox in 1973.

Freedom from smallpox was declared in Bangladesh in December, 1977 when a WHO International Commission officially certified that smallpox had been eradicated from that country.

 

The ability of viruses to cause devastating epidemics in human societies has led to the concern that viruses could be weaponised for biological warfare.

Further concern was raised by the successful recreation of the infamous 1918 influenza virus in a laboratory.

Smallpox virus devastated numerous societies throughout history before its eradication.

There are only two centres in the world authorised by the WHO to keep stocks of smallpox virus: the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Russia and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

It may be used as a weapon, as the vaccine for smallpox sometimes had severe side-effects, it is no longer used routinely in any country.

 

Thus, much of the modern human population has almost no established resistance to smallpox and would be vulnerable to the virus.

 

 

The corona virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, or talking.

The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than remaining in the air over long distances.

People may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face.

In experimental settings, the virus may survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours.

It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear and in later stages of the disease.

 

Cough/sneeze droplets visualised in dark background using Tyndall scattering

 

In the case of the corona virus, it is suspected that the virus is zoonotic in nature – that it may have travelled from animal to man.

The question then is:

How did the animal that first infected a person itself get infected?

But where did the first animal catch the disease?

 

Above: Possibilities for zoonotic disease transmissions

 

Some scientists speculate that animals catch viruses by eating – perhaps food fouled by other animal feces.

So, an examination of the animals around Wuhan and their diet might give us a better notion of what caused the virus in them and perhaps offer a partial solution towards its prevention.

 

Why wild animals are a key ingredient in China's coronavirus outbreak

 

Imagine a cave of bats and one bat infected one farmer and the farmer took the disease to Wuhan.

Where did the bat catch the virus?

Was only the one bat infected?

If so,why?

Was it something it ate?

 

China bans wildlife trade, consumption because of coronavirus ...

 

It is through the study of both plant and animal life (flora and fauna) that mankind has learned much about medicine as well as the causes and cures of disease.

The profession of apothecary – the formulation and dispensation of drugs to the sick – dates back to at least 2500 BC.

Skilled medics in their own right, apothecaries prepared medical remedies with herbs stored on their own premises.

 

 

We must be careful to distinguish what a virus is.

A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism.

Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.

 

A photograph of the upper body of a man labelled with the names of viruses that infect the different parts

 

Since Dmitri Ivanovsky’s 1892 article describing a non-bacterial pathogen infecting tobacco plants, and the discovery of the tobacco mosaic virus by Martinus Beijerinck (1851 – 1931) in 1898, more than 6,000 virus species have been described in detail, of the millions of types of viruses in the environment.

 

An old, bespectacled man wearing a suit and sitting at a bench by a large window. The bench is covered with small bottles and test tubes. On the wall behind him is a large old-fashioned clock below which are four small enclosed shelves on which sit many neatly labelled bottles.

 

Viruses are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth and are the most numerous type of biological entity.

 

The study of viruses is known as virology, a subspeciality of microbiology.

When infected, a host cell is forced to rapidly produce thousands of identical copies of the original virus.

When not inside an infected cell or in the process of infecting a cell, viruses exist in the form of independent particles, or virions, consisting of:

(i) the genetic material, i.e. long molecules of DNA or RNA that encode the structure of the proteins by which the virus acts

(ii) a protein coat, the capsid, which surrounds and protects the genetic material

and in some cases

(iii) an outside envelope of lipids.

The shapes of these virus particles range from simple helical and icosahedral forms to more complex structures.

Most virus species have virions too small to be seen with an optical microscope as they are one hundredth the size of most bacteria.

 

An electron micrograph of the virus that caused Spanish influenza

Above: Transmission electron microscope image of a recreated 1918 influenza virus

This negative stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) showed recreated 1918 influenza virions that were collected from the supernatant of a 1918-infected Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell culture 18 hours after infection.

In order to sequester these virions, the MDCK cells were spun down (centrifugation), and the 1918 virus present in the fluid was immediately fixed for negative staining.

Dr. Terrence Tumpey, one of the organization’s staff microbiologists and a member of the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), recreated the 1918 influenza virus in order to identify the characteristics that made this organism such a deadly pathogen.

Research efforts such as this enables researchers to develop new vaccines and treatments for future pandemic influenza viruses.

 

Flu Fighter: Terrence Tumpey, Ph.D. | Pandemic Influenza (Flu) | CDC

 

The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus, killing more than 500,000 people in the United States and up to 50 million worldwide.

The possible source was a newly emerged virus from a swine or an avian host of a mutated H1N1 virus.

Many people died within the first few days after infection and others died of complications later.

Nearly half of those who died were young, healthy adults.

 

Coronavirus: What can we learn from the Spanish flu? - BBC Future

 

Influenza A (H1N1) viruses still circulate today after being introduced again into the human population in the 1970s.

 

 

The origins of viruses in the evolutionary history of life are unclear:

Some may have evolved from plasmids—pieces of DNA that can move between cells—while others may have evolved from bacteria.

 

Plasmid - Wikipedia

 

In evolution, viruses are an important means of horizontal gene transfer, which increases genetic diversity in a way analogous to sexual reproduction.

 

Viruses are considered by some biologists to be a life form, because they carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve through natural selection, although they lack key characteristics (such as cell structure) that are generally considered necessary to count as life.

Because they possess some but not all such qualities, viruses have been described as “organisms at the edge of life” and as replicators.

 

Coronavirus : le virus aurait muté en une version plus agressive ...

 

Viruses are the most abundant biological entity in aquatic environments. 

There are about ten million of them in a teaspoon of seawater.

 

Most Life is Microbial Heading – Bacteria, Image 1 – Bacteria ...

 

The corona virus is described as novel, because we ain’t seen nothing like it before.

 

And Now For Something Completely Different | Monty python, Monty ...

 

Viruses spread in many ways.

 

One transmission pathway is through disease-bearing organisms known as vectors:

For example, viruses are often transmitted from plant to plant by insects that feed on plant sap, such as aphids.

 

What Are Aphids | Aphid Insect Facts, Habitat & Control Options

 

Viruses in animals can be carried by blood-sucking insects.

 

Heavy rains put Kenya at risk of mosquito-borne diseases

 

Influenza viruses (which the corona virus is) are spread by coughing and sneezing.

 

Germs from coughs and sneezes travel far | Health Calling

 

Norovirus and rotavirus, common causes of viral Gastroenteritis (stomach flu), are transmitted by the faecal–oral route, passed by contact and entering the body in food or water.

 

Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo ...

 

HIV is one of several viruses transmitted through sexual contact and by exposure to infected blood.

 

What Are HIV and AIDS? | HIV.gov

 

The variety of host cells that a virus can infect is called its “host range“.

 

This means a virus is capable of infecting a few species or many.

 

Viral infections in animals provoke an immune response that usually eliminates the infecting virus.

 

Swiss start-ups hope to slow climate change with cow burps - SWI ...

 

Immune responses can also be produced by vaccines, which confer an artificially acquired immunity to the specific viral infection.

 

Understanding immunisation and why a Covid-19 vaccine is no magic ...

 

Some viruses, including those that cause AIDS, HPV infection, and viral hepatitis, evade these immune responses and result in chronic infections.

Several antiviral drugs have been developed.

 

Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used for treating viral infections.

Most antivirals target specific viruses, while a broad-spectrum antiviral is effective against a wide range of viruses.

Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen.

Instead they inhibit their development.

 

New uses for existing antiviral drugs - European Pharmaceutical Review

 

Antiviral drugs are one class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antibiotic (also termed antibacterial), antifungal and antiparasitic drugs, or antiviral drugs based on monoclonal antibodies (aka the Jenner method).

Most antivirals are considered relatively harmless to the host, and therefore can be used to treat infections.

 

antiviral drugs - Ultima

 

They should be distinguished from viricides, which are not medication, but deactivate or destroy virus particles, either inside or outside the body.

Natural viricides are produced by some plants, such as eucalyptus and Australian tea trees.

 

The Australian Eucalyptus tree is one of the fastest growing trees ...

 

So, as important as it is to find – and find it fast – a vaccine to combat this virus using the virus against itself, I think it is also a good idea – afterwards or concurrently – if greater study of plant life is done to prevent and treat viruses of this and other types.

 

What if we could identify infected plants?

What if we could find plants that help fight viruses along with vaccines?

 

Let me frank.

I am no botanist, chemist, or any type of scientist, no farmer or even florist.

 

Amazon.com: Adult Dunce Cap: Clothing

 

For me, generally a plant is edible or inedible, functional or decorative.

I eat fruit and vegetables.

I eat animals that eat fruit and vegetables.

I see trees and lawns and flowerpots from my window.

I see wildflowers and farmers fields and orchards during my daily walks.

 

Image may contain: 1 person

 

When florists resume business I shall occasionally buy my wife a floral arrangement, either as a curative against some stupidity I have done or as a preventative to avoid drama during an emotional time in her life.

I do this for myself as much as for her!

 

Selbstständig machen als Florist: so eröffnest du deinen ...

 

It would be a lie to suggest that I give flora the full attention, respect and praise that it is due.

But for one moment on one vacation when my wife brought me to London to play tourist while she mostly attended a medical conference, I began to consider an amazing universe I had previously ignored.

 

Welcome to London - visitlondon.com

 

London, England, Thursday 26 October 2017

The world continued to circle the sun and men do what men do wherever they may be found.

 

Why the Earth Rotates Around the Sun

 

While my wife was attending her medical conference and I was exploring the city on my own…..

 

Medical Review Schools Conference - IRXP - Middle-East & Asia ...

 

Meanwhile:

  • Twitter banned all ads from Russian news agencies RT and Sputnik, based on US intelligence’s conclusion that both attempted to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election on behalf of the Russian government.

 

Twitter Logo Vector (.EPS) Free Download

 

  • An explosion in a fireworks plant, located west of the Indonesian capital Jakarta killed at least 47 and injured 35.

 

Indonesian Fireworks Factory Explosion Kills Dozens - The New York ...

 

  • Four people (three military conscripts and a train passenger) were killed and four conscripts injured after a passenger train collided with an off-road military truck in Raseborg, Finland.

 

4 Killed After Train Crash in Finland - Novinite.com - Sofia News ...

 

  • A Russian Mi-8 helicopter crashed into the sea off Svalbard with eight people reported missing.

 

Russian chopper raised from Norwegian isle on Arctic seabed | News ...

 

 

  • At least two Catalan officials defected from the ruling Junta pel Si party as Catalan President Carles Puigdemont cancelled a speech regarding snap elections and planned to draw back from declaring independence from Spain.

 

Estelada - Wikipedia

 

  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte presented his 3rd cabinet, which took a record of 225 days of negotiations to form the government composed of VVD, D66, CDA and CU parties.

 

Flag of the Netherlands - Wikipedia

 

  • The Trump Administration’s Department of Justice settled two lawsuits which alleged that the Obama Administration’s Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups.

 

Need Tax Help? IRS Has an Online Help Desk | CPA Practice Advisor

 

  • Nearly 3,000 files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 were released, while US President Donald Trump ordered others to be withheld citing national security concerns.

 

JFK documents could show the truth about a diplomat's death 47 ...

 

  • Voters to Kenya went to the polls following the annulment of the results in the Kenyan general election – President Uhuru Kenyatta won with a 98% majority following an opposition boycott.

 

Flag of Kenya - Wikipedia

 

  • Venezuela’s democratic opposition won the Sakharov Prize, the European Union’s top human rights award.

 

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

 

I search for simple pleasures for the simple man that I am.

 

I find myself in the London neighbourhood of Chelsea and I find it hard to imagine that until the 16th century Chelsea was nothing more than a tiny fishing village on the banks of the Thames centred around Chelsea Old Church.

 

Multi-coloured street of houses in Chelsea, London - The Owners Forum

 

It was royal advisor Thomas More (1478 – 1535) who started the upward trend by moving here in 1520, followed by members of the nobility, including King Henry VIII himself.

 

St. Thomas More: A man for all seasons | Faith Magazine

 

In the 18th century, Chelsea acquired its riverside houses along Cheyne Walk, which gradually attracted a posse of literary and intellectual types.

However, it was not until the late 19th century that the area began to earn its reputation as London’s very own Left Bank.

 

Cheyne Walk, Chelsea: A Literary Walk – Crumbs of Rain

 

In the 1960s, Chelsea was at the forefront of “swinging London“, with the likes of David Bailey, Mick Jagger, George Best and the “Chelsea Set” hanging out in the boutiques and coffee bars.

 

What Was Swinging London? Mods, Miniskirts & Music In '60s England

 

Later, King’s Road became a catwalk for hippies and in the late 1970s it was the unlikely epicentre of the punk explosion.

London Punk Tapes by Actar Publishers - issuu

Men wearing red trousers is about as countercultural as it gets in Chelsea nowadays, with franchise fashion rather than cutting edge couture the order of the day, though some of its residents like to think of themselves as a cut above the purely moneyed types of Kensington.

 

Red men's trousers: The scarlet trousers that have been branded a ...

 

That said, King’s Road remains one of the better, more interesting shopping streets outside the West End and is well stocked with restaurants, while at its eastern end are two champions of contemporary and undiscovered art and theatre, the Saatchi Gallery and Royal Court Theatre respectively.

 

King's Road – Wikipedia

 

The area’s other aspects, oddly enough considering its reputation, is a military one, with the former Chelsea Barracks, the Royal Hospital and the National Army Museum.

 

Chelsea Barracks Opens to the Public for the First Time in 150 ...

 

And so, it is the litterati and artists, musicians and the military that grab the gaze of most London visitors.

Here in Chelsea the visitor can find:

  • the Royal Court Theatre, a bastion of new theatre writing since John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger sent tremors through the Establishment in 1956.

 

The Royal Court Theatre Recipient of 50/50 Applause Award for ...

 

  • the Peter Jones department store, London’s finest glass curtain building

 

Peter Jones (department store) - Wikipedia

 

  • Holy Trinity, the finest arts and crafts church in London.

 

Holy Trinity, Sloane Street - Wikiwand

 

  • Saatchi Gallery, with changing exhibitions of contemporary art, much of it by largely unknown young artists, in 15 equally proportioned, whitewashed rooms.

 

Saatchi Gallery

 

  • Number 30 Wellington Square, the fictional address of a comfortable ground floor flat of one “Bond, James Bond“.

 

Bond, James Bond, 30 Wellington Square | London apartment, London ...

 

  • World’s End, once upon a time 1970s Let It Rock renamed SEX and then renamed again Seditionaries,  with its landmark backwards running clock, continues to offer the eclectic to the eccentric.

 

The World's End Pub. King's Road, Chelsea, | London places, London

 

  • Royal Hospital Chelsea is so odd that it fits perfectly within Chelsea, for here:

Book of Remembrance | Royal Hospital Chelsea

    • Scarlet and navy blue army veterans (the Chelsea Pensioners) parade up and down King’s Road

Datei:Chelsea-pensioners.jpg – Wikipedia

 

      • (And on 29 May – wearing tricorn hats and carrying a gilded statue of Charles I festooned with oak leaves –  commemorate the day after the disastrous 1651 Battle of Worchester, when the future King hid in an oak tree to escape his pursuers)

 

Four Chelsea Pensioners die from coronavirus at British Army ...

 

(1 May 2020: Sadly, four Pensioners have died from the corona virus pandemic.)

 

    • Here one finds a fresco in the hospital chapel of Jesus patriotically bearing the flag of St. George, the standard of England

 

The Chapel, The Royal Hospital, Chelsea | The painting of th… | Flickr

 

    • Here in the hospital’s Ranelagh Gardens (once called “London’s pleasure gardens“) is held the world’s finest horticultural event, the Chelsea Flower Show, with over 150,000 visitors over two days.

 

Climate solutions blooming at Chelsea Flower Show

 

(1 May 2020: Both the Pensioners’ Parade and the Flower Show will not happen this year of the Pandemic.)

 

  • Cheyne (pronounced “chainy“) Walk boasts the most blue plaques in a single street, for here lived:

Cheyne Walk - Wikiwand

 

    • Novelist Henry James (#21)(1843 – 1916)

 

Henry James (Author of The Turn of the Screw)

 

    • Novelist Mary Ann Evans (better known by her penname “George Eliot“)(1819 – 1880)(#4)

 

25 Inspiring George Eliot Quotes That Hold Precious Bits of Life ...

 

    • Poet / playwright Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)(#1 and #34)

 

Detektiv findet gestohlenen Ring von Oscar Wilde - TOP ONLINE

 

    • Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958)(#13)

 

Ralph Vaughan Williams | British composer | Britannica

 

    • Rolling Stone Mick Jagger (#48)

 

Mick Jagger - Wikipedia

 

    • Rolling Stone Keith Richards (#3)

 

Keith Richards – Wikipedia

 

    • Painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903)(#96)

 

James Abbott McNeill Whistler | HiSoUR Kunst Kultur Ausstellung

 

    • Engineer Marc Isambard Brunel (1769 – 1849) and his son, engineer Isambard  Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859)(#99)

 

Sir Marc Brunel - New Insights | Visit Bristol's No.1 Attraction ...

Above: Marc Isambard Brunel

 

Late great engineers: Isambard Kingdom Brunel | The Engineer The ...

Above: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

 

    • Painter J.M.W. (Joseph Mallord William) Turner (1775 – 1851)(#119)

 

J. M. W. Turner - Wikipedia

 

    • Historian Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881)(#24)

 

Thomas Carlyle biography, quotes, publications and books | toolshero

 

(Caryle’s House is a museum today.)

 

Carlyle's House, Chelsea | Historic London Guide

 

  • Chelsea Old Church, where one finds a garish gilded statue of Thomas More (“Scholar, Statesman, Saint“), Lady Cheyne’s memorial and More’s first wife’s (Jane Colt) memorial.

 

Chelsea Old Church - A London Inheritance

 

Statue of Thomas More outside Chelsea Old Church - Picture of ...

 

File:Chelsea Old Church, Lady Cheyne monument Raggi sculpture.jpg ...

 

Chelsea Old Church - 'Discovering Tudor London', by Natalie ...

 

  • Crosby Hall, once owned by More and once occupied by the future King Richard III (1452 – 1485)(and used as a setting by William Shakespeare) is now privately owned but visible from Cheyne Walk.

 

Crosby Hall: Private Collection Visit | Event | Royal Academy of Arts

 

Richard III | Biography & Facts | Britannica

Above: King Richard III (1452 – 1485)

 

  • Nearby Brompton Cemetery, close to the Chelsea Football Club, here one can find the graves of:

 

    • Frederick Richards Leyland (1831 – 1892)(president of the National Telephone Company)(His final resting place resembles a bizarre copper green jewel box on stilts, smothered with swirling wrought ironwork)

 

Frederick Richards Leyland - Wikipedia

 

Frederick Leyland's grave | Brompton Cemetery | July 2018-… | Flickr

 

    • Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst (1831 – 1892)

The Pankhurst Anthem: Song written for women's vote centenary ...

Emmeline Pankhurst - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

    • Henry Cole (1808 – 1882)(the man behind the Great Exhibition and the V & A Museum / inventor of the first commercial Christmas card)

 

File:Henry Cole, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-84.jpg ...

 

The History of the Christmas Card | History | Smithsonian Magazine

 

Sir Henry Cole - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

    • Fanny Brawne (1800 – 1865)(the love of poet John Keats’ life)

 

Fanny Brawne - Wikiwand

 

Fanny Brawne's grave at Brompton Cemetery – Keats Locations

 

    • John Snow (1813 – 1858)(Queen Victoria’s anaesthetist)

 

John Snow :: About John Snow

 

Dr John Snow - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

    • And the now empty gravesite of Long Wolf (1843 – 1923)(a Sioux Indian chief who died in London while on tour with Buffalo Bill Cody’s travelling Wild West Show)(The Chief’s body has since been returned to his descendants in America.).

 

Chief Long Wolf - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

Chief Long Wolf - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

  • By Putney Bridge, Fulham Palace, once the largest moated site in all of England, (sadly the moat was filled in in 1921) was the residence of the Bishop of London from 704 to 1973 and features a museum containing a mummified rat, as well as a garden with a maze made of miniature box hedges.

 

Fulham Palace £70,000 away from completing restoration funding | LBHF

 

I will say no more of these things, for I know no more of these things having not seen them myself.

What I have seen and thus the subject of this post was a botanical bounty near the banks of the Thames, the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Horticulturalists and herbalists will delight in this enchanting walled garden containing around 5,000 plant species from all over the world.

It is a rather small garden and a little too close to the Chelsea Embankment to be a peaceful oasis, but it is enjoyable nonetheless even for those uninterested in botany.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden – Wikipedia

 

Plants are everywhere.

They live in almost every surface on Earth, from the highest mountains to the lowest valleys, from the coldest and driest environments to some of the hottest and wettest places on our planet.

Nobody knows for certain how many species of plants there actually are.

So far, scientists have counted about 425,000, but more are being discovered every day.

There are clear patterns as to where on Earth plants thrive best and the conditions they need.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Garten - visitlondon.com

 

Understanding these patterns is crucial to preserving all forms of life on Earth, including us.

 

Our partner gardens | Chelsea Physic Garden

 

Because without plants there would be no humans.

 

Plants can survive without humans but... - Seedlings for SALE ...

 

Plants create and regulate the air we breathe.

They provide us with food, medicines, textiles to make our clothes and materials to build our homes.

 

February

 

So how did the Earth reach the diversity and variety of plant life we see today?

What did the first plants look like?

What are the biggest, smallest, weirdiest and smelliest plants on the planet?

 

Earth Overshoot Day 2019 is July 29 - Environment - Trends ...

 

Wander through the Chelsea Physic Garden and all will be revealed!

 

Chelsea Physic Garden (next time). | London garden, Beautiful ...

 

The Garden’s collection was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries to study the medicinal properties of plants and was jealously guarded until 1983 it became a registered charity and was opened to the general public for the first time.

It is the oldest botanical garden in the country after Oxford’s and Edinburgh’s.

The Garden is a member of the London Museums of Health and Medicine and is listed in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England by English Heritage.

English Heritage Trust, The | Charities | Law Gazette

The first cedars grown in England were planted here in 1683.

 

The oldest cedar tree in Lebanon: about 3000 years old. | Lebanon ...

 

Cotton seed was sent from here to the American colonies in 1732.

 

Top End and Ord Valley cotton strengthens as national production ...

 

England’s first rock garden was constructed here in 1773.

 

The Pond Rockery at Chelsea Physic Garden - YouTube

 

Britain’s oldest and largest olive tree is here, protected by the Garden’s heat-trapping high brick walls, along with what is probably the world’s northernmost grapefruit growing outdoors.

 

File:The Olive tree at Chelses Physic Garden.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Chelsea Physic Garden Grapefruit

 

This extraordinary place has had a wide-reaching impact around the world, becoming at its peak, during the 1700s, the most important centre for plant exchange on the planet.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Wikipedia

 

The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries initially founded the Garden on a leased site of Sir John Danvers’ well-established garden in Chelsea, London.

This house, called Danvers House, adjoined the Mansion that had once been the house of Sir Thomas More.

Danvers House was pulled down in 1696 to make room for Danvers Street.

The site was chosen for its proximity to the river, which at the time was the most important transport route in London and allowed the Apothecaries to moor their barge and carry out botanising expeditions to surrounding areas.

The site also offered a south-facing aspect and well-managed soil, having been within an area of market gardens.

 

CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDEN, Kensington and Chelsea - 1000147 | Historic ...

 

 

The Apothecaries appointed John Watts as their first Curator in 1680 and charged him with growing and maintaining the recognized medicinal herbs of the day.

During Watts’ stewardship the first greenhouse appeared in the Garden, which was heated with an external stove and glazed on one side.

As the first greenhouse of this kind in England, it allowed the Garden to grow hitherto unknown rare tropical and tender species.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Chelsea garden, Garden layout vegetable ...

 

That same year a young apprentice from Ireland named Hans Sloane began his studies at the Garden.

Little did the Apothecaries know that Sloane would one day become responsible for ensuring the Garden’s survival to this day.

 

Sir Hans Sloane. Mezzotint by J. Faber, junior, 1729, after Wellcome V0005466.jpg

Above: Hans Sloane (1660 – 1753)

 

After qualifying in 1687 Sloane travelled to Jamaica to serve as private physician to the second Duke of Albemarle.

 

 

Two years later, Sloane returned to London armed with a special recipe and bottles of a compound, sourced from plants, which would go on to make him a fortune.

The recipe was for milk chocolate – a drink he had seen Jamaican mothers give to children with colic – and the compound, sourced from the tropical tree Cinchona pubescens, quinine – a medicine capable of preventing and curing malaria.

Sloane quickly established himself back in London, making considerable sums from his chocolate recipe (cocoa with milk) and sales of quinine.

 

 

Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort (1630 – 1715) (also known by her other married name of Mary Seymour, Lady Beauchamp and her maiden name Mary Capell) was an English noblewoman, gardener and botanist.

 

Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort (1630–1715) - Wikipedia

 

On 28 June 1648, Mary married her first husband Henry Seymour, Lord Beauchamp, and they had one son and one daughter.

Her husband was a Royalist, imprisoned during the English Civil War.

 

The Origins & Causes of the English Civil War

 

Her second husband, whom she married on 17 August 1657 was Henry Somerset (1629 – 1700), who became 1st Duke of Beaufort, by whom she had six children.

 

Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort - Wikipedia

 

During the Popish Plot, she was required in her husband’s absence to call out the militia, to deal with a false alarm of a French invasion at the Isle of Purbeck, and did so “in a state of deadly fear“.

 

Country diary: Isle of Purbeck | Environment | The Guardian

 

(The Popish Plot was a conspiracy invented by Titus Oates that between 1678 and 1681 gripped the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in anti-Catholic hysteria.

 

Titus Oates - Wikipedia

Above. Titus Oates (1649 – 1705)

 

Oates alleged that there was an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate King Charles II, accusations that led to the executions of at least 22 men and precipitated the Exclusion Bill (which sought to exclude the King’s brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland because he was Roman Catholic) Crisis.

Eventually Oates’s intricate web of accusations fell apart, leading to his arrest and conviction for perjury.)

 

Charles II of England - Wikipedia

Above: King Charles II (1630 – 1685)

 

The supposed invasion, like much that happened (or failed to happen) during the Plot, was simply the result of public hysteria.

Despite this moment of panic, in general she maintained a detached and rational attitude to the Plot, expressing her amazement that the informer William Bedloe (1650 – 1680), whom she knew to be “a villain whose word would not have been taken at sixpence“, should now have “power to ruin any man“.

 

Popish Plot Playcard1.jpg

 

She attended the trial of the Catholic barrister Richard Langhorne, presumably in case Bedloe, a bitter enemy of her husband, made any charges against him, and took notes of the evidence.

 

Above: Richard Langhorne (1624 – 1679)

 

When Bedloe protested at her presence, the Lord Chief Justice, William Scroggs, pointed out that the trial was open to the public, and asked irritably what a woman’s notes amounted to anyway:

No more than her tongue, truly“.

 

Above: William Scroggs (1623 – 1683)

 

Mary was a notoriously exacting employer “striking terror in the hearts of her servants“:

Every day she would do a tour of the house and grounds (Beaufort House), and any servant not found hard at work was instantly dismissed.

Even neighbouring landowners held her in awe, and were anxious not to cross her.

 

Chelsea Brasserie and Bar | Beaufort House Chelsea

Above: Beaufort House, Chelsea, today

 

The Duchess of Beaufort was one of Britain’s earliest distinguished lady gardeners.

She began seriously to collect plants in the 1690s and her interest in gardening intensified in her widowhood.

She had the assistance of such well-known gardeners and botanists as George London (1640 – 1714) and Leonard Plukenet (1641 – 1706).

 

 

Seeds came to her from the West Indies, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, China and Japan.

 

In 1702, she engaged the services of William Sherard (1659 – 1728) as tutor for her grandson, “he loving my diversion so well“.

Sherard helped introduce more than 1,500 plants, most of them greenhouse subjects, to her collection, at Badminton House or at Beaufort House, Chelsea.

 

Badminton House | Englische herrenhäuser, Englische landhäuser und ...

 

Sir Robert Southwell, Sir Hans Sloane and Jacob Bobart are all known to have sought her assistance in growing and identifying plants from unidentified seeds, some of which had come to them through the Royal Society of London.

 

The Royal Society Coat of Arms.svg

 

In 1712, Dr. Hans Sloane, as wealthy physician, purchased the entire Manor of Chelsea.

 

Chelsea Manor, for which the borough of Chelsea, London, is named ...

 

Mary’s London house was next to that of Sir Hans Sloane, making her a neighbour of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Her herbarium, in twelve volumes, ‘gathered and dried by order of Mary Duchess of Beaufort‘, she bequeathed to Sir Hans Sloane, by whose bequest it came to the Natural History Museum.

Her two-volume set of drawings of her most choice exotics remains in the library at Badminton.

Among her introductions to British gardening, most of which were greenhouse plants, are Pelargonium zonale one of the parents of the zonal pelargoniums of gardens, ageratum and the Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea).

She is also notable for being one of the earliest women known to have her own collection of the Philosophical Transactions, the journal of the Royal Society of London.

 

Passiflora caerulea (2019-06-24) frontal-view.jpg

 

In 1722, Sloane leased four acres (1.6 hectares) of land to the Apothecaries for five pounds a year in perpetuity – a bargain even back then.

The deed of covenant is on display, stating the Garden’s purpose, that “apprentices and others may the better distinguish good and useful plants from those that bear resemblance to them and yet are hurtful“.

He also required the Apothecaries to provide 50 pressed plant specimens a year to the Royal Society until 2,000 had been received.

This process continued for many years under the direction of Head Gardeners or Curators and quickly exceeded the numbers required by Sloane.

A statue of Sloane stands at the centre of the garden.

 

Fig: Statue of Sir Hans Sloane by John Michael Rysbach in the ...

 

Notable among the annual consignments were those sent in 1724, which contained 50 species from the Geraniaceae family (geraniums) – the first record of the Garden’s long association with these plants.

 

Geranium February 2008-1.jpg

 

James Sherard (1666 – 1738) was an English apothecary, botanist and amateur musician.

On 7 February 1682, apothecary Charles Watts, who served as curator of Chelsea Physic Garden, took him in as an apprentice.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden (London) - Aktuelle 2020 - Lohnt es sich ...

 

After honing his craft with Watts, Sherard moved to Mark Lane, London, where he started his own very successful business.

 

Mark Lane, London - Wikipedia

 

In time, Sherard came into contact with Wriothesley Russell, 2nd Duke of Bedford through his brother, who had once served as a tutor in Russell’s family.

Sherard dedicated his first set of trio sonatas to Russell.

One surviving copy of the work was owned by an apothecary named William Salter.

He wrote commentary in the margins, including a note that Sherard was friends with George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759).

 

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner.jpg

 

Sherard published a second set of trio sonatas in 1711.

Sherard’s extensive collection of manuscripts of vocal and instrumental music is preserved in the Bodleian Library (Oxford) and includes unique copies of German church music among other items.

 

Bodleian Library | History of the Bodleian

 

In 1711, around the time Sherard finished composing his second set of sonatas, the Duke died, and Sherard’s interest in music seems to have died with him.

He also fell ill with gout, which prevented him from playing the violin.

 

Franz Hoffmann Amadeus Violin Outfit 1/4 Size | SHAR Music ...

 

Instead, he turned to botany.

He wrote in August 1716 that “of late the love of botany has so far prevailed as to divert my mind from things I formerly thought more material“.

 

Upon retiring from his business in Mark Lane in the 1720s, he had already acquired an ample fortune.

He purchased two manors in Leicestershire and a property at Eltham in Kent, near London, where he largely resided.

Sherard soon found himself maintaining a growing collection of rare plants at Eltham.

 

Above: Eltham Palace

 

Despite his ill health, he made several trips to continental Europe in search of seeds for his garden, which soon became recognized as one of the finest in England.

 

In 1721, in order to help with a projected revision of Caspar Bauhin’s Pinax of 1623, William Sherard brought the German botanist Johann Jacob Dillenius (1684 – 1747) to England.

In 1732, James published Dillenius’ illustrated catalog of the collection at Eltham.

According to Blanche Henrey, it was “the most important book to be published in England during the 18th century on plants growing in a private garden” and a major work for the pre-Linnaean taxonomy of South African plants, notably the succulents of the Cape Province.

Dillenius’ herbarium specimens from Eltham are preserved in the herbarium of the Oxford Botanical Garden.

 

Johann Jakob Dillenius.jpg

Above: Johann Jacob Dillenius

 

Samuel Doody (1656–1706) was an early English botanist.

The eldest of the second family of his father, John Doody, an apothecary in Staffordshire who later moved to London where he had a shop in The Strand, Samuel was born in Staffordshire.

He went into his father’s business, to which he succeeded in 1696.

 

Strand, London WC2 - geograph.org.uk - 752450.jpg

 

He undertook the care of the Apothecaries’ Garden at Chelsea in 1693, at a salary of £100, which he continued until his death.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden (next time). | London garden, Beautiful ...

 

His sole contribution as an author seems to be a paper in the Philosophical Transactions (1697), on a case of dropsy (fluid retention / swelling) in the breast.

 

Doody had given some attention to botany before 1687, the date of a commonplace book, but his help is first acknowledged by John Ray in 1688 in the second volume of the Historia Plantarum.

 

(John Ray (1627 – 1705) was an English naturalist widely regarded as one of the earliest of the English parson-naturalists.

He published important works on botany, zoology and natural theology.

His classification of plants in his Historia Plantarum, was an important step towards modern taxonomy.

Ray rejected the system of dichotomous division by which species were classified according to a pre-conceived, either/or type system, and instead classified plants according to similarities and differences that emerged from observation.

He was among the first to attempt a biological definition for the concept of species.)

 

John Ray – Wikipedia

Above: John Ray

 

Doody was intimate with the botanists of his time: Ray, Leonard Plukenet, James Petiver (1665 – 1718) and Hans Sloane.

Doody devoted himself to cryptogams – (A cryptogam – scientific name Cryptogamae – is a plant (in the wide sense of the word) that reproduces by spores, without flowers or seeds. “Cryptogamae” (Greek: “hidden” + “to marry”) means “hidden reproduction“, referring to the fact that no seed is produced, thus cryptogams represent the non-seed bearing plants.) – at that time very little studied, and became an authority on them.

The results of his herborisations round London were recorded in his copy of Ray’s ‘Synopsis,’ now in the British Museum.

 

Above: A cryptogam fern (Polystichum setiferum)

 

Mark Catesby (1683 – 1749) was an English naturalist.

Between 1729 and 1747 Catesby published his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first published account of the flora and fauna of North America.

It included 220 plates of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, mammals and plants.

 

 

An acquaintance with the naturalist John Ray led to Catesby becoming interested in natural history.

 

The death of his father left Catesby enough to live on, so in 1712, he accompanied his sister Elizabeth to Williamsburg, Virginia.

She was the wife of Dr. William Cocke, who had been a member of the Council and Secretary of State for the Colony of Virginia.

According to their father’s will, Elizabeth had married Dr. Cocke against her father’s wishes.

 

Catesby visited the West Indies in 1714, and returned to Virginia, then home to England in 1719.

Catesby had collected seeds and botanical specimens in Virginia and Jamaica.

He sent the pressed specimens to Dr Samuel Dale of Braintree in Essex, and gave seeds to a Hoxton nurseryman Thomas Fairchild as well as to Dale and to the Bishop of London, Dr Henry Compton.

Plants from Virginia, raised from Catesby’s seeds, made his name known to gardeners and scientists in England, and in 1722 he was recommended by William Sherard to undertake a plant-collecting expedition to Carolina on behalf of certain members of the Royal Society.

From May 1722, Catesby was based in Charleston, South Carolina, and travelled to other parts of that colony, collecting plants and animals.

 

 

He sent preserved specimens to Hans Sloane and to William Sherard, and seeds to various contacts including Sherard and Peter Collinson.

 

Peter Collinson (botanist) - Wikipedia

 

(Peter Collinson (1694 – 1768) was a Fellow of the Royal Society, an avid gardener and the middleman for an international exchange of scientific ideas in mid-18th century London.

He is best known for his horticultural friendship with John Bartram and his correspondence with Benjamin Franklin about electricity.)

 

切爾西藥草園- 维基百科,自由的百科全书

 

Consequently, Catesby was responsible for introducing such plants as Catalpa bignonioides and the eponymous Catesbaea spinosa (lilythorn) to cultivation in Europe.

 

Catesbaea spinosa, Lily Thorn.

 

Catesby returned to England in 1726.

Catesby spent the next twenty years preparing and publishing his Natural History.

Publication was financed by subscriptions from his “Encouragers” as well as an interest-free loan from one of the fellows of the Royal Society, the Quaker Peter Collinson.

Catesby learnt how to etch the copper plates himself.

The first eight plates had no backgrounds, but from then on Catesby included plants with his animals.

Catesby’s original preparatory drawings for Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands are in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, and selections have been exhibited in the US, Japan and various places in England.

 

 

On 5 March 1747, Catesby read a paper entitled “Of birds of passage” to the Royal Society in London and he is now recognised as one of the first people to describe bird migration.

 

Geese Fly to Exhaustion in Race Against Climate Change | Live Science

 

Philip Miller was appointed Head Gardener at Sloane’s suggestion in 1722 and served the Garden for nearly 50 years.

During his long tenure Miller firmly established the Garden as the world’s leading centre for botanical plant exchange.

This seed-exchange programme was established following a visit in 1682 from Dutch botanist Paul Hermann (1646 – 1695) of the Hortus Botanicus Leiden and still continues.

 

 

The seed exchange program’s most notable act may have been the introduction of cotton into the colony of Georgia and more recently, the worldwide spread of the Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus).

 

Catharanthus roseus24 08 2012 (1).JPG

 

Johann Amman (or Johannes Amman or Иоганн Амман) (1707 in Schaffhausen – 1741 in St Petersburg), was a Swiss-Russian botanist, a member of the Royal Society and professor of botany at the Russian Academy of Sciences at St Petersburg.

He is best known for his Stirpium Rariorum in Imperio Rutheno Sponte Provenientium Icones et Descriptiones published in 1739 with descriptions of some 285 plants from Eastern Europe and Ruthenia (now Ukraine).

 

Johann Amman05.jpg

 

The plates are unsigned, though an engraving on the dedicatory leaf of the work is signed “Philipp Georg Mattarnovy“, a Swiss-Italian engraver, Filippo Giorgio Mattarnovi (1716-1742), who worked at the St. Petersburg Academy.

Amman was a student of Herman Boerhaave at Leyden from where he graduated as a physician in 1729.

 

(Herman Boerhaave (1668 – 1738) was a Dutch botanist, chemist, Christian humanist, and physician of European fame.

 

Herman Boerhaave - Wikipedia

 

He is regarded as the founder of clinical teaching and of the modern academic hospital and is sometimes referred to as “the father of physiology“.

Boerhaave introduced the quantitative approach into medicine and is best known for demonstrating the relation of symptoms to lesions.

He was the first to isolate the chemical urea from urine.

He was the first physician to put thermometer measurements to clinical practice.

His motto was Simplex sigillum veri:

‘Simplicity is the sign of the truth’.

He is often hailed as the “Dutch Hippocrates“.)

 

Amman came from Schaffhausen in Switzerland in 1729 to help Hans Sloane curate his natural history collection.

Sloane was founder of the Chelsea Physic Garden and originator of the British Museum.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Garten - visitlondon.com

 

Amman went on to St Petersburg at the invitation of Johann Georg Gmelin (1709-1755) and became a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, regularly sending interesting plants, such as Gypsophila paniculata (baby’s breath), back to Sloane.

 

Johann Georg Gmelin.jpg

Gypsophila paniculata.jpg

Above: Gypsophila paniculata (baby’s breath)

 

Carl Linnaeus maintained a lively correspondence with Amman between 1736 and 1740.

 

(Carl Linnaeus or Carl von Linné (1707 – 1778) was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms.

 

Portrait of Linnaeus on a brown background with the word "Linne" in the top right corner

 

He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy“.

He received most of his higher education at Uppsala University and began giving lectures in botany there in 1730.

He lived abroad between 1735 and 1738, where he studied and also published the first edition of his Systema Naturae in the Netherlands.

He then returned to Sweden where he became professor of medicine and botany at Uppsala.

In the 1740s, he was sent on several journeys through Sweden to find and classify plants and animals.

In the 1750s and 1760s, he continued to collect and classify animals, plants, and minerals, while publishing several volumes.

 

He was one of the most acclaimed scientists in Europe at the time of his death.

 

Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau sent him the message:

“Tell him I know no greater man on Earth.”

 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote:

“With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly.”

 

Swedish author August Strindberg wrote:

“Linnaeus was in reality a poet who happened to become a naturalist.”

 

Linnaeus has been called Princeps botanicorum (Prince of Botanists) and “The Pliny of the North“.

 

He is also considered as one of the founders of modern ecology.

 

In botany and zoology, the abbreviation L. is used to indicate Linnaeus as the authority for a species’ name.

Linnaeus’s remains comprise the type specimen for the species Homo sapiens following the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, since the sole specimen that he is known to have examined was himself.)

 

 

William Houstoun (occasionally spelt Houston) (1695 – 1733) was a Scottish surgeon and botanist who collected plants in the West Indies, Mexico and South America.

Houstoun was born in Houston, Renfrewshire.

He began a degree course in medicine at St Andrew’s University, but interrupted his studies to visit the West Indies, returning in 1727.

University of St Andrews - Scotland's first university, founded 1413

On 6 October 1727, he entered the University of Leyden to continue his studies under Boerhaave, graduating M.D. in 1729.

It was during his time at Leyden that Houstoun became interested in the medicinal properties of plants.

 

Leiden University - Wikipedia

 

After returning to England that year, he soon sailed for the Caribbean and the Americas employed as a ship’s surgeon for the South Sea Company.

 

South Sea Company - Wikipedia

 

He collected plants in Jamaica, Cuba, Venezuela and Veracruz, despatching seeds and plants to Philip Miller, head gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London.

 

Datei:Chelsea Physic Garden 15052013 071.jpg – Wikipedia

 

Notable among these plants was Dorstenia contrayerva, a reputed cure for snakebite, and Buddleja americana, the latter named by Linnaeus, at Houstoun’s request, for the English cleric and botanist Adam Buddle, although Buddle could have known nothing of the plant as he had died in 1715.

 

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Above: Dorstenia contrajerva (Theodor Dorsten’s anti-snakebite plant)

 

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Above: Buddleja americana (American Butterfly bush)

 

Houstoun published accounts of his studies in Catalogus plantarum horti regii Parisiensis.

When Houstoun returned to London in 1731, he was introduced to Sir Hans Sloane by Miller.

Sloane commissioned him to undertake a three-year expedition, financed by the trustees for the Province of Georgia ‘for improving botany and agriculture in Georgia‘, and to help stock the Trustee’s Garden planned for Savannah.

Houstoun initially sailed to the Madeira Islands to gather grape plantings before continuing his voyage across the Atlantic.

However he never completed his mission as he ‘died from the heat‘ on 14 August 1733 soon after arriving in Jamaica.

He was buried at Kingston.

 

8 BEST Places to Visit in Jamaica [2020] – One Weird Globe

Above: Modern Kingston, Jamaica

 

 

Isaac Rand, a member and a fellow of the Royal Society published a condensed catalogue of the Garden in 1730, Index plantarum officinalium, quas ad materiae medicae scientiam promovendam, in horto Chelseiano.

 

 

Isaac Rand (1674–1743) was an English botanist and apothecary, who was a lecturer and director at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Isaac was the son of James Rand, who in 1674 agreed, with thirteen other members of the Society of Apothecaries, to build a wall round the Chelsea Botanical Garden.

 

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Isaac Rand was already an apothecary practising in the Haymarket, London, in 1700.

 

Haymarket, London - Wikipedia

 

In Leonard Plukenet’s Mantissa, published in that year, Rand is mentioned as the discoverer, in Tothill Fields, Westminster, of the plant now known as Rumex palustris, and was described as “stirpium indagator diligentissimus … pharmacopœus Londinensis, et magnæ spei botanicus.’

 

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Above: Rumex palustrus (Marsh dock)

 

He seems to have paid particular attention to inconspicuous plants, especially in the neighbourhood of London.

 

Thus Samuel Doody records in a manuscript note:

Mr. Rand first showed me this beautiful dock Rumex maritimus, growing plentifully in a moist place near Burlington House.

 

Burlington House - Wikipedia

 

Adam Buddle, in his manuscript Flora, which was completed before 1708, attributes to him the finding of Mentha pubescensabout some ponds near Marybone” and of the plant styled by James Petiver “Rand’s Oak Blite” (Chenopodium glaucum).

 

Mentha pubescens var hircina Bluntspiked Mint var Editorial Stock ...

Above: Mentha pubescens (hairy mint)

 

Chenopodium glaucum — Flora Batava — Volume v5.jpg

Above: Chenopodium glaucum (oak-leaved goosefoot)

 

In 1707 Rand, and nineteen other members, including Petiver and Joseph Miller, took a lease of the Chelsea Garden, to assist the Society of Apothecaries, and were constituted trustees.

For some time prior to the death of Petiver in 1718, Rand seems either to have assisted him or to have succeeded him in the office of demonstrator of plants to the Society.

 

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In 1724, Rand was appointed to the newly created office of præfectus horti, or director of the Garden.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | 11 Cadogan Gardens

 

 

Among other duties, Rand had to give at least two demonstrations in the garden in each of the six summer months, and to transmit to the Royal Society the fifty specimens per annum required by the terms of Sir Hans Sloane’s donation of the Garden.

Lists of the plants he sent for several years are in the Sloane Manuscripts.

 

Philip Miller was gardener throughout Rand’s tenure of the office of præfectus and it was in 1736 that Carl Linnæus visited the Garden.

 

Dillenius’s edition of John Ray’s Synopsis Methodica Stirpium Britannicarum (1724) contains several records by Rand, whose assistance is acknowledged in the preface.

Rand is specially mentioned by the illustrator Elizabeth Blackwell as having assisted her with specimens for her Curious Herbal (1737–39), which was executed at Chelsea.

Rand is one of those who prefix to the work a certificate of accuracy and a copy in the British Museum Library has manuscript notes by him.

 

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Rand prompted botanical artists like Blackwell and Georg Dionysius Ehret, to make illustrations of the living herbaceous plants produced by the Garden.

 

(Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708 – 1770) was born in Germany to Ferdinand Christian Ehret, a gardener and competent draughtsman, and Anna Maria Ehret.

 

 

 

Beginning his working life as a gardener’s apprentice near Heidelberg, he became one of the most influential European botanical artists of all time.

His first illustrations were in collaboration with Carl Linnaeus and George Clifford in 1735-1736.

Clifford, a wealthy Dutch banker and governor of the Dutch East India Company was a keen botanist with a large herbarium.

He had the income to attract the talents of botanists such as Linnaeus and artists like Ehret.

Together at the Clifford estate, Hartecamp, which is located south of Haarlem in Heemstede near Bennebroek, they produced Hortus Cliffortianus in 1738, a masterpiece of early botanical literature.)

 

 

 

Rand was friends with Mark Catesby, receiving seeds he collected in the Americas and a subscriber to his seminal Natural History of the region.

Rand produced two catalogues of the Garden and coöperated with the Leiden Physic Garden via Herman Boerhaave.

In 1730, perhaps somewhat piqued by Philip Miller’s issue of his Catalogus in that year, Rand printed the aforementioned Index plantarum officinalium in horto Chelseiano.

 

In a letter to Samuel Brewer, dated ‘Haymarket, 11 July 1730‘, Rand says that the Apothecaries’ Company had ordered the Index to be printed.

In 1739 Rand published ‘Horti medici Chelseiani Index Compendiarius,’ an alphabetical Latin list occupying 214 pages.

 

Rand’s widow presented his botanical books and an extensive collection of dried specimens to the company, and bequeathed 50s a year to the præfectus horti for annually replacing twenty decayed specimens in the latter by new ones.

This herbarium was preserved at Chelsea, with those of Ray and Dale, until 1863, when all three were presented to the British Museum.

Linnæus retained the name Randia, applied by William Houston in Rand’s honour to a genus of tropical Rubiaceæ.

 

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Above: Randia (Indigo berry)

 

 

 

Jacob van Huysum (1688 – 1740) was an 18th-century botanical painter from the northern Netherlands.

Both his father Justus van Huysum (1659–1716) and his brother Jan van Huysum (1682–1749) were celebrated flower painters.

His manner of painting was very like that of his brother.

His approach to botanical illustration, while preserving botanical accuracy, captured a more artistic aspect of his subject.

This contrasts with the meticulously exact mode of Georg Dionysius Ehret, his contemporary colleague.

He produced most of the 50 illustrations for John Martyn’s Historia Plantarum Rariorum (London: 1728-38), and all the drawings for Catalogus Plantarum, an index of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers (London: 1730).

 

 

Historia Plantarum Rariorum depicted plants from the Chelsea Physic Garden and the Cambridge Botanic Garden.

These plants had come from the Cape of Good Hope, North America, the West Indies and Mexico.

Each plate was dedicated to a patron and showed an engraved coat-of-arms or monogram.

The work was published in five parts of ten plates each between 1728 and 1737, and was sold by subscription.

The venture was not a financial success and publication ceased in 1737.

 

Above: Solidago virga-aurea (European goldenrod)

 

Meanwhile, so extensive was Miller’s impact on gardening that between 1731 and 1768 he doubled the number of plants cultivated in Britain.

In 1731 Miller published his Gardeners Dictionary, the most complete work on gardening of its time.

 

The Gardeners Dictionary V3: Containing The Methods Of Cultivating ...

 

 

James Lee (1715 – 1795) was a Scottish gardener who had apprenticed at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

James Lee was a correspondent with Carl Linnaeus, through Lee’s connection with the Chelsea Physic Garden.

He compiled an introduction to the Linnaean system, An Introduction to Botany, published in 1760, which passed through five editions.

 

 

 

John Bartram (1699 – 1777) was an early American botanist, horticulturist and explorer.

 

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Carl Linnaeus said he was the “greatest natural botanist in the world.”

Bartram was born into a Quaker farm family in colonial Pennsylvania.

He considered himself a plain farmer, with no formal education beyond the local school.

He had a lifelong interest in medicine and medicinal plants, and read widely.

His botanical career started with a small area of his farm devoted to growing plants he found interesting.

Later he made contact with European botanists and gardeners interested in North American plants and developed his hobby into a thriving business.

Bartram came to travel extensively in the eastern American colonies collecting plants.

 

In 1743 he visited the shores of Lake Ontario in the north and wrote Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers, Productions, Animals, and other Matters Worthy of Notice, made by Mr. John Bartram in his Travels from Pennsylvania to Onondaga, Oswego, and the Lake Ontario, in Canada.

During the winter of 1765 – 1766 he visited East Florida in the south and an account of this trip was published with his journal.

He also visited the Ohio River in the west.

 

Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers ...

 

Many of his acquisitions were transported to collectors in Europe.

In return, they supplied him with books and apparatus.

Bartram, sometimes called the “father of American botany“, was one of the first practicing Linnaean botanists in North America.

 

Portraits of Delco: John Bartram - Botanist

 

His plant specimens were forwarded to Linnaeus, Dillenius and Gronovius, and he assisted Linnaeus’ student Pehr Kalm during his extended collecting trip to North America from 1748 to 1750.

 

(Laurens Theodoor Gronovius (1730 – 1777), also known as Laurentius Theodorus Gronovius or Laurens Theodoor Gronow, was a Dutch naturalist born in Leiden.

 

 

Throughout his lifetime Gronovius amassed an extensive collection of zoological and botanical specimens.

He is especially remembered for his work in the field of ichthyology, where he played a significant role in the classification of fishes.

In 1754 he published the treatise Museum ichthyologicum, in which he described over 200 species of fish.

He is also credited with developing a technique for preservation of fish skins.

Today, a number of these preserved specimens are kept in the Natural History Museum in London.)

 

Bartram was aided in his collecting efforts by colonists.

In Bartram’s Diary of a Journey through the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, a trip taken from 1 July 1765 to 10 April 1766, Bartram wrote of specimens he had collected.

 

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In the colony of British East Florida he was helped by Dr. David Yeats, secretary of the colony.

His 8-acre (32,000 m2) botanic garden, Bartram’s Garden in Kingsessing on the west bank of the Schuylkill, about 3 miles (5 km) from the center of Philadelphia is frequently cited as the first true botanic collection in North America.

 

 

He was one of the co-founders, with Benjamin Franklin, of the American Philosophical Society in 1743.

 

American Philosophical Society - Philadelphia, USA - Benjamin ...

 

Bartram was particularly instrumental in sending seeds from the New World to European gardeners:

Many North American trees and flowers were first introduced into cultivation in Europe by this route.

 

Take some time out and visit the Chelsea Physic Garden - Draker ...

 

Beginning in 1733, Bartram’s work was assisted by his association with the English merchant Peter Collinson.

Collinson, himself a lover of plants, was a fellow Quaker and a member of the Royal Society, with a familiar relationship with its president, Sir Hans Sloane.

 

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Collinson shared Bartram’s new plants with friends and fellow gardeners.

Early Bartram collections went to Lord Petre, Philip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Mark Catesby, the Duke of Richmond, and the Duke of Norfolk.

 

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In the 1730s, Robert James Petre, 8th Baron Petre of Thorndon Hall, Essex, was the foremost collector of North American trees and shrubs in Europe.

Earl Petre’s untimely death in 1743 led to his American tree collection being auctioned off to Woburn, Goodwood and other large English country estates.

Thereafter Collinson became Bartram’s chief London agent.

 

Bartram’s Boxes, as they then became known, were regularly sent to Peter Collinson every fall for distribution in England to a wide list of clients, including the Duke of Argyll, James Gordon, James Lee and John Busch, progenitor of the exotic Loddiges nursery in London.

The boxes generally contained 100 or more varieties of seeds, and sometimes included dried plant specimens and natural history curiosities as well.

Live plants were more difficult and expensive to send and were reserved for Collinson and a few special correspondents.

 

Bartram's Boxes Remix | Wooden boxes, Remix

 

In 1765 after lobbying by Collinson and Benjamin Franklin in London, King George III rewarded Bartram a pension of £50 per year as King’s Botanist for North America, a post he held until his death.

With this position, Bartram’s seeds and plants also went to the royal collection at Kew Gardens.

Bartram also contributed seeds to the Oxford and Edinburgh botanic gardens.

 

Full-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young George in eighteenth century dress: gold jacket and breeches, ermine cloak, powdered wig, white stockings, and buckled shoes.

Above: King George III (1738 – 1820)

 

Most of Bartram’s many plant discoveries were named by botanists in Europe.

He is best known today for:

  • the discovery and introduction of a wide range of North American flowering trees and shrubs, including kalmia, rhododendron and magnolia species
  • introducing the Dionaea muscipulia or Venus flytrap to cultivation

 

Venus Flytrap showing trigger hairs.jpg

 

  • the discovery of the Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha) in southeastern Georgia in 1765, later named by his son William Bartram.

 

Franklinia alatamaha.jpg

 

Bartram’s name is remembered in the genera of mosses, Bartramia, and in plants such as the North American serviceberry, Amelanchier bartramiana, and the subtropical tree Commersonia bartramia (Christmas Kurrajong) growing from the Bellinger River in coastal eastern Australia to Cape York, Vanuatu and Malaysia.

 

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Above: Amelanchier bartramiana (Bartram’s mountain juneberry)

 

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Above: Commersonia bartramia (Bartram’s Christmas kurrajong)

 

 

Elizabeth Blackwell (1707 –1758)(née Blachrie) was a Scottish botanical illustrator and author who was best known as both the artist and engraver for the plates of A Curious Herbal, published between 1737 and 1739.

The book illustrated many odd-looking and unknown plants from the New World, and was designed as a reference work on medicinal plants for the use of physicians and apothecaries.

 

Elizabeth Blackwell NLM 01 (cropped).jpg

 

Elizabeth Blachrie was the daughter of a successful Scottish merchant in Aberdeen and was trained as an artist.

 

She secretly married her cousin, Alexander Blackwell (1709 – 1747), a Scottish doctor and economist and settled in Aberdeen where he maintained a medical practice.

Although his education was sound, his qualifications were questioned, leading to the young couple’s hasty move to London, fearing charges that Alexander was practicing illegally.

In London, Alexander became associated with a publishing firm, and having gained some experience, established his own printing house, despite not belonging to a guild nor having served the required apprenticeship as a printer.

He was charged with flouting the strict trade rules, and heavily fined, forcing him to close his shop.

 

By now Elizabeth was destitute.

Because of Alexander’s lavish spending and the fines that had been imposed, the couple were heavily in debt – Alexander found himself in debtor’s prison.

 

With her husband in gaol, a household to run, a child to care for, and with no income, the situation was desperate.

 

She learned that a herbal was needed to depict and describe exotic plants from the New World.

She decided that she could illustrate it, and that Alexander, given his medical background, could write the descriptions of the plants.

 

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As she completed the drawings, Elizabeth would take them to her husband’s cell where he supplied the correct names in Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and German.

Unlike her husband, Elizabeth was untrained in botany.

 

 

To compensate for this, she was aided by Isaac Rand, then curator of the Chelsea Physick Garden, where many of these new plants were under cultivation.

At Rand’s suggestion, she relocated near the Garden so she could draw the plants from life.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Days Out | London garden, Garden, London

 

In addition to the drawings, Elizabeth engraved the copper printing plates for the 500 images and text, and hand-coloured the printed illustrations.

 

 

The first printing of A Curious Herbal met with moderate success, both because of the meticulous quality of the illustrations and the great need for an updated herbal.

 

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Physicians and apothecaries acclaimed the work and it received a commendation from the Royal College of Physicians.

 

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A second edition was printed 20 years later in a revised and enlarged format in Nuremberg by Dr. Christoph Jacob Trew, a botanist and physician, between 1757 and 1773.

 

Above: Christoph Jacob Trew (1695 – 1769)

 

Revenue from the book led to Alexander’s release from prison.

However, within a short while debts again accumulated, forcing the couple to sell some of the publication rights to the book.

Alexander also became involved in several unsuccessful business ventures, and eventually left the family to start a new life in Sweden.

 

Alexander Blackwell arrived in Sweden in 1742 and carried on with agricultural experiments he had started when in Aberdeen.

These included the breeding of horses and sheep and dairy management.

His achievements were recognised and he was appointed court physician to Frederick I of Sweden.

 

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Above: Frederick I (1676 – 1751)

 

Blackwell attempted to strengthen the diplomatic ties between Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden.

As Great Britain had no ambassador in Sweden, he contacted a Minister in Denmark.

On circumstantial evidence he was accused of conspiracy against the Crown Prince.

He was tried and sentenced to be decapitated.

He remained in good spirits to the last – at the block, having laid his head wrong, he remarked that since it was his first beheading, he lacked experience and needed instruction.

On 9 August 1747 he was executed as his wife was leaving London to join him.

 

Little is known of Elizabeth Blackwell’s later years.

She was buried on 27 October 1758 and her grave is at All Saints Church in Chelsea.

 

All Saints, Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne... © John Salmon ...

 

 

Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal has featured on the British Library website as a “classic of botanical illustration.”

 

 

William Hudson (1730 – 1793) was a British botanist and apothecary based in London.

Hudson was apprenticed to a London apothecary.

Hudson obtained the prize for botany given by the Apothecaries’ Company, a copy of John Ray’s Synopsis.

But he also paid attention to mollusca and insects.

 

Joannis Raii Synopsis Methodica Avium Et Piscium : Professor of ...

 

In Thomas Pennant’s British Zoology, Hudson is mentioned as the discoverer of Trochus terrestris.

 

British zoology, : Amazon.co.uk: Thomas Pennant: Books

 

(Thomas Pennant (1726 – 1798) was a Welsh naturalist, traveller, writer and antiquarian.

He was born and lived his whole life at his family estate, Downing Hall near Whitford, Flintshire, in Wales.

 

 

As a naturalist he had a great curiosity, observing the geography, geology, plants, animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish around him and recording what he saw and heard about.

 

 

Pennant wrote acclaimed books including British Zoology, the History of Quadrupeds, Arctic Zoology and Indian Zoology although he never travelled further afield than continental Europe.

He knew and maintained correspondence with many of the scientific figures of his day.

His books influenced the writings of Samuel Johnson.

 

Portrait of Samuel Johnson in 1772 painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Above: Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

 

As an antiquarian, Pennant amassed a considerable collection of art and other works, largely selected for their scientific interest.

Many of these works are now housed at the National Library of Wales.

 

As a traveller he visited Scotland and many other parts of Britain and wrote about them.

Many of his travels took him to places that were little known to the British public and the travelogues he produced, accompanied by painted and engraved colour plates, were much appreciated.

 

 

Each tour started at his home and related in detail the route, the scenery, the habits and activities of the people he met, their customs and superstitions and the wildlife he saw or heard about.

 

 

Pennant travelled on horseback accompanied by his servant, Moses Griffith, who sketched the things they encountered, later to work these up into illustrations for the books.

He was an amiable man with a large circle of friends and was still busily following his interests into his sixties.

He enjoyed good health throughout his life and died at Downing at the age of seventy two.)

 

Thomas Pennant - Wikipedia

Above: Thomas Pennant (1726 – 1798)

 

 

From 1757 to 1768. Hudson was resident sub-librarian of the British Museum and his studies in the Sloane herbarium enabled him to adapt the Linnean nomenclature to the plants described by Ray far more accurately than did Sir John Hill in his Flora Britannica of 1760.

 

Flora Britanica: Sive, Synopsis Methodica Stirpium Britanicarum ...

 

 

In 1761 Hudson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in the following year appeared the first edition of his Flora Anglica, which, according to Pulteney and Sir J. E. Smith, “marks the establishment of Linnean principles of botany in England.”

Hudson, at the time of its publication, was practising as an apothecary in Panton Street, Haymarket, and from 1765 to 1771 acted as ‘praefectus horti’ to the Apothecaries’ Company at Chelsea.

 

The Chelsea Physic Garden | The Chelsea Physic Garden was es… | Flickr

 

A considerably enlarged edition of the Flora appeared in 1778, but in 1783 the author’s house in Panton Street took fire, his collections of insects and many of his plants were destroyed, and the inmates narrowly escaped with their lives.

Hudson retired to Jermyn Street.

In 1791 he joined the newly established Linnean Society.

He died in Jermyn Street from paralysis on 23 May 1793, being, according to the Gentleman’s Magazine, in his 60th year.

He bequeathed the remains of his herbarium to the Apothecaries’ Company.

Linnaeus gave the name Hudsonia to a North American genus of Cistaceae.

 

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Above: Hudsonia tomentosa (Hudson’s heather / golden heather / poverty grass / beach heath)

 

 

John Fraser (1750 – 1811) was a Scottish botanist who collected plant specimens around the world, from North America and the West Indies to Russia and points between, with his primary career activity from 1780 to 1810.

 

John Fraser, lithograph of an 18th-century portrait

 

Fraser was a commissioned plant collector for Catherine, Czarina of Russia in 1795, Paul I of Russia in 1798 and for the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1806.

Fraser issued nursery catalogues in 1790 and 1796, and had an important herbarium that was eventually sold to the Linnean Society.

 

In 1770, five years before the American War of Independence and coincident with Captain James Cook’s discovery of the eastern Australian coast, Fraser arrived in London as a young man to make his way in the city, at first following the trade of a hosier (a draper working with linen).

 

James Cook - Wikipedia

Above: James Cook (1728 – 1779)

 

Fraser soon came to know the Chelsea Physic Garden, and it was through his visits there that he became inspired with a desire to advance horticulture in England.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden: Our English garden of the week | London ...

 

He married Frances Shaw on 21 June 1778 and settled down in a small shop in Paradise Bow, Chelsea.

 

Not long content with life in London, Fraser soon began to quit the mercantile counter as often as he could to watch the gardeners at work.

 

chelsea physic garden - London Diary

 

He befriended William Forsyth who at that time had charge of the Apothecaries’ Garden.

 

Tangerine Dream Café, Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital ...

 

Through that acquaintance Fraser would have become familiar with his predecessor Mark Catesby’s travels, as some of Catesby’s specimens from his travels were housed at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and Catesby’s writings and engravings on the flora of the Americas were also published by the time Fraser moved to London.

Fraser took up botanical collecting and, two years after the United States of America had named itself, departed England for Newfoundland in 1780 with Admiral Campbell.

 

Above: Campbell’s ship, the HMS Victory

 

Upon returning to England, Fraser sailed again in 1783 to explore the New World with his eldest son John Jr.

Fraser’s early expeditions were financed by William Aiton of Kew Gardens, William Forsyth, and James Edward Smith of the Linnean Society.

In the 1780s Fraser established the American Nursery at Sloane Square, King’s Road, which his sons continued after his death in partnership from 1811 to 1817.

The nursery was on the east side of the Royal Military School and extended over twelve acres.

 

Sloane Square in Winter.jpg

 

As the 18th century came to a close, botanists who hunted plants afar were adventurers and explorers, John Fraser among them, fielding shipwrecks, sieges, slavery, pirates, escaped convicts and hostile natives.

Fraser travelled extensively, from Scotland to England, the Americas, the West Indies, Russia, and points between.

He began by collecting in Newfoundland from 1780 to 1784, and then moved on to the Appalachian Mountains in eastern North America, all without the benefit of railroads or well-established highways.

By the time he completed his journeys, John Fraser had introduced about 220 distinct species of plants from the Americas to Europe and beyond.

 

 

Fraser made his first trip to the American south, and specifically to Charleston, South Carolina in 1784, sending home consignments of plants to Frank Thorburn of Old Brompton.

 

Returning to England in 1785 with the expectation of recompense for his labour and risk, Fraser was astonished to learn that all the valuable plants he had forwarded were dead, and the survivors, which were common, could not be disposed of.

Vexed, Fraser subsequently entered into a lawsuit over the matter, a suit long and very expensive to both parties, but sailed again for South Carolina in the autumn nonetheless.

 

On his return trip that autumn Fraser made his way north through Berkeley County to the Santee River, befriending Thomas Walter along the way.

Fraser continued on to the Piedmont region of the Appalachians, discovering Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox) in Georgia along the southeastern edge of the southern Blue Ridge, and in 1787 he arrived in Pickens County near Chickamaua Cherokee land during the Cherokee–American wars.

 

Creeping Phlox Phlox stolonifera Flowers 3008px.jpg

 

 

There he collected what became known later as Magnolia fraseri.

Fraser gave his contemporary William Bartram his original specimen of Magnolia fraseri.

The specimen is housed in the Walter Herbarium in the British Museum of Natural History collection.

 

Magnolia fraseri - Curtis.jpg

Above: Magnolia fraseri (Fraser’s mountain magnolia)

 

The Hortus Kewensis recorded 16 new plants as having been introduced by Fraser in 1786 and five more in 1787.

 

Fraser trekked the Allegheny Mountains in 1789 when trans-Allegheny travel was limited to indigenous peoples’ trails and one military trail, Braddock Road, built in 1751 and too far north of his journeys to be of help.

He travelled with François André Michaux, and on the summit of the Great Roan was the first European to discover the Rhododendron catawbiense, now cultivated in many varieties.

 

Above: Francois André Michaux (1770 – 1855)

 

Of the rhododendrons Fraser wrote:

“We supplied ourselves with living plants, which were transmitted to England, all of which grew, and were sold for five guineas each.”

 

Above: Rhododendron catawbiense (Catawba or mountain rosebay or rhodendron or purple laurel)

 

In 1795 Fraser made a first visit to Saint Petersburg where he sold a choice collection of plants to the Empress Catherine.

To his delight she requested he set his own price.

 

Catherine II by J.B.Lampi (1780s, Kunsthistorisches Museum).jpg

Above: Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796)

 

While there, he bought Black and White Tartarian cherries in 1796, thereafter introducing them for the first time to England.

 

Pomological Watercolor POM00004652.jpg

 

In 1797 Czar Paul I ordered that Fraser be paid 4,000 rubles for his plants that year, and by the next spring, Fraser had received £500 sterling for his efforts.

In 1798 Fraser travelled again to Russia, returning afterward with the commission Botanical Collector to the Emperor Paul, under the signatures of both Paul and Catherine and dated Pavlovskoe (Pavlov Palace) August 1798.

 

Emperor Paul I of Russia.png

Above: Paul I (1754 – 1801)

 

Based on his trust in the Imperial commission and in furtherance of carrying out the duties it imposed upon him, Fraser and his eldest son John started out once more in 1799, bound for America and the West Indies.

They visited with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and made an extended journey through Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia, returning to Charleston in December 1800.

 

Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800)(cropped).jpg

Above: Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

 

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (cropped).JPG

Above: Monticello

 

From there they set out for Cuba, but the sailing was a perilous one since between Havana and the United States they were shipwrecked on a coral reef, about 40 miles (64 km) from land and 80 miles (130 km) from Havana, escaping only with great difficulty.

“For six days they, with sixteen of the crew, endured the greatest privations until picked up by a Spanish boat and conveyed to land.

The trip was nearly disastrous and the men barely escaped with their lives.

 

Blue Linckia Starfish.JPG

 

While collecting specimens in Cuba, “a time when the sea was swarming with pirates“, Fraser met the explorers Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland on their circuitous journey from the Amazon to Cartagena.

 

(Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859) was a Prussian polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer and proponent of Romantic philosophy and science.

Humboldt’s quantitative work on botanical geography laid the foundation for the field of biogeography.

Humboldt’s advocacy of long-term systematic geophysical measurement laid the foundation for modern geomagnetic and meteorological monitoring.

Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt travelled extensively in the Americas, exploring and describing them for the first time from a modern scientific point of view.

His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years.

Humboldt was one of the first people to propose that the lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once joined (South America and Africa in particular).

Humboldt resurrected the use of the word cosmos from the ancient Greek and assigned it to his multivolume treatise, Kosmos, in which he sought to unify diverse branches of scientific knowledge and culture.

This important work also motivated a holistic perception of the universe as one interacting entity.

He was the first person to describe the phenomenon and cause of human-induced climate change, in 1800 and again in 1831, based on observations generated during his travels.)

 

Stieler, Joseph Karl - Alexander von Humboldt - 1843.jpg

Above: Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859)

 

(Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland (1773 – 1858) was a French explorer and botanist who traveled with Alexander von Humboldt in Latin America from 1799 to 1804.

He co-authored volumes of the scientific results of their expedition.

Having befriended Alexander von Humboldt, Bonpland joined him on a five-year journey through the Canary Islands, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and the United States, as well as the Orinoco and Amazon basins.

During this trip, Bonpland collected and classified about 6,000 plants that were mostly unknown in Europe up to that time.

His account of these findings was published as a series of volumes from 1808 to 1816 entitled Equatorial Plants (French: Plantes equinoxiales). )

 

Bonpland Aimé 1773-1858.jpg

Above: Aimé Bonpland (1773 – 1858)

 

 

Fraser’s son returned to England first, transporting a large botanical collection of Humboldt’s after he had kindly intervened on their behalf during their sojourn to keep them safe.

Fraser returned from Cuba to America and then to England in 1802 with “a goodly collection of rarities”, one of which was his discovery (as a European) of Jatropha pandurifolia.

 

Redflowers8.jpg

Above: Jatropha integerrima (spicy nettle splurge)

 

In 1807, both father and son again sailed for North America and the West Indies.

On his next trip to London after collecting in Matanzas, Fraser brought home a tropical palm with silvered leaves, Corypha miraguama, and made a manufacturing proposal for hand-weaving of hats and bonnets from its leaves.

 

Corypha umbraculifera 1913.jpg

 

When Fraser made his next visit to the Romanov court in 1805 expecting remuneration, to his great disappointment he discovered that the new Emperor would have nothing to do with him.

Undaunted, he repeated the trip, visiting both Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but in vain.

After the Emperor Paul I’s assassination in March 1801, the new Emperor Alexander I declined to recognise Fraser’s appointment.

 

Alexander I of Russia by G.Dawe (1826, Peterhof).jpg

Above: Alexander I (1777 – 1825)

 

Fraser petitioned his cause for two years, finally resorting to seeking assistance from the British ambassadorial corps, and was ultimately paid 6,000 rubles by royal decree in April 1803.

The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, an enthusiastic amateur botanist herself, supported his efforts, giving him a diamond ring and commissioning him for specimens for the Imperial Gardens of Gatchina and Pavlovsk Palace.

 

Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark).jpg

Above: Maria Feodorovna (1847 – 1928)

 

The director of the Imperial Botanic Garden at Saint Petersburg catalogued 18 of Fraser’s North American species in the early years of the 19th century, with some of the specimens surviving as of 1997 in the Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

After the Romanov affair, Fraser faced severe financial difficulty, though again he sailed to America.

While successful in his research there, his nursery at home fell into neglect through his absence and money problems.

 

Fraser made his seventh and last voyage to the United States in 1807.

Near Charleston he fell from his horse and broke several of his ribs, an injury from which he never fully recovered.

His final voyage before returning to England was from America to Cuba in 1810 for a last visit to a country that welcomed him despite the nationalistic differences of the day, and from which he had a richly rewarding collecting history.

 

Above: Abies frasieri (Fraser Fir), named for John Fraser, is native to the southeastern Appalachian Mountains.

 

Although he was known to his contemporaries as “John Fraser, the indefatigable“, owing to his business and travel vexations and possibly also to exhaustion from his injuries after his fall, and his frequent and fatiguing journeys, his life was shortened — though a robust man, he died in April 1811 in London, Sloane Square, at only 60.

Throughout his travels, Fraser sent his collections to his nursery in London for reproduction and general sale to gardeners and architects coming to London to look for plants, to his herbarium (later becoming that of the Linnean Society) for further study, and to his clients, including Catherine the Great, the Emperor Paul I, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Chelsea Physic Garden, William Aiton (head gardener of Kew Gardens), Sir James Edward Smith (founder of the Linnean Society) and others.

 

William Roscoe wrote of him:

“John Fraser brought more plants into this Kingdom than any other person.”

 

Fraser was hailed early on by his biographers as “one of the most enterprising, indefatigable, and persevering men that ever embarked in the cause of botany and natural science.”

 

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John Graefer (or Johann Andreas Graeffer)(1746 – 1802) was a German botanist nurseryman born in Helmstedt.

Graefer is remembered by garden historians as having introduced a number of exotic plants to British gardens and to have worked for the King of Naples at the Palace of Caserta.

Trained by Philip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, one of the most prominent botanical gardens of Europe during the 18th century, Graeffer was subsequently gardener to the Earl of Coventry at Croome Court, Worcestershire, which was being landscaped by Capability Brown, and then to James Vere, of Kensington Gore, a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society.

 

Weddings at Chelsea Physic Garden, wedding venue in London ...

 

Graeffer struck out on his own as a partner with Archibald Thompson and the prominent nurseryman James Gordon in Gordon’s long-established Mile End nursery near the New Globe, Stepney, just beyond the East End of London.

After Gordon’s retirement and his death in 1780, the nursery at Mile End was inherited by Gordon’s three sons.

 

In August 1781, it was reported in L’ésprit des Journaux, that MM Grœffer et Bessel had been issued a royal patent (dated 30 December 1780) for their preparation of cooked and preserved vegetables for the Royal Navy and the use of those on sea voyages.

 

Real Dried vegetables Slices specimen pressed dried vegetables ...

 

It was the first recorded patent for preserving vegetables by drying them.

 

For that purpose, it was reported, they had purchased 200 arpents of land near the “nouvelle Globe“, Mile End, for plantings, which appears to be Gordon’s long-established plant nursery.

The patent was issued for preserving “a vegetable of the Brassica kind, generally known by the name of green and brown borecole, scotch or other kale with a salt solution and drying so it will keep for up to a year.

 

Brassica rapa plant.jpg

 

Among Graeffer’s introductions to British horticulture by far the most familiar was the variegated form of Aucuba japonica, the loved and loathed “Spotted Laurel” of gardens, which he introduced to British horticulture in 1783, at first as a plant for a heated greenhouse.

It became widely cultivated as the “Gold Plant” by 19th century gardeners.

 

Aucuba japonica Gold Dust NBG LR.jpg

 

According to John Claudius Loudon, Graeffer was also responsible for the introduction of Pyrus bollwylleriana, the Bollwyller pear (later called Shipova), and Pyrus baccata (later called Malus baccata), the Siberian wild crab apple.

 

Shipova fruit.jpg

 

Malus-baccata.JPG

 

Another of his introductions was Sideroxylon melanophloeos (later called Rapanea melanophloeos), the Cape beech from the Cape Province, 1784.

 

Rapanea melanophloeos00.jpg

 

Not all his introductions took:

 

In 1783 Graeffer introduced Fumaria nobilis (fumewort : smoke of the Earth), a little alpine plant native to the Altai in Siberia, but it was subsequently lost to horticulture and reintroduced.

 

Fumaria.jpg

 

He catalogued 80 species of plants suitable for rock gardens in 1789.

 

Graham Stuart Thomas who knew the 1794 edition, found it “certainly the first ‘quick reference’ book on alpines that I have come across:

He gives full particulars of descriptions and cultivation in a tabulated list.

I think he was entitled to claim:

‘The author proposes in his use of his great variety of herbaceous plants a more constant and uniform and gay attraction of gardens than has been hitherto pointed out or adopted’“.

 

Graham Stuart Thomas.jpg

Above: Graham Stuart Thomas (1909 – 2003)

 

Graeffer also issued A Descriptive Catalogue of Upwards of Eleven Hundred Species and Varieties of Herbaceous Or Perennial Plants that same year.

 

A Descriptive Catalogue of Upwards of Eleven Hundred Species and ...

 

Miller was replaced as Head Gardener in 1771 by William Forsyth, one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society, who among other notable achievements at the Garden, created the Pond Rockery, which today stands as the oldest rock garden in Europe.

 

Taking my medicine at the Chelsea Physic Garden – Clare Gleeson

 

William Forsyth (1737 – 1804) was a Scottish botanist.

He was a royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society.

A genus of flowering plants, Forsythia, is named in his honour.

William Forsyth. Stipple engraving by S. Freeman. Wellcome M0013596.jpg

 

Forsyth was born at Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire, and trained as a gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden as a pupil of Philip Miller, the chief gardener.

He took over the chief gardening position in 1771 and became a mentor to John Fraser.

 

Photo of Chelsea Physic Garden, London | Garden, London, Garden bridge

 

In 1784, he was appointed superintendent of the royal gardens at Kensington and St James’s Palace, a position he kept until his death.

 

In 1774 he created one of the first rock gardens while curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

His garden consisted of 40 tons of assorted stone collected from the roadside outside of the Tower of London, some flint and chalk from nearby downland, and some pieces of lava collected from Iceland.

The garden failed to produce much serious growth.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden – Visit Gardens

 

Forsyth created a ‘plaister‘ in 1789 made of lime, dung, ashes, soapsuds, urine and other various components that was claimed to cure defects in trees and heal “where nothing remained but the bark.”

He received a grant of 1,500 pounds from the British Parliament to continue the creation of the plaister, as the nation was at war in 1789 with Napoleon and needed sound timber to build ships, as much of the Royal Forests were in poor condition.

 

sea-glasses: aesthetic // nature | Forest wallpaper, Sherwood ...

 

Alexander Anderson (1748 – 1811) was a Scottish surgeon and botanist.

Anderson studied at the University of Edinburgh.

Fellow Aberdonian William Forsyth briefly employed him at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, prior to Anderson’s emigration to New York in 1774, where he stayed with his brother John, a printer.

He was appointed in 1785 superintendent of the government botanic garden at St. Vincent (an island in the Caribbean), where he showed much activity.

He was a correspondent of Sir Joseph Banks, through whom he contributed to the Royal Society in 1789 an account of a bituminous (asphalt) lake on St. Vincent, which was afterwards published in the Philosophical Transactions for that year.

In 1791 he went into Guiana on a botanising expedition.

The plants he obtained and sent to Banks are now in the herbarium of the British Museum.

 

Alexander Anderson botanist.jpg

 

William Curtis (1746 – 1799) was an English botanist and entomologist, who was born at Alton, Hampshire, site of the Curtis Museum.

Curtis began as an apothecary, before turning his attention to botany and other natural history.

The publications he prepared effectively reached a wider audience than early works on the subject had intended.

At the age of 25 he produced Instructions for collecting and preserving insects; particularly moths and butterflies.

 

 

Curtis was demonstrator of plants and Praefectus Horti at the Chelsea Physic Garden from 1771 to 1777.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden

 

He established his own London Botanic Garden at Lambeth in 1779, moving to Brompton in 1789.

He published Flora Londinensis (6 volumes, 1777–1798), a pioneering work in that it devoted itself to urban nature.

 

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Financial success was not found, but he went on the publish The Botanical Magazine in 1787, a work that would also feature hand coloured plates by artists such as James Sowerby and Sydenham Edwards.

Curtis was to gain wealth from the ventures into publishing, short sales on Londinensis were offset by over 3,000 copies of the magazine.

Curtis said they had each brought ‘pudding or praise‘.

The genus Curtisia is named in his honour.

 

Curtisia dentata - Assegai tree top canopy - Table Mountain 3.JPG

Above: Curtisia (Assegai tree)

 

His publication was continued as the esteemed botanical publication, Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

The noted natural history illustrators, James Sowerby and Sydenham Edwards both found a start with the eminent magazine.

 

Curtis' - title page serie 3 (vol 71, 1845 ).jpg

 

He is commemorated in a stained glass window at St. Mary’s Church, Battersea, as many of his samples were collected from the churchyard there.

 

William Curtis, Jane's Apoth'y - Quickstep Travel Guide

 

 

Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet (1743 – 1820) was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences.

 

Joseph Banks 1773 Reynolds.jpg

 

Banks made his name on the 1766 natural-history expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Banks took part in Captain James Cook’s first great voyage (1768–1771), visiting Brazil, Tahiti, and after six months in New Zealand and Australia, returning to immediate fame.

 

 

Banks advised King George III on the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, and by sending botanists around the world to collect plants, he made Kew the world’s leading botanical gardens.

He is credited for bringing 30,000 plant specimens home with him.

Amongst them, he discovered 1,400.

 

Kew royalbritannicgardens logo.png

 

Banks advocated British settlement in New South Wales and colonisation of Australia, as well as the establishment of Botany Bay as a place for the reception of convicts, and advised the British government on all Australian matters.

He is credited with introducing the eucalyptus, acacia, and the genus named after him, Banksia, to the Western world.

 

Banksia in the Blue Mountains.jpg

 

Around 80 species of plants bear his name.

 

He was the leading founder of the African Association – dedicated to the exploration of West Africa, with the mission of discovering the origin and course of the Niger River and the location of Timbuktu, the “lost city” of gold – effectively the “beginning of the age of African exploration” – and a member of the Society of Dilettanti – a British society of noblemen and scholars that sponsors the study of ancient Greek and Roman art and the creation of new work in the style –  which helped to establish the Royal Academy.

 

 

Banks worked with Chelsea’s head gardener and curator John Fairbairn from 1780 to 1814.

Fairbairn specialized in growing and cultivating plants from around the world.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden — Catkin

 

The early 1800s were challenging times for the Garden as the Apothecaries’ attention was focused on preserving their own future as an institution.

By the 1830s they had changed their own access requirements and made the site available to all medical students and lecturers in London, not just their own apprentices.

Overseeing the site during this difficult period between 1815 to 1846 was William Anderson.

He managed the Garden on a greatly reduced budget but ran into conflict with John Lindley who was appointed Praefectus Horti (Demonstrator of Plants) in 1836.

 

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Henry Field (1755 – 1837) was an English apothecary.

 

Ex Libris Crest Bookplate. Henry Field (Apothecary) 18th c ...

The eldest son of John Field, an apothecary with an extensive practice on Newgate Street, London, and his wife, Anne, daughter of Thomas Cromwell, grocer and a grandson of Henry Cromwell, lord deputy of Ireland.

Henry succeeded his father in his profession, and in 1807 was elected apothecary to Christ’s Hospital, a post which he continued to fill until within a short time of his death.

 

 

As a member of the Society of Apothecaries, Field promoted its interests.

Field gave with Joseph Hurlock  (1715 – 1793) free courses of lectures on materia medica (history of pharmacy) at their hall to the apprentices and students, which resulted in the regular establishment of lectures by the Society.

 

 

In 1815 his efforts helped obtain the Act of Parliament which enforced an examination into the education and professional attainments of candidates for practising as an apothecary in England and Wales.

 

Palace of Westminster - Wikipedia

 

Field also filled for a long period the office of deputy-treasurer, and later of treasurer, of the branch of the affairs of the Society of Apothecaries originally instituted for the supply of the members of their own body with genuine drugs and medicines, but which ultimately extended to the service of the navy, the East India Company, and the general public.

 

Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg

 

In 1831 Field was nominated by Sir Henry Halford, 1st Baronet, on the part of the General Board of Health, as one of the medical officers attached to the City of London Board of Health for the adoption of precautions against the threatened outbreak of cholera in the metropolis.

In common with his colleagues Field afterwards received the thanks of the corporation and a piece of plate.

 

Above: Henry Halford (1766 – 1844)

 

Field was also for many years the treasurer of the London Annuity Society for the benefit of the widows of apothecaries, in Chatham Place, Blackfriars, of which institution his father was the founder in 1765.

Field’s portrait, by Henry William Pickersgill, was hung at Apothecaries’ Hall.

Another, by Samuel Lane, was painted for the London Annuity Society.

 

Besides contributing professional remarks to medical journals, Field wrote a history of the Chelsea Physic Garden: Memoirs, historical and illustrative, of the Botanick Garden at Chelsea, belonging to the Society of Apothecaries of London, in 1820.

It was printed at the expense of the Society, to whom the manuscript had been presented.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden." | Catalogue search | Wellcome Collection

 

Meanwhile, Anderson’s conflict with Lindley continued.

He wanted the Garden to be a collection of medicinal plants.

Lindley won the battle and Anderson was eventually replaced in 1846 by the renowned and prolific plant hunter Robert Fortune.

Although Fortune’s tenure at the Garden was little more than two years he made sweeping changes including the new Order Beds, Glasshouses and the Tank Pond which remain to this day.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden, Fortune's Tank... © David Smith cc-by-sa ...

 

Robert Fortune (1812 – 1880) was a Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveller, best known for introducing around 250 new ornamental plants, mainly from China, but also Japan, into the gardens of Britain, Australia, and the US.

He also played a role in the development of the tea industry in India in the 19th century.

 

The Great British Tea Heist | History | Smithsonian Magazine

 

After completing his apprenticeship, Fortune was then employed at Moredun House, just to the south of Edinburgh, before moving on to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

In 1840, Fortune and his family moved to London to take up a position at the Horticultural Society of London’s garden at Chiswick.

 

Following the Treaty of Nanking, in 1843 Fortune was commissioned by the HS to undertake a three year plant collection expedition to southern China.

His travels resulted in the introduction to Europe, Australia and the US of many new, exotic, beautiful flowers and plants.

 

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His most famous accomplishment was the successful theft of Chinese tea plants (Camellia sinensis) from China to India in 1848 on behalf of the British East India Company.

 

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Robert Fortune worked in China for several years in the period from 1843 to 1861.

 

A Journey to the Tea Countries of China : Robert Fortune ...

 

Similar to other European travellers of the period, such as Walter Medhurst, Fortune disguised himself as a Chinese merchant during several, but not all, of his journeys beyond the newly established treaty port areas.

 

Robert Fortune , the British tea spy botanist

 

Not only was Fortune’s purchase of tea plants reportedly forbidden by the Chinese government of the time, but his travels were also beyond the allowable day’s journey from the European treaty ports.

 

ZS177: Robert Fortune, Botaniker und Teespion – Zeitsprung ...

 

Fortune travelled to some areas of China that had seldom been visited by Europeans, including remote areas of Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces.

 

Above: The remote Wuyi Mountains in Fujian Province, one of the important tea regions to which Fortune travelled.

 

Fortune employed many different means to obtain plants and seedlings from local tea growers, reputedly the property of the Chinese empire, although this was some 150 years before international biodiversity laws recognised state ownership of such natural resources.

It is also widely reported that Fortune took skilled workers on contract to India who would facilitate the production of tea in the plantations of the East India Company.

 

The Great British Tea Heist | History | Smithsonian Magazine

 

With the exception of a few plants which survived in established Indian gardens, most of the Chinese tea plants Fortune introduced in the north-western provinces of India perished.

The other reason for the failure in India was that the British preference and fashion was for a strong dark tea brew, which was best made from the local Assam subspecies and not the selection that Fortune had made in China.

Assam-Tee SFTGFOP1.jpg

 

The technology and knowledge that was brought over from China was, however, instrumental in the later flourishing of the Indian tea industry in Assam and Sri Lanka.

In subsequent journeys Fortune visited Formosa (modern day Taiwan) and Japan, and described the culture of the silkworm and the manufacture of rice.

 

Pairedmoths.jpg

 

Fortune introduced many trees, shrubs and flowers to the West, including the cumquat, a climbing double yellow rose (‘Fortune’s Double Yellow‘ (or Gold of Ophir) which proved a failure in England’s climate) and many varieties of tree peonies, azaleas and chrysanthemums.

 

Kumquat.jpeg

 

A climbing white rose that he brought back from China in 1850, believed to be a natural cross between Rosa laevigata and Rosa banksiae, was dubbed Rosa fortuniana (or Rosa fortuneana) in his honour.

This rose, too, proved a failure in England, preferring warmer climates.

Today, both of these roses are still widely grown by antique rose fanciers in mild winter regions.

Rosa fortuniana also serves as a valuable rootstock in Australia and the southern regions of the United States.

 

Pin on Roses To Frame

 

The incidents of his travels were related in a succession of books.

He died in London in 1880 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.

Robert Fortune Image 2

Financial and managerial difficulties have beset the Garden since its inception and the mid to late 1800s were no different.

The Garden became embattled on every front with the creation of the Embankment cutting it off from the River Thames, the threat of a rail line running through it and the Apothecaries struggling to manage it.

Thomas Moore took over from Fortune in 1848 and and was forced to run the Garden on an ever smaller budget.

By 1850 financial difficulties and other challenges led the Apothecaries to attempt to relinquish the Garden to one of the institutions determined by Sloane in his covenant.

They were not successful.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Eintritt im London Pass enthalten

 

 

Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791 – 1868) was an English doctor who popularised a case for growing and transporting plants which was called the Wardian case.

 

Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward - Wikipedia

 

Ward was born in London to Stephen Smith Ward, a medical doctor.

Little is known of his early years and family life, but he is believed to have been sent to Jamaica at the age of 13 where he may have taken an interest in plants.

He practised medicine in a poor area of the East End of London and took an interest in botany and entomology in his spare time or when on vacation in Cobham, Kent.

 

Tytler Whittle in his book, The Plant Hunters, describes the area where he lived:

What is known is that Wellclose Square, that part of dockland where he lived, was a Sherlock Holmes sort of place; not exactly producing lepers, abominable lascars and wicked Chinamen, but giving that impression all the same.

And had Holmes and Watson been acquainted with their contemporary, Dr. Nathaniel Ward, undoubtedly they would have admired his scientific method of observing and deducing.

 

Plant Hunters: Being an Examination of Collecting, with an Account ...

 

Ward qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London in 1814.

 

Ward first noticed the effects of a hermetically sealed glass container in 1829.

He had placed a chrysalis of a sphinx moth in damp soil at the bottom of a bottle and covered it with a lid.

A week later he noticed that a fern and grass seedling had sprouted from the soil.

His interest piqued, he saw that evaporated moisture condensed on the walls of the bottle during the day and ran back down into the soil towards evening, maintaining a constant humidity.

The glass case that he used to rear butterflies and grow plants was used widely during the time for introducing plants into the British colonies.

His first experiments with plants inside glass cases started in 1830.

 

Urban Legends: Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, inventor of the Wardian ...

 

In 1833 George Loddiges (1786 – 1846) used Wardian cases for shipping plants from Australia and said that “whereas I used formerly to lose nineteen out of the twenty of the plants I imported during the voyage, nineteen out of the twenty is now the average of those that survive”.

Loddiges was the vice-president of the Horticultural Society and Wardian cases became popular.

 

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Ward attempted to make a greenhouse at the Clapham garden on the principle of the Wardian case.

 

Urban Legends: Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, inventor of the Wardian ...

 

This was however critiqued by fellow botanist John Lindley (1799 – 1865) in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, who wrote that “when it is opened and shut from day to day, it has no more right to the name of Wardian case than a common greenhouse”.

Lindley also wrote saying that Ward had an inordinate vanity and a desire to be “recognised as a second Newton”.

 

John Lindley - Wikipedia

 

Dr Ward delivered a lecture on his discovery of a way to preserve plants in 1854 to the Royal Society at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

He also worked on microscopy and helped in the development of the Chelsea Physic Garden as a member of the board.

 

On The Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases: Ward, Nathaniel ...

 

In 1877, the number of medical students regularly visiting the Garden leapt from a few hundred in previous years to 3,500.

The sudden rise in numbers was largely due to the Apothecaries allowing women to study medicine for the first time in their history.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Lady Victoria Marjorie Harriet als ...

 

Lilian Clarke (1866–1934) was a botany teacher at James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich, South London from 1896 to 1926, where she developed botanical gardens, which became known as ‘The Botany Gardens‘.

 

James Allen’s Girl’s School (JAGS).jpg

 

At the age of 19 she was awarded the Society of Apothecaries gold medal for her botanical studies undertaken at Chelsea Physic Garden and completed her BSc. Degree in 1893, after studying botany under Professor F.W. Oliver at University College London.

 

Entrance to Apothecaries' Hall

 

Clarke become a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, elected in one of the first groups of women Fellows during the period 1904–1905, following the announcement to admit women and she was also active in the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

 

The Linnean Society.png

 

In 1917 the degree of Doctor of Science, for a thesis on the botanical education she had developed at James Allen’s Girls’ School, was conferred on Clarke by the University of London.

The Botany Gardens were an outdoor laboratory, the first such at a school in the UK, where subjects such as plant growth and pollination could be observed.

 

Clarke encouraged her pupils to make their own books rather than use textbooks.

 

When the ecology of plants took precedence over knowledge of ‘the natural orders‘ in examinations, Clarke, supported by the eminent British ecologist Arthur George Tansley, created a new series of beds in her garden to replicate examples of British habitats, such as salt marsh and pebble beach.

 

(Sir Arthur George Tansley (1871 – 1955) was an English botanist and a pioneer in the science of ecology.

He was a pioneer of the science of ecology in Britain, being heavily influenced by the work of Danish botanist Eugenius Warming, and introduced the concept of the ecosystem into biology.

Tansley was a founding member of the first professional society of ecologists, the Central Committee for the Survey and Study of British Vegetation, which later organised the British Ecological Society, and served as its first president and founding editor of the Journal of Ecology.

Tansley also served as the first chairman of the British Nature Conservancy.)

 

Arthur-Tansley-1893.jpg

Above: Arthur Tansley

 

The support of William Hales, curator of Chelsea Physic Garden from 1899-1937 to Clarke is recorded in her publication, The Botany Gardens Of The James Allen’s Girls’ School, Dulwich: Their History And Organisation, published by the London Board of Education.

Clarke describes the plants at the edge of the pond:

Forget-Me-Knots, Brooklime, Musk, Water-Mint, Yellow Iris, Water Plantain, Arrowhead, etc.

A little farther in are partially submerged plants such as Water Lilies, Floating Pondweed, and totally submerged plants such as Elodea.

Some of the pond plants were given by Mr. Hales, Curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden, to whom many thanks are due for valuable help in designing the pond and in other matters.

— Clarke
Taking my medicine at the Chelsea Physic Garden – Clare Gleeson

Clarke goes on to say that:

‘The pond has proved a great success and of the utmost value in our lessons.”

 

Event - An exclusive botanical and art history day in Cambridge ...

 

Significantly, for contemporary botanical educators, Clarke also stated, in a book published posthumously, that the gardens ‘have become, in many cases, out-of-door laboratories, and the work indoors and out of doors is one.’

Clarke communicated with representatives of the professional botanical community and worked hard to be visible in the wider scientific milieu of her time.

 

Botany As An Experimental ScienceIn Laboratory And Garden.: Lilian ...

 

By 1895 the Apothecaries had decided that they no loger needed the Garden as the study of plants had been dropped from the medical syllabus.

The Garden’s future was again in peril but in 1899 a solution was found in the form of the City Parochial Foundation.

The charity took over running the Garden with a new remit to support students studying botany in London.

William Hales oversaw the Garden at this time and reorganized the Order Beds, installed the Glasshouses (which remains today) and made other improvements, financed by selling off a strip of land to the north of the site.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden awarded £172,500 grant for glasshouse ...

 

The Garden’s role shifted again in the 1820s as it took on important agricultural research work, including developing winter wheat yield and disease resistance in potatoes.

This continued until the 1970s when the Agricultural Research Council relocated their trials and laboratories.

The Garden was still sending plant specimens to universities and colleges, but these institutions steadily began growing their own.

 

Free Royal Wedding Party at the Chelsea Physic Garden | A Little Bird

 

By the late 1970s the City Parochial Foundation was considering withdrawing from the Garden, so a symposium on its future was held.

None of the institutions noted by Sloane were able to take over the Garden leading to a fresh crisis.

Employees, friends and associates of the Garden rallied, raising significant reserve funds and creating the registered charity, Chelsea Physic Garden Company, in 1984.

Visitor numbers increased rapidly from this point as the “secret garden” was finally available to the wider public.

 

English Garden of the Week - Chelsea Physic Garden - The English ...

 

The last three decades have seen the Garden develop its role as a conservator and demonstrator of medicinal, useful and economically important plants.

Today, the collection totals some 5,000 plants including endangered and unusual species rarely seen elsewhere.

Notable among the plants that benefit from the Garden’s unique microclimate are the UK’s largest outdoor fruiting olive and grapefruit trees, and a five meter tall pomegranate.

 

Jack Wallington on Twitter: "We saw lots of pomegranate trees at ...

 

The Garden still provides services to a number of research institutions and runs its own horticultural trainee programme and courses along with welcoming some 3,000 school children and 50,000 visitors a year.

Five gardeners and two trainees tend the site year-round, assisted by loyal volunteers who work as guides, gardeners, event organizers, seed processors, education assistants and growers.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Judas tree, Garden, Medicinal plants

 

Seasonal events such as the Christmas Fair and Snowdrop Openings, along with numerous other activities in the Garden, are also supported by our volunteer teams.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair | The List

 

Regular visits reveal the sites’ ever-changing flora, temporary exhibitions, seasonal show gardens and extraordinary plants that only bloom for a matter of days before disappearing below ground until the following year.

The role fulfilled by this small riverside botanic garden may have evolved over the centuries but today,as in the past, education is always at its heart.

 

Snowdrop days at the Chelsea Physic Garden - Lingua Holidays

 

The Garden is divided into 12 sections:

  • the Garden of Medicinal Plants
    • the Garden of World Medicine (with medicinal plants arranged by the culture which uses them)
    • the Pharmaceutical Garden (with plants arranged according to the ailment they are used to treat)
  • the Pond Rockery
  • the Dicotyledon Order Beds
  • the Atlantic Island Collection
  • the Garden of Edible Plants
  • the British Natives
  • the Garden of Useful Plants
  • the South American Plants section
  • the World Woodland Garden
  • the Monocotyledon Order Beds
  • the History Beds
  • Glasshouses

 

Map of Chelsea Physic Garden | Freed From Time

 

In the Garden of Medicinal Plants, where the Garden began and its raison d’être, for when the Chelsea Physic Garden was established in 1673 its role was to provide a living medicine chest in which young apothecaries could learn to identify key medicinal plants.

Throughout the centuries that role has evolved but to this day medicinal students still visit the Garden, now to learn about the history of plant-based medicine.

In this section the visitor can see over 400 medicinal plants of the past, present and future on display, with three beds dedicated to modern herbal remedies as well as an area of plants which the Apothecaries would have grown in the 17th and 18th centuries.

 

medicinal plants | Decorator's Notebook blog

 

Here one learns how Ricinus communis (the castor oil plant) is widely distributed as a source of castor oil and the toxin ricin.

 

Ricinus March 2010-1.jpg

 

The name Ricinus is a Latin word for tick.

The seed is so named because it has markings and a bump at the end that resemble certain ticks.

The common name “castor oil” comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver (castor in Latin).

It has another common name, palm of Christ, or Palma Christi, that derives from castor oil’s reputed ability to heal wounds and cure ailments.

 

 

Its seed is the castor bean, which, despite its name, is not a true bean.

 

 

Castor is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, but is widespread throughout tropical regions (and widely grown elsewhere as an ornamental plant).

 

 

Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses.

The seeds contain between 40% and 60% oil that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein.

The seed also contains ricin, a water-soluble toxin, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant.

 

 

Castor oil has many uses in medicine and other applications.

 

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It can protect the liver from damage from certain poisons and there are antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties to be found in ethanolic extracts of the Ricinus communis root bark.

 

Extracts of Ricinus communis can kill ticks and mosquitoes.

 

Members of the Bodo tribe of Bodoland in Assam, India, use the leaves of this plant to feed and rear the larvae of muga and endi silkworms.

 

 

Ricinus communis is the host plant of the common castor butterfly (Ariadne merione), the eri silkmoth (Samia cynthia ricini), and the castor semi-looper moth (Achaea janata).

It is also used as a food plant by the larvae of some other species.

 

Muga silk mekhalas with jaapi

 

Castor oil is an effective motor lubricant and has been used in internal combustion engines, including those of World War I airplanes, some racing cars and some model airplanes.

It has historically been popular for lubricating two-stroke engines due to high resistance to heat compared to petroleum-based oils.

It does not mix well with petroleum products, particularly at low temperatures, but mixes better with the methanol-based fuels used in glow model engines.

In total-loss-lubrication applications, it tends to leave carbon deposits and varnish within the engine.

It has been largely replaced by synthetic oils that are more stable and less toxic.

 

 

Jewelry is often made of castor beans, particularly necklaces and bracelets.

 

The castor bean necklace

 

The toxicity of raw castor beans is due to the presence of ricin.

Although the lethal dose in adults is considered to be four to eight seeds, reports of actual poisoning are relatively rare.

 

According to the Guinness World Records, this is the world’s most poisonous common plant.

 

Guinness World Records logo.svg

 

Symptoms of overdosing on ricin, which can include nausea, diarrhea, tachycardia, hypotension and seizures, persist for up to a week.

 

3205 - Milano, Duomo - Giorgio Bonola - Miracolo di Marco Spagnolo (1681) - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto, 6-Dec-2007-cropped.jpg

 

However, the poison can be extracted from castor by concentrating it with a fairly complicated process similar to that used for extracting cyanide from almonds.

 

Raw Almonds (No Shell) - By the Pound - Nuts.com

If ricin is ingested, symptoms commonly begin within 2–4 hours, but may be delayed by up to 36 hours.

These include a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, abdominal pain, purging and bloody diarrhea.

Within several days there is severe dehydration, a drop in blood pressure and a decrease in urine.

Unless treated, death can be expected to occur within 3–5 days.

 

Ricin

 

However, in most cases a full recovery can be made.

 

Poisoning occurs when animals, including humans, ingest broken castor beans or break the seed by chewing:

Intact seeds may pass through the digestive tract without releasing the toxin.

The toxin provides the castor oil plant with some degree of natural protection from insect pests such as aphids.

 

ayhan on Twitter: "What the FUCK. Ricin victims are likely to ...

 

Ricin has been investigated for its potential use as an insecticide.

The castor oil plant is also the source for undecylenic acid, a natural fungicide.

 

Commercially available cold-pressed castor oil is not toxic to humans in normal doses, either internal or externally.

 

Castor Oil – Aussie Candle Supplies

 

Ricin, a lectin (a carbohydrate-binding protein) produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant, Ricinus communis, is a highly potent toxin.

 

A dose of purified ricin powder the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human.

 

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Ricinus is extremely allergenic and has an OPALS (Ogren Plant Allergy Scale – an allergy rating system for plants that measures the potential of a plant to cause allergic reactions in humans) rating of 10 out of 10.

 

OPALS™ Ratings - Allergy Friendly Plants

 

The plant is also a very strong trigger for asthma and allergies to Ricinus are commonplace and severe.

The castor oil plant produces abundant amounts of very light pollen, which easily become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, triggering allergic reactions.

The sap of the plant causes skin rashes.

Individuals who are allergic to the plant can also develop rashes from merely touching the leaves, flowers, or seeds.

 

 

Ricin has been involved in a number of incidents.

 

In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously shot him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg.

He died in a hospital a few days later and his body was passed to a special poison branch of the British Ministry of Defence that discovered the pellet during an autopsy.

The prime suspects were the Bulgarian secret police:

Georgi Markov had defected from Bulgaria some years previously and had subsequently written books and made radio broadcasts that were highly critical of the Bulgarian communist regime.

However, it was believed at the time that Bulgaria would not have been able to produce the pellet, and it was also believed that the KGB had supplied it.

The KGB denied any involvement, although high-profile KGB defectors Oleg Kalugin and Oleg Gordievsky have since confirmed the KGB’s involvement.

 

Poison has long history as weapon of murder

 

Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008) also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after an encounter in 1971 with KGB agents.

 

Solzhenitsyn in 1974

 

Ten days before the attack on Georgi Markov another Bulgarian defector, Vladimir Kostov, survived a similar attack.

Kostov was standing on an escalator of the Paris Metro when he felt a sting in his lower back above the belt of his trousers.

He developed a fever, but recovered.

After Markov’s death the wound on Kostov’s back was examined and a ricin-laced pellet identical to the one used against Markov was removed.

 

10 Deadliest Poisons Known to Man

 

Several terrorists and terrorist groups have experimented with ricin and caused several incidents of the poisons being mailed to US politicians.

For example, on 29 May 2013, two anonymous letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained traces of it.

 

How Mike Bloomberg makes and spends his $50 billion fortune ...

 

Another was sent to the offices of Mayors Against Illegal Guns in Washington DC.

 

Mayor Murray joins Mayors Against Illegal Guns, national ...

 

A letter containing ricin was also alleged to have been sent to American President Barack Obama at the same time.

Actress Shannon Richardson was later charged with the crime, to which she pleaded guilty that December.

On 16 July 2014, Richardson was sentenced to 18 years in prison plus a restitution fine of $367,000.

 

Barack Obama – Wikipedia

 

Actress who tried to set up hubby is busted for ricin letters to ...

 

On 2 October 2018, two letters suspected of containing ricin were sent to The Pentagon:

  • one addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • the other to Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson.

 

Pentagon announces Defense Production Act to boost coronavirus ...

 

A letter was received on 23 July 2019 at Pelican Bay State Prison in California which claimed to contain a suspicious substance.

Authorities later confirmed it contained ricin.

No detrimental exposures were identified.

 

Aerial shot of Pelican Bay State Prison, taken 27-July-2009.jpg

 

In 2020, some media in the Czech Republic reported (based on intelligence information) that a person carrying a Russian diplomatic passport and ricin had arrived in Prague with an intention to assassinate three politicians, however Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, called it fake.

The targets should have been:

  • Zdeněk Hřib, the mayor of Prague (capital of the Czech Republic), who was involved in renaming the Prague’s square “Pod Kaštany”, where the Russian Embassy is situated, to the Square of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician assassinated in the Kremlin in 2015.
  • Ondřej Kolář, the mayor of the Prague 6 municipality, who was involved in removing the controversial statue to the Soviet-era Marshal Konev.
  •  Pavel Novotný, the mayor of Prague’s southwestern Řeporyje district.

All three politicians received police protection.

 

Things to See in Prague - The Best Places to Visit - Amazing Czechia

 

Ricin has been used as a plot device, such as in the television series Breaking Bad.

The popularity of Breaking Bad inspired several real-life criminal cases involving ricin or similar substances.

 

A green montage with the name "Breaking Bad" written on it—the "Br" in "Breaking" and the "Ba" in "Bad" are denoted by the chemical symbols for bromine and barium

 

Kuntal Patel from London attempted to poison her mother with abrin (a toxin similar to ricin, but found in rosary peas) after the latter interfered with her marriage plans.

 

Breaking Bad inspired computer geek bought enough ricin to kill ...

 

Daniel Milzman, a 19-year-old former Georgetown University student, was charged with manufacturing ricin in his dorm room, as well as the intent of “using the ricin on another undergraduate student with whom he had a relationship“.

 

Killer searched for 'Breaking Bad' style poison before stabbing ...

 

Mohammed Ali from Liverpool, England was convicted after attempting to purchase 500 mg of ricin over the dark web from an undercover FBI agent.

He was sentenced on 18 September 2015 to eight years imprisonment.

 

Obsessed Breaking Bad fan jailed for buying enough ricin on Dark ...

 

Nonetheless, global castor seed production is around two million tons per year.

Leading producing areas are India (with over three-quarters of the global yield), China and Mozambique, and it is widely grown as a crop in Ethiopia.

 

Prime Global Capital Group Inc. - PGCG

 

Consider the Melaenca alternifolia, commonly known as tea tree, a species of tree or tall shrub in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.

 

Melaleuca armillaris.jpg

 

Endemic to Australia, it occurs in southeast Queensland and the north coast and adjacent ranges of New South Wales where it grows along streams and on swampy flats, and is often the dominant species where it occurs.

Tea tree has been used as an alternative medicinal treatment for almost a century in Australia.

Indigenous Australians of eastern inland areas use “tea trees” as a traditional medicine by inhaling the oils from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds.

They also sprinkle leaves on wounds, after which a poultice is applied.

In addition, tea tree leaves are soaked to make an infusion to treat sore throats or skin ailments.

 

Australian Aboriginal Flag.svg

 

Characteristic of the myrtle family Myrtaceae, it is used to distill essential oil.

It is the primary species for commercial production of tea tree oil (melaleuca oil), a topical antibacterial.

Tea tree oil is commonly used as a topical antiseptic agent because of its antimicrobial properties, especially in the treatment of acne.

It is also known to reduce inflammation and may be effective in the treatment of fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot.

Tea tree oil should not be ingested in large amounts due to its toxicity and may cause skin irritation if used topically in high concentrations.

No deaths have been reported in medical literature.

 

 

Let us look at the Digitalis purpurea (foxglove).

Digitalis purpurea (foxglove, common foxglove, purple foxglove or lady’s glove) is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family Plantaginaceae, native to and widespread throughout most of temperate Europe.

It is also naturalised in parts of North America and some other temperate regions.

The plants are well known as the original source of the heart medicine digoxin (also called digitalis or digitalin).

Due to the presence of the cardiac glycoside digitoxin, the leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant are all poisonous to humans and some animals and can be fatal if ingested.

Extracted from the leaves, this same compound, whose clinical use was pioneered by William Withering, is used as a medication for heart failure.

 

Digitalis purpurea LC0101.jpg

 

Again, a plant that can cure or kill.

 

Wander around and find yourself capitivated by facts fun and fantastic.

  • how the Garden’s specimen of Olea europea (olive tree) is the largest olive tree grown outdoors in Britain, though native to the Mediterranean
    • We eat the fruit of the olive tree and the wood is much-prized and durable, with a strong smell similar to bay rum, and is used for fine furniture and turnery (woodcrafting).

 

The Chelsea Physic Garden | Kris Waldherr Art and Words

 

  • the Ammi visnaga, a member of the carrot family, is a source of powerful muscle relaxants
    • Known by many common names, including toothpick plant, toothpick weedbisnaga, khella, or sometimes Bishop’s weed, it is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.
    • In Egypt, a tea made from the fruit of this species has been used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones.
    • Preparations of Ammi visnaga fruits have also been used for angina pectoris therapy – (Angina is chest pain or pressure due to not enough blood flow to the heart muscle.)

 

Ammi Visnaga (289632722).jpg

 

  • how extracts from the Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) are used to treat leukaemia
    • Catharanthus roseus, commonly known as bright eyes, Cape periwinkle, graveyard plant, Madagascar periwinkle, old maid, pink periwinkle, rose periwinkle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae.
    • It is native and endemic to Madagascar, but grown elsewhere as an ornamental and medicinal plant, a source of the drugs vincristine and vinblastine, used to treat cancer.
    • In the wild, C. roseus is an endangered plant – the main cause of decline is habitat destruction by slash and burn agriculture.
    • It is also, however, widely cultivated and is naturalised in subtropical and tropical areas of the world like Australia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
    • It is so well adapted to growth in Australia, that it is listed as a noxious weed in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and also in parts of eastern Queensland.
    • The species has long been cultivated for herbal medicine.
    • In Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) the extracts of its roots and shoots, though poisonous, are used against several diseases.
    • In traditional Chinese medicine, extracts from it have been used against numerous diseases, including diabetes, malaria and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

 

 

  • Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge, radium weed, cancer weed, or milkweed) is a species of Euphorbia, native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, where it typically grows in cultivated arable land, gardens, and other disturbed land.
    • Outside of its native range it is very widely naturalised and often invasive, including in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and other countries in temperate and subtropical regions.
    • The plant’s sap is toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue and has long been used as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions (rashes).
    • A pharmaceutical-grade gel from this plant has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of actinic keratosis (commonly called old age sores).
    • In Germany, recent studies have linked Euphorbia peplus with the virtual elimination of Bowen disease (a type of skin cancer).

 

E peplus.jpg

 

So much to learn, so much to discover, so much we never think about.

 

Modern medicine’s foundations are built upon the recommendations of healers and shamans, witch doctors and herbalists worldwide over the last 5,000 years.

We in the West think Western medicine is the end-all and be-all of our health care, but many of the first healing systems that were born in China and India continue to this day with traditional herbal medicine the only health care option for 80% of the world’s population.

 

 

In India, Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil) is used to treat sore throats, coughs and colds, while Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom) is administered for stomach issues.

 

ElettariaCardamomum.jpg

 

In the Orient, Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread) is used against diseases of the digestive tract.

 

Coptis occidentalis.jpg

 

In Africa, Agapanthus africanus (African lily) is used to aid speedy childbirth.

 

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The Pond Rockery, the oldest rockery in Europe, built in 1773, has numerous rare, endangered and unusual species from southern Europe and North Africa, and features stone from the Tower of London and basalt from Iceland.

 

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Here are saffron crocuses, calico Minoans, tubular Spanish foxglove, cliff dwelling purple gromwells, delicate spurge, White peonies, blue Cretan campanola, Egyptian shrubs, Moroccan pale blue squalls…..

 

And what is that?

What is that called?

And, oh, how exotic flora becomes!

 

Nightshade, sweet peas, weeping mulberry…..

 

Brugmansia lg.jpg

 

Who could have imagined…..

  • a flower that produces a red dye that was used to colour soldiers’ tunics scarlet?
  • a thorny tree that was the source of Christ’s crucifixion crown?
  • a twining vine that has silently twisted its way across Europe, Asia and Africa?
  • a plant so rare it began at this Garden?
  • tree poppies, red monocarp, pink candelabra, fine white haired sage?

 

Matilija poppy closeup.jpg

 

And consider what we consume…..

  • pickled capers, screw pine rice, dye pancakes, mustard, American ground nuts, Japanese ginger, South American tubers, muscat of Alexandria, rice, rice, baby…..

 

How to pickle capers at home | From the Grapevine

 

To be in Britain one must consider as well what is endemic to Britain:

  • the woodlander, viper’s bugloss, corncockle, field poppy, ox dye daisy, yellow waterlily, bog bean, sea kale and home to diverse wildlife such as toads, frogs, newts and dragonflies

 

PHI Essences - Common viper's bugloss / Natternkopf

 

That wicked weed, that slovenly shrub, that brilliant bush, that typical tree, that finicky flower…..

 

So much we see without seeing the possibilities inherant within them.

  • marigolds that can treat wounds and swelling and calm fevers
  • vervain that can combat jaundice and gout and stimulate lactation in new mothers
  • St. John’s wort, a strong anti-inflammatory that conquers back pain
  • China rose to treat menstrual disorder
  • Saffron used as a sedative or to induce sweating
  • Cloves used as an antiseptic and anaesthetic in dentistry
  • Hops useful for anxiety, insomnia and stomach pain
  • Opium as cough medicine
  • Ginger to keep you from coughing, farting or losing your breath
  • Garlic against leprosy and smallpox
  • Wild celery to help you pee and treat rheumatism and Arthritis
  • Mint to ease digestion
  • Rosemary to aid memory or to banish bad dreams
  • Aloe vera to soothe rashes and itches
  • And so on, and so on, and so on…..

 

TUI Deutschland GmbH - Reisebericht: Chelsea Physic Garden - Oase ...

 

Rarely do most of us consider that plants have been used throughout history to make music, art, perfume, buildings and consumables, along with species used to detoxicate the land, oxidate the air and celebrate different faiths.

  • plants that produce dyes, cotton cellulose used in cinema and photography until the 1980s, and roses for perfume…..
  • plants that produce fabric and rope and building material and edible oils and paper…..
  • plants that can clear radioactivity from the soil
  • plants commonly used in research
  • plants used in cosmetics
  • plants that produce edible fruit and seeds and leaves

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | London | United Kingdom | AFAR

 

So much diversity in infinite combinations…..

So many forms and features and functions…..

 

Since humans first walked on Earth, we have relied on the wealth of our woods to provide furniture, food, shelter, medicine, fire and tools.

 

How people get lost in the woods + what to do if it happens to you ...

 

Consider a visit to the glasshouses where one can see:

  • a tree found only on the remote island of St. Helena
  • the pride of Madiera that is highly attractive to bees and butterflies
  • chocolate – the food of the gods
  • coffee – the spark of life
  • red roots that remove bronchitis
  • Paraguayan perennials that are calorie free sweeteners used in a number of carbonated drinks
  • a cactus look-a-like that produces a sticky white latex
  • fern fronds that can be used as trail markers in the dark
  • edibles once deemed exotic (papaya, guava, pepper, banana)
  • staple crops like rice and cassava (this last is the world’s 5th most grown starchy food)
  • orchids that produce vanilla
  • the Kapok tree used for stuffing pillows…..

 

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And thanks to the Garden, many plants that are under threat in the wild due to relentless urbanization, agriculture, tourism and wildfires are here preserved both as exhibited plants as well as a gene bank of their seeds to ensure future survival.

 

7 secret city gardens to explore

 

The challenges faced by the world’s ever-expanding population make the Garden’s purpose stronger than ever as it strives to promote the conservation of plants and demonstrate the utter dependence we have upon them.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Medicinal plants, Garden, Garden plants

 

Sometimes we need a reminder of the fragility, the complexity, the wonder and the splendour of life to truly appreciate what we have.

And given a choice between a perambulation (a walk or a stroll) in a paradise and a visit from a virus, I think most of us prefer the former.

Perhaps it is the latter that forces ackowledgement and appreciation of the terrible beauty all around us…..

 

Chelsea Physic Garden

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / The Rough Guide to London / Rachel Howard and Bill Nash, Secret London: An Unusual Guide / Kathy Willis, Botanicum / Chelsea Physic Garden Guide

 

Canada Slim and the Magical Cactus

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Friday 10 April 2020 (Lockdown Day #24)

At present, we live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse intended.

Stores are shuttered.

Church services suspended.

My sources of employment closed.

My movements outside of the apartment discouraged and travels outside the country denied.

For three weeks this has been normal life across this land and in many other nations around the globe.

We struggle against a foe invisible and invincible and yet naively believe it can be conquered, for such is the indomitable spirit of man.

 

May You Live In Interesting Times Chinese Curse Apron | Spreadshirt

 

The Swiss government has extended the anti-corona virus restrictions in place for another week until 26 April, but it said it plans to examine an easing of measures at the end of the month.

The Covid-19 epidemic has spread widely in Switzerland but the speed at which it is spreading has slowed significantly in recent days, the government said on Wednesday.

 

Vier weitere Covid-19-Opfer in der Schweiz | Schweiz | Bote der ...

 

The measures put in place to combat the virus are being followed well by the public and are having the desired effect, according to President Simonetta Sommaruga and Interior Minister Alain Berset.

 

Largest Swiss flag in the world damaged by torrential rain in the ...

 

“After four weeks the situation has evolved favourably,” Berset told a news conference.

“So, we’ve decided to extend the measures until 26 April and to proceed to the first loosening of some measures in some sectors.”

 

Bilateralism is in our DNA' – interior minister - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

“We are on the right path, but we haven’t reached the finish line,” Sommaruga added.

 

Socialist Sommaruga Takes Over Swiss Presidency | Voice of America ...

 

A decision on the specific areas and measures to be relaxed will be presented on 16 April, the government said in a statement.

For the successful phase-out, certain requirements must be fulfilled, Berset explained.

These include a steady downward trend in number of new infections, hospitalisations and the death rate.

 

Covid-19: Zweiter Todesfall in der Schweiz | Kanton

Above: Covid-19 in Switzerland – red: infected / green: recovered / black: dead – just a week prior to the lockdown

 

Switzerland remains one of the countries most affected by the corona virus, with more than 22,500 positive tests and more than 850 deaths in a population of 8.5 million.

COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in Switzerland by Canton.svg

Above: The number of corona virus (Covid-19) cases in Switzerland broken down by cantons as of 9 April 2020 – the darker the canton, the more cases therein

 

Berset said virus case figures were still rising, but in recent days there had been fewer daily infections and the number of people needing hospital treatment had stabilised.

“We are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but discipline and patience is needed, especially during Easter when people must stay at home.

We must continue on this path for the next few weeks,” he declared.

 

Coronavirus in Switzerland: Number of cases rises above 260 - The ...

 

The Interior Minister stressed that the population must continue to respect social distancing and hygiene measures, which are being well implemented and are working.

“We need to maintain these measures.

This is the condition by which we will be able to return to normal progressively,” he declared.

 

Coronavirus

 

On 16 March, the government declared the corona virus pandemic an “extraordinary situation”, instituting a ban on all private and public events and ordering the closure of bars, restaurants, sports facilities and cultural spaces across the country.

Only businesses providing essential goods to the population – such as grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies, banks and post offices – are allowed to remain open.

On the education front, schools are also closed nationwide.

 

Bern in the time of coronavirus - SWI swissinfo.ch

Above: Bern, the capital of Switzerland, midday, midweek under lockdown

 

Switzerland could suffer its worst economic downturn on record, the government said on Wednesday, with the corona virus epidemic shrinking the economy by as much as 10.4% this year.

The scenario, far worse than the government’s previous forecast of a 1.5% contraction, would occur if there was a prolonged shutdown in Switzerland and as well as abroad, triggering bankruptcies and job cuts.

 

Cash-crazy Swiss get new 1,000 Swiss franc note - Reuters

 

Economic Affairs Minister Guy Parmelin told reporters in Bern that the economy had been shaken by the virus and restrictions introduced to keep it from spreading.

He said nearly a third of the country’s workforce was on short-time work and unemployed numbers were on the rise.

The scenarios are gloomy,” he told reporters.

The health impact of the corona virus has been a concern for the Swiss government, but so has the effect on the economy.

It’s important we all do everything so that people in this country can work, despite the virus.

 

The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research ...

 

Since I am not working I have a lot of leisure time on my hands.

It has often been said that a man’s character is best judged by not only what a job he does and how he performs in these duties, but as well a glimpse into who he really is can be observed by what he does with the time not devoted to an employer.

 

63 Beautiful Leisure Quotes And Sayings

 

For myself, I try to take a walk outside for at least one hour everyday, occasionally I do the odd household duty or bit of decluttering when fits of ambition strike or the regular reminders from the wife become too much to tolerate, and I try to maintain a regular schedule of writing.

Time to Write Wall Clock for writers by WonderfulWorldOfWords ...

My formerly frantic work schedule and my travels here, there and everywhere have found me falling behind in the writing of my blogs, especially this one that focuses on travels done before the actual calendar year in which these posts are written down.

Now I have time to write and the time to read.

 

To everything there is a season...

 

Of the latter, I, of course, try to keep au courant on current affairs both here in Switzerland and across the planet by reading news online and when possible from newspapers.

 

Man reading newspaper Royalty Free Vector Image

 

Though I am presently denied access to both bookstores and libraries, I do have in my possession my own burgeoning library that dominates our small apartment.

The guestroom bookshelves are burdened with works of fiction.

My study shelves hold books of and for teaching, history and politics, biography and autobiography, travel and travelogues, philosophy and psychology.

 

7 Ways to Fight Clutter - Critical Shots

 

Of books I am drawn to buying and reading I find myself fascinated by the lives and observations of creative types, especially writers.

Certainly I seek the secrets of their success in an attempt to duplicate or at least emulate their methods and madness.

What writers do in their leisure hours often is the inspiration for their imaginative output.

 

Daily Rituals

 

I think of other activities some people practice during their private leisure hours, especially those who are young or young at heart.

Many activities revolve around the delightful duality of distraction and pleasure: physical intimacy with a nearby beloved, watching marathon episodes of regular series, and the ingestion of various substances that create excitement or ease the mind.

 

Couple drinking red wine on beach - Stock Photo - Dissolve

 

Here in Switzerland, access to alcohol and cannabis is not difficult for those determined to indulge themselves in this fashion, though for many there is little joy in indulging in these alone at home.

 

Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know | NCCIH

 

I will not judge others who do indulge, except to say it is my hope that they consider the effects of what they take into their bodies.

What was kept me on the straight and narrow has been a lack of curiosity and peer pressure to experiment with substances with which I have had no previous experience.

But, that having been said, though I lack the courage to experiment on myself, there has always been an idle curiosity in learning how such experiments have affected others.

 

outside-looking-in | Source of Inspiration

 

Substances such as cocaine or heroin or others which cause distraction or delight have never piqued my curiosity, for the sole drugs with which I have any experience with – caffeine and alcohol – either wake me from slumber or cause me to sleep.

 

New Tabletops Unlimited Handpainted Ambrosia Tangerine Orange ...

 

I have no desire to ingest something which may cause me to lose self-control (at least publicly).

Where my curiosity is piqued – though lack of courage keeps me from trying such things myself – is when I learn of substances that are said to induce creativity and expand imagination.

 

Film - Curious George - Into Film

 

And it is this curiosity that makes me glad I only visited but don’t work at the Jardin de Cactus on the Canary Island of Lanzarote, for if I did I might be tempted to satisfy that curiosity…..

 

Lanzarote - Wikipedia

 

Guatiza, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, Monday 3 December 2018

Guatiza is light and shade and purpose.

The visitor is inevitably surprised on arriving at Guatiza, located 2 km from the east coast of Lanzarote, 8 km east of the town Teguise and 14 km northeast of the island capital Arrecife, to find a village like any other but surrounded by a sea of green.

 

Guatiza village on Lanzarote, June 2013 (1).jpg

 

There are 612 species of ferns and flowering plants that grow spontaneously in Lanzarote.

Most of these plants are native.

 

Phoenix canariensis CBMen 6.jpg

 

Among them, 93 are endemic to the Canary Islands, while 20 are considered exclusive to Lanzarote.

 

Spain Canary Islands location map Lanzarote.svg

 

Lanzarote’s endemic plant life may seem limited in comparison with the entire Canarian archipelago, in which there are 650 endemic species in about 7,200 square kilometres.

 

 

However, Lanzarote is rich and varied if compared to any European country, including Switzerland.

 

lanzarote detailed map | Voyage

 

For example, 100 endemic species exist in France (560,000 square kilometres), 16 exist in Great Britain (250,000 square kilometres) and only six in Germany (350,000 square kilometres).

 

Europe Map and Satellite Image

 

So, given this data, the importance of the islands’ flora is clear.

 

 

Vegetation on the Islands varies with the altitude and is conditioned by the constant flow of humid trade winds and the height of the island geography.

Lanzarote barely exceeds 600 metres above sea level at the summit of the oldest mountains.

Thus the winds generally pass over without releasing their moisture.

 

Hiking Trekking in Lanzarote. The beauty of nature.

 

In contrast to the forests found on the higher Canary Islands, Lanzarote offers the best examples of the sub-desert habitats of the Canary Basal Floor, meaning that Lanzarote’s vegetative covering is rather poor, due not only to the arid climate but also to overgrazing.

Today, the decline of farming and grazing, as well as increased public awareness and the protection of large areas of territory, is enabling the slow recovery of profoundly transformed plant communities.

The local scrub thorn (commonly referred to as maleza, in Spanish) is the island’s most common plant formation, growing on the plains and low hills, as well as in undisturbed areas such as old cultivations.

 

Flora de Lanzarote

 

There are five hundred different kinds of plants on the island, of which 17 species are endemic.

These plants have adapted to the relative scarcity of water in the same way as succulents.

They include the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), which is found in damper areas of the north, the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis), ferns and wild olive trees (Olea europaea).

Laurisilva trees, which once covered the highest parts of Risco de Famara, are rarely found today.

After winter rainfall, the vegetation comes to a colourful bloom between February and March.

 

Un bosque de laurisilva en Tarifa, más motivos para la locura

 

The vineyards of La Gería wine region, are a protected area.

Single vines are planted in pits 4–5 metres (13–16 feet) wide and 2–3 metres (6 feet 7 inches–9 feet 10 inches) deep, with small stone walls around each pit.

This agricultural technique is designed to harvest rainfall and overnight dew and to protect the plants from the winds.

 

Lanzarote Wineries: 10 Incredible Volcanic Vineyards 🍷

 

What is not natural to Lanzarote, but found in Guatina in abundance, are cactus plants.

Guatina is a seemingly endless ocean of cactus whose large, oval proturbences blend into weird geometric forms.

At first glance, it seems that surely only some strange caprice of nature could have brought together in one same place such an enormous quantity of plants that normally elsewhere grow in defiant solitude.

But, no…..

This plantation of spines is the work of man and the plants are as well cared for as the children of man.

To be fair, man is assisted by nature now.

 

 

Draw close to the plants and observe them in detail, for then one can see that the cactus is covered by a myriad of tiny insects.

This creepy crawlers are “cochinillas“, a strange variety of parasite which, when dead, dried and ground, produces an extraordinary natural tint, cochineal, which is used in cosmetics and dyes and is renowned for its quality and resistence to external agents.

This exotic insect, originally from Mexico, arrived on Lanzarote in the 17th century and has since become a permanent resident, contributing significantly to the economy of Lanzarote.

As the cochinilla is an immigrant so too are Guatiza’s cacti.

 

Se realiza estudio sobre la cochinilla rosada

 

Here is a flat, elongated place that you can find on a long avenue in the otherwise almost treeless Lanzarote.

For tourists, Guatiza is a pure transit point and is still entirely reserved for the Lanzarotenos.

Only the Jardín de Cactus at the northern end of the village, Manrique’s last creation in Lanzorote, attracts visitors in droves.

In the middle of the village, behind small stone walls, there are large prickly pear cactus fields, which were previously used extensively for the breeding of cochineal lice and which no longer tear down behind Mala.

Some dilapidated gofio mills set contrasts.

 

Jardín de Cactus – CACT Lanzarote

 

(A note about Lanzarote gastronomy:

Due to reasons of climate and customs, Lanzarote’e cuisine tends to be quite simple, based on elements common to the Island, like fish and local produce, seasoned with spices and special dressings.

Almost all Canarian dishes are served with an accompaniment known as gofio, which has been consumed for centuries.

Gofio is made from toasted grain flour.

 

entornos / ... Lanzarote, la isla de los volcanes: Gofio

 

Gofio amasado is made from mixing this flour with different ingredients, such as water, milk, broth, potatoes, honey, wine, etc. in a leather bag, pot or pan.

 

Cómo hacer una PELLA DE GOFIO, una receta tradicional canaria

Most gofio is made with a mixture of wheat and barley grains, toasted and then milled.

Gofio de millo is also used: a coarse flour made from toasted corn.)

 

Gofio de Millo 1 Kg - Gofio La Piña - Dietetica Ferrer

 

The pretty parish church of Santo Gusto stands out to the side of the main street.

The facade is covered with elegantly curved decorations made of brown lava stone.

In the high interior there are colored glass windows, a large altar and a heavy wooden gallery.

 

Kirche Santo Gusto - Bild von Iglesia Santo Gusto, Guatiza ...

 

The streets at the southern entrance lead to Los Cocoteros on the coast (not signposted, but not to be missed).
Past cactus fields and a picón (volcanic sand) pit, it goes down on an asphalt road to the secluded holiday home area right by the sea.
Many bungalows seem neglected, there are a few tousled palm trees in the area, there is no shop or other facilities.
A seawater pool, when filled, mainly attracts children and adolescents, in front of it is a lagoon pool with small strips of sand, which is protected from the turbulent sea by a closed jetty.
Wikiloc | Foto de Lanzarote Norte 3 : Las Tuneras de Guatiza, los ...
At the entrance to the village, next to an apartment complex where you can park, are the large Salinas de los Agujeros – in addition to the large Salinas de Janubio in the south, the only ones still in operation in Lanzarote.
A path leads along the sea and you can see the heaped salt mountains between the rectangular evaporation basins – a handful of salt is a nice reminder of Lanzarote.
Salinas del Agujero | Lanzarote Internacional Turismo
In a decommissioned picón pit, in which loose lapilla stone for dry field cultivation had been mined since the mid-19th century, the island government had a wasteful variety of cactus and milkweed plants (euphorbia) of all shapes and sizes planted according to César Manrique’s plans in the late 1980s.
There are over 1400 species – from tiny structures that are only a few centimeters high to giant spiked giants.
A facility that fascinates in its diversity and shows what is possible in the supposedly hostile desolation of Lanzarote.
Jardin de Cactus Admission Ticket in Lanzarote - Klook
The Jardín de Cactus is located on the outskirts of Guatiza, in the middle of huge opuntia fields for breeding cochineal lice.
A towering cactus directly on the road leads to surprised “Oh” and “Ah“.
As you get closer, you can see that this magnificent specimen of eight meters is made entirely of metal!

Cactus Garden

A gofio mill towers above the garden, which also offers a striking eye-catcher and has almost become a kind of landmark for Lanzarote.
Both the mill and the entire pit were in a completely dilapidated state before Manrique laid out the blooming museum garden.
Since then, the crowds have flocked and Lanzarote has been enriched by a large attraction.
High Quality Stock Photos of "cacti"
The Jardín de Cactus is designed in the form of an amphitheatre.
Jardin de Cactus — Wikipédia
On paths made of lava stone, you cross the large, walled area, on which the most diverse cacti grow, with planted terraces all around.
Goldfish ponds, small waterfalls and high, bizarrely shaped lava steles loosen up the area.
The latter date from the time when picón was mined here.
They were too hard and were just left standing at that time.
Jardín de Cactus | Du befindest dich auf der Tourismus-Website der ...
Like the cochineal louse, the fig cactus has been imported from Mexico, and, in fact, most of the species growing at the Jardín de Cactus come from America.
You can hardly see enough of the many, attractively planted cactus species.
They are particularly pretty when they are showing their mostly brightly colored flowers.
THE CACTUS GARDEN LANZAROTE Jardin de Cactus Visitor Guide - Finca ...
There are said to be 9,700 specimens from 1,420 different species, all of which are neatly marked with their scientific names.
However, the cacti do not all come from the Canaries, but are imported in part from America and Africa.
But of course you can also find the native representatives of the genus.
At the far end of the complex you come to the cafeteria.
Jardín de Cactus – CACT Lanzarote
You sit there on a terrace under canvas tarpaulins, have a beautiful view of the cactus garden and can enjoy various “platos combinados” and cakes.
Via a spiral staircase you climb a decorative Manrique piece of art made of glass and metal to the restored windmill and visit the large grinder.
The view from up here is also worth the climb.
Jardín de Cactus – CACT Lanzarote
Last but not least, you can pay a visit to the side rotunda where the souvenir shop is located.
A wind chime is mounted on the roof, in front of the pavilion you can see a face in the stone from which a small waterfall is splashing.
Like all the works of Manrique, representative par excellence of the soul of Lanzarote, the cactus garden is an ode to life in the midst of apparent bleakness, a symbol of everything that Lanzarote has always stood for:
The work of man transforming the environment and helping life to triumph over the inanimate.
Ticket to Jardín de Cactus | Spain - Lonely Planet

 

César Manrique (24 April 1919 – 25 September 1992) was a Spanish artist, sculptor, architect and activist from Lanzarote.

 

César Manrique: 100 Jahre Leben | Hoopoe Villas Lanzarote

 

Manrique was born in Arrecife, Lanzarote.

He fought in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer in the artillery unit on Franco’s side.

 

Infobox collage for Spanish Civil War.jpg

 

He attended the University of La Laguna to study architecture, but after two years he quit his studies.

 

Seal of University of La Laguna.png

 

He moved to Madrid in 1945 and received a scholarship for the Art School of San Fernando, where he graduated as a teacher of art and painting.

 

Palacio de Goyeneche - Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.jpg

 

Between 1964 and 1966 he lived in New York City, where a grant from Nelson Rockefeller allowed him to rent his own studio.

He painted many works in New York, which were exhibited in the prestigious “Catherine Viviano” gallery.

 

 

Manrique returned to Lanzarote in 1966.

His legacy on the island includes:

  • the art, culture and tourism centre at Jameos del Agua (1963 – 1987)

Jameos del Agua – Fundación César Manrique

 

  • his Volcano House, Taro de Tahiche (1968)

 

Spain Archives | Mari's World

 

  • the restaurant at the restored Castillo de San José at Arrecife (1976)

 

Restaurant QuéMUAC-Castillo de San José

 

  • the visitors center at the Timanfaya National Park (1971)

 

Timanfaya National Park - Auszeit Lanzarote - Holidays on Lanzarote

 

  • his Palm Grove House at Haria (1986)

 

Haus-Museum César Manrique. Haría

 

  • the Mirador del Rio (1973)

 

Mirador del Río – Fundación César Manrique

 

  • the Jardin de Cactus at Guatiza (1991)

 

Jardin de cactus, obra de Cesar Manrique - Picture of Lanzarote ...

 

He had a major influence on the planning regulations on Lanzarote following his recognition of its potential for tourism and lobbied successfully to encourage the sustainable development of the industry.

One aspect of this is the lack of high rise hotels on the island.

Those that are there are in generally keeping with the use of traditional colours in their exterior decoration.

 

Lanzarote Tour. Das Beste von Künstler César Manrique - Reiseblog

 

As my wife and I drive around the Island we have made it one of our goals to see as much of Manrique’s legacy as we can during our six days here.

I find myself wondering what he would think of this day’s events.

 

Los periodistas Ignacio Escolar Y Olga Rodríguez inauguran el ...

 

I imagine he would have no great love for either Russia or America in terms of their attitudes towards Afghanistan, though he would probably be no fan of the Taliban either, especially in regards to their destruction of any cultural monuments that are not sufficiently reflective of Islam.

 

Flag of Afghanistan | Britannica

 

In 1999, Mullah Omar issued a decree protecting the Buddha statues at Bamyan, two 6th-century monumental statues of standing Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan.

But in March 2001, the statues were destroyed by the Taliban of Mullah Omar, following a decree stating:

“All the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed.”

 

Mohammed Omar | Dictators Wiki | Fandom

 

Yahya Massoud, brother of the anti-Taliban and resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, recalls the following incident after the destruction of the Buddha statues at Bamyan:

It was the spring of 2001.

I was in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, together with my brother Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the Afghan resistance against the Taliban, and Bismillah Khan, who currently serves as Afghanistan’s interior minister.

One of our commanders, Commandant Momin, wanted us to see 30 Taliban fighters who had been taken hostage after a gun battle.

My brother agreed to meet them.

I remember that his first question concerned the centuries-old Buddha statues that were dynamited by the Taliban in March of that year, shortly before our encounter.

Two Taliban combatants from Kandahar confidently responded that worshiping anything outside of Islam was unacceptable and that therefore these statues had to be destroyed.

My brother looked at them and said, this time in Pashto:

‘There are still many sun- worshippers in this country.

Will you also try to get rid of the sun and drop darkness over the Earth?’

 

dhamma musings: The Big Buddhas Of Bamiyan

 

I imagine that he would be on the side of Papuans desire for independence from Indonesia, though he might have approved of the violence used by either side of the ongoing conflict between Western New Guinea (Papua) and the Indonesian authorities.

 

Flag of Papua

 

I imagine he would be following with great interest the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference held from 2  to 16 December in Katowice, Poland.

A worldly wise and environmentally conscious artist like Manrique would probably have shared the opinion of many that Donald Trump was / is an idiot to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement, for the sole goal of dismantling and erasing any legacy that his predecessor Barack Obama had created.

 

COP24 Logo.png

 

The Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

This should be done by peaking emissions as soon as possible, in order to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases” in the second half of the 21st century.

It also aims to increase the ability of parties to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and make “finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

Under the Paris Agreement, each country must determine, plan, and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming.

No mechanism forces a country to set a specific emissions target by a specific date, but each target should go beyond previously set targets.

 

 

In June 2017, Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

Under the agreement, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the U.S. is November 2020, shortly before the end of President Trump’s 2016 term.

In practice, changes in United States policy that are contrary to the Paris Agreement have already been put in place.

 

Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement is no “hoax ...

 

Manrique would have followed yesterday’s Andalucia election results with avid fascination and especially the Constitutional Crisis just ended before we flew to Lanzarote.

 

Map of Andalusia

 

The 2017–18 Spanish constitutional crisis, also known as the Catalan crisis, was a political conflict between the Government of Spain and the Generalitat de Catalunya under former President Carles Puigdemont—the government of the autonomous community of Catalonia until 28 October 2017—over the issue of Catalan independence.

 

E.U-Catalonia.png

 

It started after the law intending to allow the 2017 Catalan independence referendum was denounced by the Spanish government under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and subsequently suspended by the Constitutional Court until it ruled on the issue.

Some international media outlets have described the events as “one of the worst political crises in modern Spanish history”.

 

Madrid - Tribunal Constitucional 7.JPG

Above: Constitutional Court, Madrid

 

Though Manrique’s surviving the Spanish Civil War and the reign of France might have made his opinion as to the importance of this chapter in Spanish history differ from modern day commentators.

 

Puigdemont‘s government announced that neither central Spanish authorities nor the courts would halt their plans and that it intended to hold the vote anyway, sparking a legal backlash that quickly spread from the Spanish and Catalan governments to Catalan municipalities—as local mayors were urged by the Generalitat to provide logistical support and help for the electoral process to be carried out—as well as to the Constitutional Court, the High Court of Justice of Catalonia and state prosecutors.

 

Retrat oficial del President Carles Puigdemont cropped.jpg

 

By 15 September, as pro-Catalan independence parties began their referendum campaigns, the Spanish government had launched an all-out legal offensive to thwart the upcoming vote, including threats of a financial takeover of much of the Catalan budget, police seizing pro-referendum posters, pamphlets and leaflets which had been regarded as illegal and criminal investigations ordered on the over 700 local mayors who had publicly agreed to help stage the referendum.

Tensions between the two sides reached a critical point after Spanish police raided the Catalan government headquarters in Barcelona on 20 September, at the start of Operation Anubis, and arrested fourteen senior Catalan officials.

This led to protests outside the Catalan economy department which saw Civil Guard officers trapped inside the building for hours and several vehicles vandalized.

 

 

The referendum was eventually held, albeit without meeting minimum standards for elections and amid low turnout and police crackdown which at first seemed to have ended with hundreds injured, but was later rectified by the media since they were all deceived by the Catalan authorities, who had issued the Health Department to mix injured numbers with catered numbers, resulting in inflated figures.

Local hospitals reported figures of up to four injured people, two of them in critical state, one for a gum ball shot and the other one due to a heart attack.

Also the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that up to 431 officers were injured, bruised or even bitten.

 

 

On 10 October, Puigdemont ambiguously declared and suspended independence during a speech in the Parliament of Catalonia, arguing his move was directed at entering talks with Spain.

The Spanish government required Puigdemont to clarify whether he had declared independence or not, to which it received no clear answer.

A further requirement was met with an implicit threat from the Generalitat that it would lift the suspension on the independence declaration if Spain “continued its repression“, in response to the imprisonment of the leaders of pro-independence Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, accused of sedition by the National Court because of their involvement in the 20 September events.

 

Asamblea Nacional Catalana (logotipo).svg

 

On 21 October, it was announced by Prime Minister Rajoy that Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution would be invoked, leading to direct rule over Catalonia by the Spanish government once approved by the Senate.

 

Mariano Rajoy in 2018.jpg

 

On 27 October, the Catalan parliament voted in a secret ballot to unilaterally declare independence from Spain, with some deputies boycotting a vote considered illegal for violating the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Spain, as the lawyers of the Parliament of Catalonia warned.

As a result, the government of Spain invoked the Constitution to remove the regional authorities and enforce direct rule the next day, with a regional election being subsequently called for 21 December 2017 to elect a new Parliament of Catalonia.

Catalan Declaration of Independence.jpg

Puigdemont and part of his cabinet fled to Belgium after being ousted, as the Spanish Attorney General pressed for charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds against them.

 

Spanish Judiciary Badge-Public Prosecutor.svg

 

We learned this morning that a far-right party in Spain broke new political ground Sunday after winning 12 seats in a regional election for the first time since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

In another sign that the far-right is gaining momentum in Europe, the Vox party gained its success in Andalucia, an area in the south of the country which has suffered with high unemployment and is one of the flashpoints for the country’s battle with illegal immigration.
VOX logo.svg
Its success was lauded by French far-right politician Marine Le Pen, who tweeted:
“Strong and warm congratulations to my friends from Vox, who tonight in Spain scored a meaningful result for such a young and dynamic movement.”
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen announces 2022 presidential bid
Vox has attracted voters with its hard line stance on illegal immigration, its opposition to Catalan independence and its calls for Gibraltar to be returned to Spain.
Gibraltar – British Style at the tip of Spain - Landscape and ...
It could now find itself in a position as kingmaker with the ruling Socialist party failing to secure enough seats to command a majority.
“We are the ones who will bring about change, progress and the reconquest,” Francisco Serrano, Vox’s candidate in Andalusia told a loud crowd gathered in Seville, Reuters reported Sunday.
Francisco Serrano (@FSerranoCastro) | Twitter
The Socialists, who won 33 seats, said Vox’s success should be viewed as “very serious.”
This phenomenon we have seen in the rest of Europe and the world has now reached Spain and is entering the Andalusia parliament,” Susana Diaz, the Socialist candidate in the region, told supporters, according to Reuters.
File:Zoido con Susana Díaz (cropped).jpg - Wikipedia
The results in Andalucia, a region where the Socialist party has governed since the first post-Franco elections in 1982, are likely to spark fears that the far-right could gain further influence in a series of local and European elections in May 2019.
Vox will now have to wait to find out whether it will be approached to be part of rightwing coalition that would be led by the conservative People’s Party, which came second.
Its national leader Pablo Casado said it will hold talks with all the parties to the right of the Socialists, Reuters reported.
Casado deja la puerta abierta: "Los Pactos de la Moncloa son ...
The result is also a setback for Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who took office in June following a corruption scandal.
“My government will continue to push ahead with a pro-reform, pro- European project,” he tweeted on Monday.
The results in Andalucía strengthen our compromise to defend the constitution and democracy against fear.
Spain is not scheduled to hold a general election until 2020, though there is speculation the vote could be brought forward if Sanchez’s minority government fail to pass a budget.
Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez calls general election for April 28
(Update: 10 April 2020

After the rejection of his budget, Sánchez called an early general election for 28 April 2019, making a television announcement in which he declared that “between doing nothing and continuing with the former budget and calling on Spaniards to have their say, I chose the second. Spain needs to keep advancing, progressing with tolerance, respect, moderation and common sense“.

Sánchez’s party the PSOE won the election, obtaining 29% of the vote which translated into 123 seats in the Congress of Deputies, well over the 85 seats and 23% share of the vote the party obtained in the 2016 election.

PSOE also won a majority in the Senate.

Whilst the PSOE were 53 seats short of the 176 seats needed for an outright majority in the Congress of Deputies, a three-way split in the centre-right vote assured that it was the only party that could realistically form a government.

 

Palacio de las Cortes, Madrid - Wikipedia

 

On 6 June 2019, King Felipe VI, having previously held prospective meetings with the spokespeople of the political groups with representation in the new Congress of Deputies, formally proposed Sánchez as prospective Prime Minister.

Sánchez accepted the task of trying to form a government “with honor and responsibility“.

 

Spanish king renounces inheritance from scandal-hit father | News ...

 

Several weeks of negotiations with the Podemos Party ended in an agreement that Sánchez would appoint several Podemos members to the Cabinet, although not the party’s leader Pablo Iglesias.

But in the final voting session, Podemos rejected the agreement and led Sánchez to try a second chance to be inaugurated in September.

 

Pablo Iglesias Thinks There Is an Alternative

 

Following the results of the November 2019 Spanish general election, on 12 November 2019, Pedro Sánchez and Iglesias announced a preliminary agreement between PSOE and Unidas Podemos to rule together creating the first coalition government of the Spanish democracy, for all purposes a minority coalition as it did not enjoy a qualified majority at the Lower House, thus needing further support or abstention from other parliamentary forces in order to get through.

 

Spain Flag

 

On 7 January 2020, Pedro Sánchez earned a second mandate as Prime Minister after receiving a plurality of votes in the second round vote of his investiture at the Congress of Deputies.

He was then once again sworn in as Prime Minister by King Felipe on 8 January 2020.

Soon after, Sánchez proceeded to form a new cabinet with 22 ministers and four vice-presidencies, who assumed office on 13 January 2020.

 

Spain Maps | Maps of Spain

 

Because of the corona virus pandemic, on 13 March 2020, Sánchez announced a declaration of the constitutional state of alarm in the nation for a period of 15 days, to become effective the following day after the approval of the Council of Ministers, becoming the second time in democratic history and the first time with this magnitude.

The following day imposed a nationwide lockdown, banning all trips that were not force majeure and announced it may intervene in companies to guarantee supplies.

 

COVID-19 outbreak Spain per capita cases map.svg

 

The 2020 corona virus pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Spain on 31 January 2020, when a German tourist tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in La Gomera, Canary Islands.

 

Canary Islands Political Map With Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran ...

 

By 24 February, Spain confirmed multiple cases related to the Italian cluster, originating from a medical doctor from Lombardy, Italy, who was on holiday in Tenerife.

Other cases involving individuals who visited Italy were also discovered in Peninsular Spain.

 

Novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) pandemic - DG ECHO Daily Map | 20 ...

 

By 13 March, cases had been registered in all 50 provinces of the country.

A state of alarm and national lockdown was imposed on 14 March.

 

Spain's Coronavirus deaths surpass 1,300, close to 25,000 cases ...

 

On 29 March it was announced that, beginning the following day, all non-essential workers were to stay home for the next 14 days.

 

Latest developments on the coronavirus | The Young Witness | Young ...

 

By late March, the Community of Madrid has recorded the most cases and deaths in the country.

Medical professionals and those who live in retirement homes have experienced especially high infection rates.

 

The 19 Coolest & Best Airbnbs in Madrid, Spain | Airbnb Madrid [2020]

 

On 25 March 2020, the death toll in Spain surpassed that reported in mainland China and only Italy had a higher death toll globally.

On 2 April, 950 people died of the virus in a 24-hour period—at the time, the most by any country in a single day.

 

Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery – Madrid, Spain - Atlas Obscura

 

The next day, Spain surpassed Italy in total cases and is now second only to the United States.

As of 7 April, Spain has the third largest number of confirmed cases per capita, behind Iceland and Luxembourg, not counting microstates.

As of 9 April 2020, there have been 153,222 confirmed cases with 52,165 recoveries and 15,447 deaths in Spain.

 

Digital political map of Spain 1466 | The World of Maps.com

 

The actual number of cases, however, is likely to be much higher, as many people with only mild or no symptoms are unlikely to have been tested.

The number of deceased is also believed to be an underestimate due to lack of testing and reporting, perhaps by as much as 10,000 according to excess mortality analysis.

 

Coronavirus: Europeans warned to expect months of disruption ...

 

During the pandemic, the healthcare system is using triage, denying resources to elderly patients.

Furthermore, infected elderly people living in nursing homes are being rejected by hospitals.

 

Three women over 90 recover from coronavirus at Nahariya hospital ...

 

As of 7 April 2020, the Canary Islands have 1,824 confirmed Covina-19 cases.

Of these, 730 have been hospitalized, 140 in intensive care units, 92 have died, 359 have recovered.

 

Canary Island hotel on lock-down over coronavirus | Baltic News ...

 

Had Manrique been alive in 2018 he would have been 98 years old but he was killed in a car crash in 1992.

Had he been alive in 2020, chances are strong that at his advanced age he would have been vulnerable to Covina-19 as many of the elderly are.)

 

César Manrique, sa vie et son oeuvre | Fondarch

 

As we wander amongst the cacti, row after row, terrase level atop terrase Level, I find myself wondering why Manrique chose such a plant not native to the Island.

 

Jardin de Cactus (Guatiza) : 2020 Ce qu'il faut savoir pour votre ...

 

From Manrique’s writings it is certainly clear of how he felt about nature:

Nature’s freedom has modelled my freedom in life, as an artist and as a man.

 

Manrique Tour: geführte tour nach Cueva de los Verdes, Jardín de ...

 

I want to extract harmony from the Earth to unify it with my feeling for art.

 

Jardin de Cactus Admission Ticket in Lanzarote

 

We have to create a new universal conscience in order to try and save the natural environment from the encroachment of human egoism, capable only of seeing the benefits of economic interests in the thorough destruction of nature.

 

Jardín de cactus y suculentas no cactáceas | Jardin mexicain ...

 

We must find time to enjoy contact with Mother Nature.

She teaches us to behold her awe-inspiring aesthetics and creativity.

 

Tourismus in Lanzarote: Jardín de Cactus, Kactusgarten

 

We should learn from and use our own environment to create, without resorting to any preconceived ideas.

This is the fundamental factor which has strengthened Lanzarote’s personality.

We did not have to copy anybody.

Lanzarote taught us this other alternative.

 

Bild "Jardin de Cactus" zu Inseltouren mit Guidos Taxi Lanzarote ...

 

The only thing I aim to achieve is to fuse with nature, so that she may be able to help me and I may be able to help her.

 

THE CACTUS GARDEN LANZAROTE Jardin de Cactus Visitor Guide - Finca ...

 

I wonder if Switzerland’s natural beauty was an inspiration for the feelings he harboured towards the environment, for Manrique, in 1959, participated in collective exhibitions devoted to young Spanish painters in ten cities, including Fribourg and Basel.

 

The Most Breathtaking Mountain Views in Switzerland

 

Manrique painted an oil canvas painting entitled Mexico in 1969.

 

Mexico by César Manrique on artnet

 

The Fundación César Manrique is based in Taro de Tahiche in the former residence of the artist.

The property really reflects the concept that Manrique created, a wonderful mixture of the natural environment and modern design.

 

Institution – Fundación César Manrique

 

Architect Frei Otto said of the Taro de Tahiche property:

It is something special.

It reminds me of similar houses in Pedregal, Mexico.….”

 

Frei Otto im Detail - muenchenarchitektur

 

Did Manrique visit Mexico?

 

Mexico Map and Satellite Image

 

Jardines del Pedregal (Rocky Gardens) or simply El Pedregal (full name: El Pedregal de San Angel) is an upscale residential colonia (neighborhood) in southern Mexico City hosting some of the richest families of Mexico.

It is also known as the home to the biggest mansion in the city.

 

158. Jardines de Pedregal. Mexico D.F.

 

Its borders are San Jerónimo Avenue and Ciudad Universitaria at the north, Insurgentes Avenue at the east and Periférico at south and west.

Its 1,250 acres (5.1 km2) were the major real estate project undertaken by Mexican modernist architect Luis Barragán.

 

Luis Barragán Morfín – Wikipedia

 

When it was originally developed, in the mid-1940s in the lava fields of the Pedregal de San Ángel, it was probably the biggest urban development the city had seen.

The first house to be built here was the studio/home of architect Max Cetto.

 

MAX CETTO ARCHITECTURE CASA CETTO 1951 51 1950S MEXICO MEXICO CITY ...

 

The area has changed a lot since its original development but even as its modernist spirit and its original elements of ecosystem protection are gone critics have described its original development, the houses and gardens as a turning point in Mexican architecture.

Some of the old modernist houses have been catalogued as part of Mexico’s national patrimony.

 

Explore the fascinating house museums of Mexico City

 

The Pedregal lava fields were formed by the eruption of the Xitle volcano around 5000 BC, but there are documented eruptions until 400 AD.

The area near what is currently el Pedregal, called Cuicuilco, has been inhabited since 1700 BC.

 

Western side of the circular pyramid at Cuicuilco. (32961693441).jpg

 

Around 300 BC, the area contained what was probably the biggest city in the Valley of Mexico at the time.

Its importance started to decline around 100 BC and was completely empty by 400.

In the mid-1940s Luis Barragán began a project to urbanize the area and protect its ecosystem.

Barragán had the idea of developing El Pedregal promoting the harmony between architecture and landscape.

The first structures built on the site were the Plaza de las Fuentes, or Plaza of the Fountains, the demonstration gardens and demonstration houses by Barragán and Max Cetto.

 

About Max Cetto – Casa-Estudio Max Cetto

 

Other famous architects that contributed to the development of Pedregal include: Francisco Artigas, Enrique Castañeda Tamborrell, José María Buendía, Antonio Attolini, Fernando Ponce Pino, Óscar Urrutia and Manuel Rosen.

For sculptural effect, rocks and vegetation were left largely in place, crevices between the lava formations were cleared as paths, and at several points, rough-cut stairways passed between rock terraces.

These stairways led to pools or fountains of various configurations, or to small patches of flat ground, where loam was brought in and lawns planted.

The smooth surfaces of the lawns and pools provided contrast to the jagged rocks, while fountains lent kinetic and aural elements to the mix.

 

Jardines del Pedregal - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

 

The botanical garden at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) was founded in 1959 by a pair of botanists who wanted to create a space on campus dedicated entirely to the study and preservation of Mexico’s extraordinarily diverse flora.

 

UNAM Botanical Garden – Mexico City, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

 

Mexico is one of the most biodiverse countries in terms of its vegetation, home to more plant species than the US and Canada combined.

It also has the highest diversity of cactus plants in the world at an estimated 800 recorded species.

 

The secret gardens of Mexico

 

Historically, Mexico City is no stranger to botanical gardens.

 

From top and left: Angel of Independence, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, Paseo de la Reforma, Torre Latinoamericana, National Palace, Parque La Mexicana in Santa Fe, Monumento a la Revolución, Chapultepec Castle, Palacio de Bellas Artes and Paseo de la Reforma

 

The Aztec emperors kept numerous planted areas of ornamental, medicinal, and edible plants collected from all over the empire, long before the arrival of the Spanish.

The UNAM botanical garden continues this tradition, but with an added focus on conservation, environmental education, and advancing botanical and taxonomic science.

Fittingly, the collection has an enormous collection of endemic cacti, and many of the species on display here are highly endangered due to habitat destruction, overexploitation, and climate change.

But the gardens contain much more than just cacti.

 

UNAM botanical garden - evolution of plants

 

There are areas planted with beautiful ornamental plants, a medicinal plant garden with species used traditionally by indigenous communities, an orchidarium, and many waterlily pools also home to plump koi carp and languid turtles.

The green spaces here make for an ideal place to come and relax away from the chaos of Mexico City life.

 

UNAM Botanical Garden – Mexico City, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

 

The garden is also notable for being built on and around strange volcanic rock formations that were formed by lava flows during the Xitle volcanic eruption, which destroyed the nearby Cuilcuilca civilization in Mexico’s distant past.

As such, many of the gardens’ meandering footpaths pass under, over, and around naturally formed grottoes, ponds, mini waterfalls, and rockeries, making for a unique experience.

 

Botanical Gardens around the World – GringoPotpourri

 

Wildlife can be seen here, too, and it is a particularly good area to spot birds such as woodpeckers, owls, orioles, and hummingbirds.

Also found here are reptiles like rattlesnakes, milksnakes, and lizards, numerous species of butterflies, and even the rare Pedregal tarantula, an endemic species that is found only in this small area of Mexico City.

 

Tarántula del Pedregal (Aphonopelma anitahoffmannae) · NaturaLista

 

The Jardín de Cactus, situated in the Lanzarote village of Guatiza, in a former quarry where volcanic sand (picón) was extracted to spread on cultivated areas to retain moisture.

 

Things to do in Lanzarote - 21+ ideas (Inspiring, Scenic, Fun ...

 

Prickly pears are grown in the area for the production of cochineal.

The cactus garden was created in 1991, the last project of César Manrique.

 

Cesar Manrique (1919-1992) – FTN-blog

 

The botanist Estanislao González Ferrer was responsible for the selection and planting of the specimens.

Estanislao González Ferrer (1930- 1990) was a Spanish botanist, expert in the flora of the Canary Island of Lanzarote.

 

Estanislao González Ferrer – Oplev Lanzarote

 

A flower endemic to the island was found by his disciples, with whom he used to go out to do field work studying and documenting species in situ, and named in his honor: the Helianthemum gonzalez ferreri.

 

BIODIVERSIDAD

 

Estanislao González Ferrer was a Lanzarote native especially involved in the conservation of nature and the historical heritage of his native island, specializing in botany.

In his day he was one of the people commissioned by the Arrecife City Council to form a previous commission for the creation of the city’s museum and among his best-known botanical contributions is his participation as botanical manager in the creation of the well-known Cactus Garden of Lanzarote by César Manrique.

 

Mini jardín de cactus y piedras | Decoration jardin, Jardin en ...

 

A cactus (plural cacti, cactuses, or less commonly, cactus) is a member of the plant family Cactaceae, a family comprising about 127 genera with some 1,750 known species of the order Caryophyllales.

The word “cactus” derives, through Latin, from the Ancient Greek κάκτος, kaktos, a name originally used by Theophrastus for a spiny plant whose identity is now not certain.

Cacti occur in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

 

Various Cactaceae.jpg

Above: Various Cactaceae 1-Nopalea coccinellifera 2-Cephalocereus senilis 3-Cereus giganteus 4-Mammillaria longimamma 5-Rhipsalis paradoxa 6-Echinocactus longihamatus 7-Echinopsis oxygona 8-Cereus grandiflorus 9-Echinocereus pectinatus 10-Leuchtenbergia principis 11-Phyllocactus ackermanni 12-Melocactus communis

 

Most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought.

Many live in extremely dry environments, even being found in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth.

 

 

Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water.

Almost all cacti are succulents, meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water.

Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place.

 

 

Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves.

As well as defending against herbivores, spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade.

In the absence of leaves, enlarged stems carry out photosynthesis.

 

 

Cacti are native to the Americas, ranging from Patagonia in the south to parts of western Canada in the north—except for Rhipsalis baccifera, which also grows in Africa and Sri Lanka.

 

Rhipsalis baccifera 01 ies.jpg

 

Cactus spines are produced from specialized structures called areoles, a kind of highly reduced branch.

Areoles are an identifying feature of cacti.

As well as spines, areoles give rise to flowers, which are usually tubular and multi-petaled.

 

 

Many cacti have short growing seasons and long dormancies, and are able to react quickly to any rainfall, helped by an extensive but relatively shallow root system that quickly absorbs any water reaching the ground surface.

Cactus stems are often ribbed or fluted, which allows them to expand and contract easily for quick water absorption after rain, followed by long drought periods.

Like other succulent plants, most cacti employ a special mechanism called “crassulacean acid metabolism” (CAM) as part of photosynthesis.

 

Above: A pineapple, an example of a CAM plant

 

Transpiration, during which carbon dioxide enters the plant and water escapes, does not take place during the day at the same time as photosynthesis, but instead occurs at night.

The plant stores the carbon dioxide it takes in as malic acid, retaining it until daylight returns, and only then using it in photosynthesis.

Because transpiration takes place during the cooler, more humid night hours, water loss is significantly reduced.

Many smaller cacti have globe-shaped stems, combining the highest possible volume for water storage, with the lowest possible surface area for water loss from transpiration.

Above: Overview of transpiration

  1. Water is passively transported into the roots and then into the xylem.
  2. The forces of cohesion and adhesion cause the water molecules to form a column in the xylem.
  3. Water moves from the xylem into the mesophyll cells, evaporates from their surfaces and leaves the plant by diffusion through the stomata

 

The tallest free-standing cactus is Pachycereus pringlei, with a maximum recorded height of 19.2 m (63 ft), and the smallest is Blossfeldia liliputiana, only about 1 cm (0.4 in) in diameter at maturity.

 

Blossfeldia liliputana1MW.jpg

 

A fully grown saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) is said to be able to absorb as much as 200 US gallons (760 litres; 170 Impirical gallons) of water during a rainstorm.

 

Carnegiea gigantea in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona during November (58).jpg

 

A few species differ significantly in appearance from most of the family.

At least superficially, plants of the genus Pereskia resemble other trees and shrubs growing around them.

They have persistent leaves, and when older, bark-covered stems.

Their areoles identify them as cacti, and in spite of their appearance, they, too, have many adaptations for water conservation.

Pereskia is considered close to the ancestral species from which all cacti evolved.

 

Pereskia grandifolia2.jpg

 

In tropical regions, other cacti grow as forest climbers and epiphytes (plants that grow on trees).

Their stems are typically flattened, almost leaf-like in appearance, with fewer or even no spines, such as the well-known Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving cactus (in the genus Schlumbergera).

 

Drawing is probably of a pressed specimen as it appears flat; the base is at the bottom and the plant then branches repeatedly – about six times in the longest branch. Most branches end in either buds or regular flowers which are pinkish.

 

Cacti have a variety of uses:

Many species are used as ornamental plants, others are grown for fodder or forage, and others for food (particularly their fruit).

 

Starr 020803-0119 Aleurites moluccana.jpg

 

Cochineal is the product of an insect that lives on some cacti.

As of March 2012, there was still controversy as to the precise dates when humans first entered those areas of the New World where cacti are commonly found, and hence when they might first have used them.

 

 

An archaeological site in Chile has been dated to around 15,000 years ago, suggesting cacti would have been encountered before then.

Early evidence of the use of cacti includes cave paintings in the Serra da Capivara in Brazil, and seeds found in ancient middens (waste dumps) in Mexico and Peru, with dates estimated at 9,000 years ago.

 

Pedra Furada - Serra da Capivara I.jpg

 

Hunter-gatherers likely collected cactus fruits in the wild and brought them back to their camps.

It is not known when cacti were first cultivated.

Opuntias (prickly pears) were used for a variety of purposes by the Aztecs, whose empire, lasting from the 14th to the 16th century, had a complex system of horticulture.

Their capital from the 15th century was Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City).

One explanation for the origin of the name is that it includes the Nahuatl word nōchtli, referring to the fruit of an opuntia.

The coat of arms of Mexico shows an eagle perched on a cactus while holding a snake, an image at the center of the myth of the founding of Tenochtitlan.

 

Coat of arms of Mexico.svg

 

The Aztecs symbolically linked the ripe red fruits of an opuntia to human hearts.

Just as the fruit quenches thirst, so offering human hearts to the sun god ensured the sun would keep moving.

 

StaCeciliaAcatitlan.jpg

 

Europeans first encountered cacti when they arrived in the New World late in the 15th century.

Their first landfalls were in the West Indies, where relatively few cactus genera are found.

One of the most common is the genus Melocactus.

Thus, melocacti were possibly among the first cacti seen by Europeans.

 

Melocactus acipinosus 1.jpg

 

Melocactus species were present in English collections of cacti before the end of the 16th century (by 1570 according to one source) where they were called Echinomelocactus, later shortened to Melocactus by Joseph Pitton de Tourneville in the early 18th century.

Cacti, both purely ornamental species and those with edible fruit, continued to arrive in Europe, so Carl Linnaeus was able to name 22 species by 1753.

 

Portrait of Linnaeus on a brown background with the word "Linne" in the top right corner

Above: Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778)

 

One of these, his Cactus opuntia (now part of Opuntia ficus-indica), was described as “fructu majore … nunc in Hispania et Lusitania” (with larger fruit … now in Spain and Portugal), indicative of its early use in Europe.

The plant now known as Opuntia ficus-indica, or the Indian fig cactus, has long been an important source of food.

 

Opuntia22 filtered.jpg

 

The original species is thought to have come from central Mexico, although this is now obscure because the indigenous people of southern North America developed and distributed a range of horticultural varieties (cultivars), including forms of the species and hybrids with other opuntias.

Both the fruit and pads are eaten, the former often under the Spanish name tuna, the latter under the name nopal.

Cultivated forms are often significantly less spiny or even spineless.

The nopal industry in Mexico was said to be worth US$150 million in 2007.

 

 

The Indian fig cactus was probably already present in the Caribbean when the Spanish arrived, and was soon after brought to Europe.

It spread rapidly in the Mediterranean area, both naturally and by being introduced—so much so, early botanists assumed it was native to the area.

Outside the Americas, the Indian fig cactus is an important commercial crop in Sicily, Algeria and other North African countries.

Fruits of other opuntias are also eaten, generally under the same name, tuna.

 

 

Flower buds, particularly of Cylindropuntia species, are also consumed.

Almost any fleshy cactus fruit is edible.

The word pitaya or pitahaya (usually considered to have been taken into Spanish from Haitian Creole) can be applied to a range of “scaly fruit“, particularly those of columnar cacti.

 

 

The fruit of the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) has long been important to the indigenous peoples of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States, including the Sonoran Desert.

It can be preserved by boiling to produce syrup and by drying.

The syrup can also be fermented to produce an alcoholic drink.

 

 

Fruits of Stenocereus species have also been important food sources in similar parts of North America.

Stenocereus queretaroensis is cultivated for its fruit.

 

 

In more tropical southern areas, the climber Hylocereus undatus provides pitahaya orejona, now widely grown in Asia under the name dragon fruit.

 

 

Other cacti providing edible fruit include species of Echinocereus, Ferocactus, Mammillaria, Myrtillocactus, Pachycereus, Peniocereus and Selenicereus.

The bodies of cacti other than opuntias are less often eaten, although Anderson reported that Neowerdermannia vorwerkii is prepared and eaten like potatoes in upland Bolivia.

 

Neowerdermannia vorwerkii VZ176.jpg

 

A number of species of cacti have been shown to contain psychoactive agents, chemical compounds that can cause changes in mood, perception and cognition through their effects on the brain.

 

Above: An assortment of psychoactive drugs—street drugs and medications:

  1.  cocaine
  2. crack cocaine
  3. methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  4. ephedrine
  5. MDMA (Ecstasy – lavender pill with smile)
  6. mescaline (green dried cactus flesh)
  7. LSD (2×2 blotter in tiny baggie)
  8. psilocybin (dried Psilocybe cubensis mushroom)
  9. Salvia divinorum (10X extract in small baggie)
  10. diphenhydramine (Benadryl – pink pill)
  11. Amanita muscaria (red dried mushroom cap piece)
  12. Tylenol 3 (contains codeine)
  13. codeine containing muscle relaxant
  14. pipe tobacco (top)
  15. bupropion (Zyban – brownish-purple pill)
  16. cannabis (green bud center)
  17. hashish (brown rectangle)

 

Two species have a long history of use by the indigenous peoples of the Americas:

 

  • peyote, Lophophora williamsii, in North America

 

Peyote Cactus.jpg

 

  • the San Pedro cactus, Echinopsis pachanoi, in South America.

 

Starr 070320-5799 Echinopsis pachanoi.jpg

 

Both contain mescaline.

 

Above: Laboratory synthetic mescaline.

Biosynthesized by peyote, this was the first psychedelic compound to be extracted and isolated.

 

L. williamsii is native to northern Mexico and southern Texas.

Individual stems are about 2–6 cm (0.8–2.4 in) high with a diameter of 4–11 cm (1.6–4.3 in), and may be found in clumps up to 1 m (3 ft) wide.

A large part of the stem is usually below ground.

Mescaline is concentrated in the photosynthetic portion of the stem above ground.

The center of the stem, which contains the growing point (the apical meristem), is sunken.

Experienced collectors of peyote remove a thin slice from the top of the plant, leaving the growing point intact, thus allowing the plant to regenerate.

Evidence indicates peyote was in use more than 5,500 years ago.

Dried peyote buttons presumed to be from a site on the Rio Grande, Texas, were radiocarbon dated to around 3780–3660 BC.

Peyote is perceived as a means of accessing the spirit world.

 

Attempts by the Roman Catholic Church to suppress its use after the Spanish conquest were largely unsuccessful, and by the middle of the 20th century, peyote was more widely used than ever by indigenous peoples as far north as Canada.

 

Saint Peter's Basilica

Above: Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

 

It is now used formally by the Native American Church.

USVA headstone emb-12.svg

Under the auspices of what came to be known as the Native American Church, in the 19th century, American Indians in more widespread regions to the north began to use peyote in religious practices, as part of a revival of native spirituality.

Its members refer to peyote as “the sacred medicine“, and use it to combat spiritual, physical, and other social ills.

Concerned about the drug’s psychoactive effects, between the 1880s and 1930s, US authorities attempted to ban Native American religious rituals involving peyote, including the Ghost Dance.

 

 

Today the Native American Church is one among several religious organizations to use peyote as part of its religious practice.

Some users claim the drug connects them to God.

Traditional Navajo belief or ceremonial practice did not mention the use of peyote before its introduction by the neighboring Utes.

The Navajo Nation now has the most members of the Native American Church.

 

 

Dr. John Raleigh Briggs (1851–1907) was the first to draw scientific attention of the Western scientific world to peyote.

 

Early Peyote Research an Interdisciplinary Study

 

Louis Lewin described Anhalonium lewinii in 1888.

 

Louis Lewin – Wikipedia

 

Arthur Heffter conducted self experiments on its effects in 1897.

 

Heffter, Arthur - Pharmacologist, Chemist, Germany*15.06.1859-+ ...

 

Similarly, Norwegian ethnographer Carl Sofus Lumholtz studied and wrote about the use of peyote among the Indians of Mexico.

Lumholtz also reported that, lacking other intoxicants, Texas Rangers captured by Union forces during the American Civil War soaked peyote buttons in water and became “intoxicated with the liquid“.

 

Carl Sofus Lumholtz - Wikipedia

 

The US Dispensatory lists peyote under the name Anhalonium, and states it can be used in various preparations for neurasthenia, hysteria and asthma.

 

Ariocarpus fissuratus2 ies.jpg

 

Lophophora williamsii  or peyote is a small, spineless cactus with psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline.

Peyote is a Spanish word derived from the Nahuatl, or Aztec, peyōtl, meaning “glisten” or “glistening“.

Other sources translate the Nahuatl word as “Divine Messenger“.

Peyote is native to Mexico and southwestern Texas.

It is found primarily in the Chihuahuan Desert and in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and San Luis Potosí among scrub.

It flowers from March to May, and sometimes as late as September.

The flowers are pink, with thigmotactic anthers (like Opuntia).

 

Chihuahuan Desert.jpg

 

Echinopsis pachanoi is native to Ecuador and Peru.

It is very different in appearance from L. williamsii.

It has tall stems, up to 6 m (20 ft) high, with a diameter of 6–15 cm (2.4–5.9 in), which branch from the base, giving the whole plant a shrubby or tree-like appearance.

Archaeological evidence of the use of this cactus appears to date back to 2,000–2,300 years ago, with carvings and ceramic objects showing columnar cacti.

Although church authorities under the Spanish attempted to suppress its use, this failed, as shown by the Christian element in the common name “San Pedro cactus” — Saint Peter cactus.

Anderson attributes the name to the belief that just as St Peter holds the keys to heaven, the effects of the cactus allow users “to reach heaven while still on earth.”

It continues to be used for its psychoactive effects, both for spiritual and for healing purposes, often combined with other psychoactive agents, such as Datura ferox and tobacco.

Several other species of Echinopsis, including E. peruviana, also contain mescaline.

 

 

Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine) is a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid of the substituted phenethylamine class, known for its hallucinogenic effects comparable to those of LSD and psilocybin.

It occurs naturally in the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi), the Peruvian torch (Echinopsis peruviana) and other members of the plant family Cactaceae.

It is also found in small amounts in certain members of the bean family, Fabaceae, including Acacia berlandieri.

However those claims concerning Acacia species have been challenged and have been unsupported in additional analysis.

 

Säulenkaktus Blüte.JPG

 

Peyote has been used for at least 5,700 years by Native Americans in Mexico.

Europeans noted use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies upon early contact, notably by the Huichols in Mexico.

Other mescaline-containing cacti such as the San Pedro have a long history of use in South America, from Peru to Ecuador.

In traditional peyote preparations, the top of the cactus is cut off, leaving the large tap root along with a ring of green photosynthesizing area to grow new heads.

These heads are then dried to make disc-shaped buttons.

Buttons are chewed to produce the effects or soaked in water to drink.

However, the taste of the cactus is bitter, so contemporary users will often grind it into a powder and pour it in capsules to avoid having to taste it.

The usual human dosage is 200–400 milligrams of mescaline sulfate or 178–356 milligrams of mescaline hydrochloride.

The average 76 mm (3.0 in) button contains about 25 mg mescaline.

 

How much Peyote cactus do I need for a trip?

 

Mescaline was first isolated and identified in 1897 by the German chemist Arthur Heffter and first synthesized in 1918 by Ernst Späth.

 

Ernst Späth.jpg

 

Frederick Smith, who in 1914 became head of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, now the Community of Christ, promoted the use of peyote during services, to induce the religious ecstasy he said he had experienced at ceremonies of various Native American nations.

 

During the Second World War, mescaline saw use in the infamous human experimentation programme of the Third Reich.

Nazi physician Kurt Plötner forced concentration-camp prisoners to take mescaline to see whether it would serve as a ‘truth serum’ during interrogation.

 

dr. kurt Plötner | In Search of Black Assassins

 

The US Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA, was testing mescaline as a ‘truth drug’ around the same time.

However, the concept was quickly rejected:

The nausea stopped participants trusting their interrogators.

Office of Strategic Services Insignia.svg

The CIA later recruited Plötner for a project that evolved into the mind-control programme MKUltra.

 

In 1955, English politician Christopher Mayhew took part in an experiment for BBC’s Panorama, in which he ingested 400 mg of mescaline under the supervision of psychiatrist Humphry Osmond.

Though the recording was deemed too controversial and ultimately omitted from the show, Mayhew praised the experience, calling it “the most interesting thing I ever did”.

 

BBC News | In pictures: Past Faces of Panorama, Christopher Mayhew ...

 

Artists and bohemians – mainly in Europe – tested mescaline’s creative potential.

Psychiatrists and psychologists jumped onto the bandwagon.

They administered it to writers, artists and philosophers, presented them with intellectual stimuli and observed their responses.

No pattern emerged.

  • British surrealist painter of the 1930s, Julian Trevelyan, found ingestion inspiring.

 

Julian Trevelyan biography | Modern British & French Art Dealer

 

  • Basil Beaumont experienced “excruciating pain and fear“.

 

Basil Beaumont - Wikipedia

 

  • Jean-Paul Sartre took mescaline shortly before the publication of his first book, L’Imaginaire.

He had a bad trip during which he was menaced by sea creatures.

For many years following this, he persistently experienced being followed by lobsters, and became a patient of Jacques Lacan in hopes of being rid of them.

Lobsters and crabs figure in his novel Nausea.

 

Jean-Paul Sartre | Biography, Books, Philosophy, & Facts | Britannica

 

  • Havelock Ellis was the author of one of the first written reports to the public about an experience with mescaline (1898).

 

Havelock Ellis - Wikipedia

 

  • Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Polish writer, artist and philosopher, experimented with mescaline and described his experience in a 1932 book Nikotyna Alkohol Kokaina Peyotl Morfina Eter.

 

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz – Wikipedia

 

  • Aldous Huxley described his experience with mescaline in the essay The Doors of Perception (1954).

 

Aldous Huxley - Author, Screenwriter - Biography

 

  • Martin Kemp, English actor and former Spandau Ballet bassist, described in an interview experiencing mescaline at a late-night party during the height of his musical career in the 1980s:

“Mescaline is the drug the Beatles wrote Rubber Soul about.

 

Vinyl-Aufkleber BEATLES - rubber soul bei EuroPosters

 

It turns everything to rubber.

Every step you take feels like rubber.

It is a lot of fun, I have to say.

But it goes on for hours – like eight hours”.

 

Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp on his brother Gary: 'We were ...

 

  • Jim Carroll in The Basketball Diaries described using peyote that a friend smuggled from Mexico.

 

The Basketball Diaries Poster.jpg

 

  • Hunter S. Thompson wrote an extremely detailed account of his first use of mescaline in First Visit with Mescalito, and it appeared in his book Songs of the Doomed, as well as featuring heavily in his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

 

Hunter S. Thompson - Author, Journalist - Biography

 

  • Psychedelic research pioneer Alexander Shulgin said he was first inspired to explore psychedelic compounds by a mescaline experience.

 

Doku über Alexander Shulgin: Ecstasy Bandits – Lucys Rausch

 

  • Bryan Wynter produced Mars Ascends after trying the substance his first time.

 

Mars Ascends', Bryan Wynter, 1956 | Tate

 

  • According to Paul Strathern’s book Sartre in 90 Minutes, Jean-Paul Sartre experimented with mescaline, and his description of ultimate reality (in Nausea) as “viscous and obscene” was written under mescaline’s influence.

 

Sartre in 90 Minutes (Philosophers in 90 Minutes Series): Paul ...

 

  • George Carlin mentions mescaline use during his youth while being interviewed.

 

A Life in Focus: George Carlin, American standup comedian who ...

 

  • Carlos Santana told in 1989 about his mescaline use in a Rolling Stone interview.

 

Carlos Santana On World Cafe : World Cafe : NPR

 

  • Disney animator Ward Kimball described participating in a study of mescaline and peyote conducted by UCLA in the 1960s.

 

Ward Kimball - D23

 

  • Michael Cera used real mescaline for the movie Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus, as expressed in an interview.

 

Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus.jpg

 

  • Philip K. Dick was inspired to write Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said after taking mescaline.

 

FlowMyTearsThePolicemanSaid(1stEd).jpg

 

Before the 20th century, just a handful of people outside Indigenous American cultures had tried the extracts, but their reports sparked medical, spiritual and recreational interest for many decades.

The powers of endurance needed to take the drug became more widely known:

It induces hours of nausea and often vomiting before the hallucinations begin.

 

(In contrast to alcohol, mescaline gives you the hangover first.)

 

The hallucinations are now thought to be caused mainly by mescaline binding to and activating serotonin receptors in the brain.

In traditional ceremonial use, the hallucination phase has been reported as consistently transporting.

But outside these cultures, those eager to experiment have had disconcertingly unpredictable experiences.

 

In 1887, Texan physician John Raleigh Briggs was the first to describe, in a medical journal, his own, rather violent, symptoms — including a racing heart and difficulties breathing — after eating a small part of a ‘button’, or dried crown, of a peyote cactus.

 

Turn on, tune in and drop mescaline? One local doctor did. - Oak Cliff

 

The pharmaceutical company Parke–Davis in Detroit, Michigan, which had been investigating botanical sources of potential drugs from South America and elsewhere, took note.

The company was seeking an alternative to cocaine, whose addictive properties had become apparent.

It began offering peyote tincture as a respiratory stimulant and heart tonic in 1893.

A flurry of scientific trials began.

There was scant regard for ethics and safety — for the scientists, who frequently tested the mescaline themselves, or for test subjects.

 

Parke-Davis - Wikipedia

 

In 1895, two reports demonstrating the drug’s unpredictability came out of what is now the George Washington University in Washington DC.

In one, a young, unnamed chemist chewed peyote buttons and then noted down his symptoms:

Nausea followed by pleasant visions over which he had some control, then depression and insomnia for 18 hours.

In the other, two scientists observed the drug’s effects on a 24-year-old man, who became deluded and paranoid.

 

George Washington University - Wikipedia

 

In New York City, pharmacologists Alwyn Knauer and William Maloney carried out a more extensive trial, including 23 people, in 1913.

They hoped that mescaline, as a hallucinogen, might provide insight into the psychotic phenomena associated with schizophrenia.

It didn’t.

 

Above: John Nash, an American mathematician and joint recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics, who had schizophrenia.

His life was the subject of the 1998 book, A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar.

 

A Beautiful Mind Poster.jpg

 

The pair diligently recorded participants’ running commentaries on their hallucinations, but found no common characteristics.

(In later studies, people with schizophrenia could easily tell the difference between their own hallucinations and those induced by the drug.)

The pace of trials picked up after synthetic mescaline became available.

 

Chemist Ernst Späth at the University of Vienna was first to synthesize it, in 1919, and the German pharmaceutical company Merck marketed it the following year.

Yet trial outcomes did not become more reliable or illuminating.

Over the next couple of decades, theories that mescaline might reveal the biological basis of schizophrenia or help to cure other psychological disorders were serially dashed.

 

A white cloth with seemingly random, unconnected text sewn into it using multiple colors of thread

Above: A white cloth with seemingly random, unconnected text sewn into it using multiple colors of thread, embroidered by a schizophrenic

 

In the 1950s, the attention of biomedical researchers abruptly switched to a newly synthesized molecule with similar hallucinogenic properties but few physical side effects:

Lysergic acid diesthylamide (LSD).

 

 

First synthesized by Swiss scientist Albert Hoffmann in 1938, LSD went on to become a recreational drug of choice in the 1960s hippy era.

And, like mescaline, LSD teased psychiatrists without delivering a cure.

 

The First LSD Trip - Audio Documentary - Albert Hoffmann - YouTube

 

A study published in 2007 found no evidence of long-term cognitive problems related to peyote use in Native American Church ceremonies, but researchers stressed their results may not apply to those who use peyote in other contexts.

A four-year large-scale study of Navajo who regularly ingested peyote found only one case where peyote was associated with a psychotic break in an otherwise healthy person.

 

Flag of The Navajo Nation

Above: Flag of the Navajo Nation

 

Other psychotic episodes were attributed to peyote use in conjunction with pre-existing substance abuse or mental health problems.

Later research found that those with pre-existing mental health issues are more likely to have adverse reactions to peyote.

Peyote use does not appear to be associated with hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (a.k.a. “flashbacks“) after religious use.

Peyote does not seem to be associated with physical dependence, but some users may experience psychological dependence.

Peyote can have strong emetic effects, and one death has been attributed to esophageal bleeding caused by vomiting after peyote ingestion in a Native American patient with a history of alcohol abuse.

Peyote is also known to cause potentially serious variations in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and pupillary dilation.

Research into the Huichol natives of central-western Mexico, who have taken peyote regularly for an estimated 1,500 years or more, found no evidence of chromosome damage in either men or women.

 

Huichol Woman artisans.jpg

 

Mescaline is listed as a Schedule III controlled substance under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but peyote is specifically exempt.

Possession and use of peyote plants is legal.

 

Petition · Put the Canadian flag first · Change.org

 

This is not so in Switzerland:

Psychoactive cacti possession, sale, transport or cultivation is illegal.

 

Peyote family. Mum, kids, grandkids. 50 pence piece for scale ...

 

Cacti were cultivated as ornamental plants from the time they were first brought from the New World.

By the early 1800s, enthusiasts in Europe had large collections (often including other succulents alongside cacti).

Rare plants were sold for very high prices.

Suppliers of cacti and other succulents employed collectors to obtain plants from the wild, in addition to growing their own.

In the late 1800s, collectors turned to orchids, and cacti became less popular, although never disappearing from cultivation.

 

RARE PILOSOCEREUS PURPUREUS @J@ exotic color columnar cacti cactus ...

 

Cacti are often grown in greenhouses, particularly in regions unsuited to the cultivation of cacti outdoors, such the northern parts of Europe and North America.

Here, they may be kept in pots or grown in the ground.

 

My Cacti & Succulent plant Greenhouse collection in Ireland UPDATE ...

 

Cacti are also grown as houseplants, many being tolerant of the often dry atmosphere.

Cacti in pots may be placed outside in the summer to ornament gardens or patios, and then kept under cover during the winter.

Less drought-resistant epiphytes, such as epiphyllum hybrids, Schlumbergera (the Thanksgiving or Christmas cactus) and Hatiora (the Easter cactus), are widely cultivated as houseplants.

Hatiora saliscornioides BlKakteenT95.jpg

 

Cacti may also be planted outdoors in regions with suitable climates.

Concern for water conservation in arid regions has led to the promotion of gardens requiring less watering (xeriscaping).

For example, in California, the East Bay Municipal Utility District sponsored the publication of a book on plants and landscapes for summer-dry climates.

Cacti are one group of drought-resistant plants recommended for dry landscape gardening.

 

 

Cacti have many other uses.

 

They are used for human food and as fodder for animals, usually after burning off their spines.

 

In addition to their use as psychoactive agents, some cacti are employed in herbal medicine.

The practice of using various species of Opuntia in this way has spread from the Americas, where they naturally occur, to other regions where they grow, such as India.

 

 

Cochineal is a red dye produced by a scale insect that lives on species of Opuntia.

Long used by the peoples of Central and North America, demand fell rapidly when European manufacturers began to produce synthetic dyes in the middle of the 19th century.

Commercial production has now increased following a rise in demand for natural dyes.

 

 

Cacti are used as construction materials.

Living cactus fences are employed as barricades around buildings to prevent people breaking in.

They also used to corral animals.

 

 

The woody parts of cacti, such as Cereus repandus and Echinopsis atacamensis, are used in buildings and in furniture.

The frames of wattle and daub houses built by the Seri people of Mexico may use parts of Carnegiea gigantea.

The very fine spines and hairs (trichomes) of some cacti were used as a source of fiber for filling pillows and in weaving.

 

 

The popularity of cacti means many books are devoted to their cultivation.

The purpose of the growing medium is to provide support and to store water, oxygen and dissolved minerals to feed the plant.

In the case of cacti, there is general agreement that an open medium with a high air content is important.

When cacti are grown in containers, recommendations as to how this should be achieved vary greatly.

If asked to describe a perfect growing medium, “ten growers would give 20 different answers“.

The general recommendation of 25–75% organic-based material, the rest being inorganic such as pumice, perlite or grit, is supported by many sources.

 

Secrets of Growing Cacti and Succulents | Indoor cactus plants ...

 

Semi-desert cacti need careful watering.

General advice is hard to give, since the frequency of watering required depends on where the cacti are being grown, the nature of the growing medium, and the original habitat of the cacti.

More cacti are lost through the “untimely application of water than for any other reason” and that even during the dormant winter season, cacti need some water.

 

How to Save a Dying Cactus: 15 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow

 

Other sources say that water can be withheld during winter (November to March in the Northern Hemisphere).

Another issue is the hardness of the water.

Where it is necessary to use hard water, regular re-potting is recommended to avoid the build up of salts.

The general advice given is that during the growing season, cacti should be allowed to dry out between thorough waterings.

A water meter can help in determining when the soil is dry.

 

Kamstrup introduces first ever smart water meter with Sigfox ...

 

Although semi-desert cacti may be exposed to high light levels in the wild, they may still need some shading when subjected to the higher light levels and temperatures of a greenhouse in summer.

Allowing the temperature to rise above 32 °C (90 °F) is not recommended.

 

What Temperature Is Too Hot For Cactus? | CactusWay

 

The minimum winter temperature required depends very much on the species of cactus involved.

For a mixed collection, a minimum temperature of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 10 °C (50 °F) is often suggested, except for cold-sensitive genera such as Melocactus and Discocactus.

Some cacti, particularly those from the high Andes, are fully frost-hardy when kept dry (e.g. Rebutia minuscula survives temperatures down to −9 °C (16 °F) in cultivation) and may flower better when exposed to a period of cold.

 

Is there a such thing as a snow cactus? - Quora

 

Cacti can be propagated by seed, cuttings or grafting.

Seed sown early in the year produces seedlings that benefit from a longer growing period.

Seed is sown in a moist growing medium and then kept in a covered environment, until 7–10 days after germination, to avoid drying out.

A very wet growing medium can cause both seeds and seedlings to rot.

A temperature range of 18–30 °C (64–86 °F) is suggested for germination.

Soil temperatures of around 22 °C (72 °F) promote the best root growth.

Low light levels are sufficient during germination, but afterwards semi-desert cacti need higher light levels to produce strong growth, although acclimatization is needed to conditions in a greenhouse, such as higher temperatures and strong sunlight.

 

Amazon.com : Cactus Seed Mix - Mixed Cacti Species - Variety ...

Reproduction by cuttings makes use of parts of a plant that can grow roots.

Some cacti produce “pads” or “joints” that can be detached or cleanly cut off.

Other cacti produce offsets that can be removed.

Otherwise, stem cuttings can be made, ideally from relatively new growth.

It is recommended that any cut surfaces be allowed to dry for a period of several days to several weeks until a callus forms over the cut surface.

Rooting can then take place in an appropriate growing medium at a temperature of around 22 °C (72 °F).

 

MADAGASCAR: Cactus plants increase biogas production tenfold ...

 

Grafting is used for species difficult to grow well in cultivation or that cannot grow independently, such as some chlorophyll-free forms with white, yellow or red bodies, or some forms that show abnormal growth (e.g., cristate or monstrose forms).

For the host plant (the stock), growers choose one that grows strongly in cultivation and is compatible with the plant to be propagated: the scion.

The grower makes cuts on both stock and scion and joins the two, binding them together while they unite.

Various kinds of graft are used—flat grafts, where both scion and stock are of similar diameters, and cleft grafts, where a smaller scion is inserted into a cleft made in the stock.

Commercially, huge numbers of cacti are produced annually.

 

Tips for Grafting Cacti | World of Succulents

 

For example, in 2002 in Korea alone, 49 million plants were propagated, with a value of almost US$9 million.

Most of them (31 million plants) were propagated by grafting.

 

Flag of South Korea - Colours, Meaning, History

 

A range of pests attack cacti in cultivation.

Those that feed on sap include:

  • mealybugs, living on both stems and roots

 

Mealybugs of flower stem, Yogyakarta, 2014-10-31.jpg

 

  • scale insects, generally only found on stems

 

 

  • whiteflies, which are said to be an “infrequent” pest of cacti

 

Weisse-Fliege.jpg

 

  • red spider mites, which are very small but can occur in large numbers, constructing a fine web around themselves and badly marking the cactus via their sap sucking, even if they do not kill it

 

The effects of their feeding are clearly visible.

 

  • thrips, which particularly attack flowers.

 

 

Some of these pests are resistant to many insecticides, although there are biological controls available.

 

Above: Pesticide application can artificially select for resistant pests.

In this diagram, the first generation happens to have an insect with a heightened resistance to a pesticide (red).

After pesticide application, its descendants represent a larger proportion of the population, because sensitive pests (white) have been selectively killed.

After repeated applications, resistant pests may comprise the majority of the population.

 

 

Roots of cacti can be eaten by the larvae of sciarid flies and fungus gnats.

 

Sciara.hemerobioides.2.jpg

 

Slugs and snails also eat cacti.

 

Arion sp., from Vancouver, BC

Grapevinesnail 01.jpg

 

Fungi, bacteria and viruses attack cacti, the first two particularly when plants are over-watered.

Fusarium rot can gain entry through a wound and cause rotting accompanied by red-violet mold.

 

K7725-1-sm.jpg

 

Helminosporium rot” is caused by Bipolaris cactivora (syn. Helminosporium cactivorum).

Phytophthora species also cause similar rotting in cacti.

Fungicides may be of limited value in combating these diseases.

Several viruses have been found in cacti, including cactus virus X.

These appear to cause only limited visible symptoms, such as chlorotic (pale green) spots and mosaic effects (streaks and patches of paler color).

However, in an Agave species, cactus virus X has been shown to reduce growth, particularly when the roots are dry.

There are no treatments for virus diseases.

 

As aforementioned, Jardín de Cactus was the last intervention work César Manrique performed in Lanzarote.

The artist from Lanzarote could see beyond how run down the ancient rofera was.

Roferas were the quarries that raids are taken from to create a very particular home for cactaceae flowers from all over the world.

 

La Rofera (Teseguite) - 2020 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go ...

 

Surrounded by the largest cactus plantation of the island, dedicated to crops of cochineal insect, a product of great financial relevance in Lanzarote in the 19th Century.

Jardín de Cactus has around 4,500 specimens of 450 different species, of 13 different families of cactus from the five continents.

The green shade of the plants stands out against the blue sky and the dark volcano creating a harmonious explosion of colour that impresses visitors.

The only sounds that break the peace and quiet that prevails, are singing birds and buzzing insects, enjoying their very own oasis.

High volcanic ash monoliths, that maintain the memory of years gone by, challenging plants from America, Africa and Oceania.

At the top, on a small hill, windmills can be seen on the horizon, still standing, where Canarian cornmeal was ground dating back to the 19th century.

 

Cactus sobre negro volcánico en Lanzarote | El Viajero | EL PAÍS

 

While I have never been a big fan of cacti, I must admit that I was delightedly surprised by the Jardín’s display of such a wide variety of cacti, in all shapes, sizes and colours.

The impression we got from our guidebooks was that the Jardín was a large garden type set-up where you could walk around and basically get lost in a world of cacti.

Granted it is a large collection of cacti assembled and arranged in a quarry-type environment on different levels.

It is certainly impressive and the range of plants is extensive, but once you have paid the entrance fee and have passed through onto the uppermost level you have seen everything at a single glance.

 

Jardin de Cactus - Lanzarote - 2018-09-13 | Jardin de Cactus… | Flickr

 

And that is this attraction’s disadvantage.

You can go down to the lower levels and get up close to the individual plants but not too close.

As slow travellers it took us about an hour to see all there is to see, but most fellow tourists seemed sated with the Jardín within 30 minutes.

The reason why folks are quickly bored despite the bounty and beauty on display is that more information (such as that written above) about the cacti would be useful and entertaining.

 

Jardin De Cactus Lanzarote - Free photo on Pixabay

 

Why did Manrique choose cacti?

Did he visit Mexico?

Did he try peyote?

Could peyote have inspired his art and architecture?

Are these psychoactive cacti part of the Jardín’s collection?

And what of the stories and legends behind each type of cactus?

 

If Journalists Value Diversity Why Are Newsrooms So White? | WYPR

 

In 1984, it was decided that the Cactaceae Section of the International Organization for Succulent Plant Study should set up a working party, now called the International Cactaceae Systematics Group (ICSG), to produce consensus classifications down to the level of genera.

Their system has been used as the basis of subsequent classifications.

Detailed treatments published in the 21st century have divided the family into around 125–130 genera and 1,400–1,500 species, which are then arranged into a number of tribes and subfamilies.

 

The New Cactus Lexicon, Volumes I and II: Descriptions and ...

 

The ICSG classification of the cactus family recognizes four subfamilies, the largest of which is divided into nine tribes:

  • Subfamily Pereskioideae

The only genus is Pereskia.

It has features considered closest to the ancestors of the Cactaceae.

Plants are trees or shrubs with leaves.

Their stems are smoothly round in cross section, rather than being ribbed or having tubercles.

It is a genus of 17 tropical species and varieties of cacti that do not look much like other types of cacti, having substantial leaves and thin stems.

They originate from the region between Brazil and Mexico.

Members of this genus are usually referred to as lemon vines, rose cacti or leaf cacti, though the latter also refers to the genus Epiphyllum.

The genus is named after Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580 – 1637), a 16th-century French botanist.

 

 

The genus is not of great economic importance.

 

 

  • Pereskia aculeata

The fruit are edible, widely cultivated.

Fruits containing numerous small seeds.

It somewhat resembles the gooseberry in appearance and is of excellent flavor.

This plant is a declared weed in South Africa.

 

 

 

  • Pereskia guamacho

The fruit are edible, collected from wild plants.

 

 

  • Pereskia bleo

The crushed leaves have been used to clarify drinking water.

 

  • Pereskia lychnidiflora

The spines are 12 cm long and have been used as needles in Guatemala.

 

  • Pereskia grandifolia

Cultivated for flowers.

The most common usage being as hedges.

They are easily transplanted and quickly grow into an impenetrable thicket, as well as flowering prolifically.

 

Pereskia grandifolia2.jpg

 

  • Pereskia aculeata

In horticulture being more tolerant of moisture than more succulent cacti, they can be used as rootstock for grafting of Zygo cactus to create miniature trees.

 

  • Subfamily Opuntioideae

It contains 15 genera divided into five tribes.

The subfamily encompasses roughly 220-250 species, and is geographically distributed throughout the New World from Canada, to Argentina.

They may have leaves when they are young, but these are lost later.

Their stems are usually divided into distinct “joints” or “pads” (cladodes).

Plants vary in size from the small cushions of Maihueniopsis to treelike species of Opuntia, rising to 10 m (33 ft) or more.

Opuntioideae are unique among cacti for lacking in the stem a thick cortex, an extensive system of cortical bundles, collapsible cortical cells, and medullary bundles.

Typically, the epidermis consists of a single layer of irregularly shaped cells, a cuticle at least 1-2 microns thick, and long, uniseriate trichomes in the areoles.

Opuntioideae have a hypodermis of at least one layer, very thick walls, and druses (aggregations of calcium oxalate crystals), and their cortical cells have enlarged nuclei.

The reason for this is unknown.

They also possess mucilage cells.

Notably, their lack of collapsible cortical cells, ribs, and tubercles mean that they cannot absorb water or transfer it intercellularly as easily as the other cacti, so this may place evolutionary constraints on the aridity of habitats and maximum adult size.

One adaptation around this problem is the evolution of flattened cladodes that allow opuntioids to swell up with water, increasing in volume without an increase in surface area risking water loss.

Opuntioids also lack fiber caps to their phloem bundles, which in other cacti protect against sucking insects and stiffen developing internodes.

 

 

  • Subfamily Maihuenioideae

They are found at high elevation habitats of Andean Argentina and Chile.

The only genus is Maihuenia, with two species, both of which form low-growing mats.
It has some features that are primitive within the cacti.
Plants have leaves, and crassulean acid metabolism is wholly absent.
  • Subfamily Cactoideae
Divided into nine tribes, this is the largest subfamily, including all the “typical” cacti.
Members are highly variable in habit, varying from tree-like to epiphytic.
Leaves are normally absent, although sometimes very reduced leaves are produced by young plants.
Stems are usually not divided into segments, and are ribbed or tuberculate.
Two of the tribes, Hylocereeae and Rhipsalideae, contain climbing or epiphytic forms with a rather different appearance.
Their stems are flattened and may be divided into segments.

Cactus flowers are pollinated by insects, birds and bats.

None are known to be wind-pollinated and self-pollination occurs in only a very few species.

For example the flowers of some species of Frailea do not open (cleistogamy).

The need to attract pollinators has led to the evolution of pollination syndromes, which are defined as groups of “floral traits, including rewards, associated with the attraction and utilization of a specific group of animals as pollinators.

 

Bees are the most common pollinators of cacti.

Bee-pollination is considered to have been the first to evolve.

 

Tetragonula carbonaria (14521993792).jpg

 

Day-flying butterflies and nocturnal moths are associated with different pollination syndromes.

Butterfly-pollinated flowers are usually brightly colored, opening during the day, whereas moth-pollinated flowers are often white or pale in color, opening only in the evening and at night.

As an example, Pachycereus schottii is pollinated by a particular species of moth, Upiga virescens, which also lays its eggs among the developing seeds its caterpillars later consume.

The flowers of this cactus are funnel-shaped, white to deep pink, up to 4 cm (1.6 in) long, and open at night.

 

Pachycereus schottii (5782222323).jpg

 

Hummingbirds are significant pollinators of cacti.

Species showing the typical hummingbird-pollination syndrome have flowers with colours towards the red end of the spectrum, anthers and stamens that protrude from the flower, and a shape that is not radially symmetrical, with a lower lip that bends downwards.

They produce large amounts of nectar with a relatively low sugar content.

Schlumbergera species, such as S. truncata, have flowers that correspond closely to this syndrome.

Other hummingbird-pollinated genera include Cleistocactus and Disocactus.

 

Trinidad and Tobago hummingbirds composite.jpg

 

Bat-pollination is relatively uncommon in flowering plants, but about a quarter of the genera of cacti are known to be pollinated by bats—an unusually high proportion, exceeded among eudicots by only two other families, both with very few genera.

Columnar cacti growing in semidesert areas are among those most likely to be bat-pollinated.

This may be because bats are able to travel considerable distances, so are effective pollinators of plants growing widely separated from one another.

The pollination syndrome associated with bats includes a tendency for flowers to open in the evening and at night, when bats are active.

 

A researcher holds a Mexican free-tailed bat

 

Other features include:

  • a relatively dull color, often white or green
  • a radially symmetrical shape, often tubular
  • a smell described as “musty
  • the production of a large amount of sugar-rich nectar.

Carnegiea gigantea is an example of a bat-pollinated cactus, as are many species of Pachycereus and Pilosocereus.

Above: Flowers of saguaro showing flattish white flowers adapted for bat pollination

 

The fruits produced by cacti after the flowers have been fertilized vary considerably.

Many are fleshy, although some are dry.

All contain a large number of seeds.

Fleshy, colorful and sweet-tasting fruits are associated with seed dispersal by birds.

The seeds pass through their digestive systems and are deposited in their droppings.

Fruit that falls to the ground may be eaten by other animals.

 

Green fruit of Schlumbergera cut in half, lying on a cutting board.

 

Giant tortoises are reported to distribute Opuntia seeds in the Galápagos Islands.

 

Adult Galápagos tortoise

 

Ants appear to disperse the seeds of a few genera, such as Blossfeldia.

 

Fire ants 01.jpg

 

Drier spiny fruits may cling to the fur of mammals or be moved around by the wind.

 

 

Cacti are such commonplace plants, of the type with which even the laziest of gardeners could theoretically cope.

 

Can You Drink Water from a Cactus? | Britannica

 

But perhaps it is this family of plants Manrique was referring to when he wrote:

I have always sought in nature its essential condition, its hidden sense, the meaning of my life.

The wonder and mystery which I have found on that long exploratory trail are as real, as apparent, as tangible reality.

My joie de vivre, my joy at the fact of constant creation, derives from the study, the contemplation and the love of Nature’s grandiose wisdom.

 

César Manrique's Death - Lanzarote Information

 

Lanzarote’s rough, dark, volcanic terrain is one which we learn to love with every crunch of our footsteps in the sand.

The wind, the sand, the houses and the people portray an island in constant motion.

An island with a past and with history, with a present and an identity, with a harmonious, respectful and sustainable future.

 

Following in the footsteps of Cesar Manrique in Lanzarote ...

 

The Cactus Garden is a magnificent example of an architectural intervention integrated into a landscape, where the pairing of art and nature is tangible and vibrant.

And an hour paused at this Jardín is in my opinion an hour not wasted, time and money well spent in the wonder and contemplation of the miracle of life that everyone assumes they know but few have discovered.

 

Werke von César Manrique in Spanien | spain.info auf deutsch

 

Perhaps the cacti can teach us other lessons as well:

There are five cacti on my windowsill
And a bonsai tree, living happily together
In any kind of weather they get along.
At first I was surprised
To see how they were faring
With all those shapes and sizes
You’d think there’d be some staring
But they didn’t seem to mind
That some were much to tall
No condensending looks were cast on those that were still small.
There are five cacti on my windowsill
And a bonsai tree, living happily together
In any kind of weather they get along.
You won’t get these prickly friends of mine
Comparing shades of green
Or having silly arguments
About differences between them
On the whole they’re quite accepting
When all is said and done
They’re a group of individuals reaching out towards the sun.
The Cactus Song by The Lads - YouTube
Individuals reaching out towards the sun…..
Such are the cacti of Guatiza.
Desert Cactus - DesertUSA
Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Lonely Planet Canary Islands / Fernando Gómez Aguilera, César Manrique in His Own Words / Wolfgang Borsich, Lanzarote and César Manrique: Seven Buildings / Jorge Echenique and Andrés Murillo, Lanzarote / Eberhard Fohrer, Lanzarote / Raimundo Rodríguez, Lanzarote / Ignacio Romero, Lanzarote: A Hiking Guide / http://www.cactlanzarote.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Slim and the Humanitarian Adventure

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Tuesday 10 December 2019

There are things in Switzerland (and in our existence) that we simply take for granted:

And the thing about Swiss stereotypes is that some of them are true.

Diplomatic?

Yes.

Efficient?

Absolutely.

Boring?

Only at first glance.

Despite being one of the most visited countries in Europe, Switzerland remains one of the least understood.

It is more than simply the well-ordered land of cheese, chocolate, banks and watches.

It is more than a warm summer mountain holiday upon a cobalt blue lake, more than skiing down the slopes of some vertiginous Alp, more than postcard pristine beauty.

It is easy for the tourist to remain blissfully unaware of Swiss community spirit, that it speaks four official languages, that it possesses stark regional differences from canton to canton, that it has exubrant carnivals, culinary traditions and sophisticated urban centres.

 

Flag of Switzerland

 

With its beautiful lakeside setting, Geneva (Genève) is a cosmopolitan city whose modest size belies its wealth and importance on the world stage.

French-speaking and Calvinistic it is a dynamic centre of business with an outward-looking character tempered by a certain reserve.

Geneva’s major sights are split by the Rhône River that flows into Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and through the city’s several distinct neighbourhoods.

On the south bank (rive gauche), mainstream shopping districts Rive and Eaux-Vives climb from the water’s edge to Plainpalais and Vieille Ville, while the north bank (rive droite) holds grungy bars and hot clubbing Pâquis, the train station area and some world organizations.

 

A view over Geneva and the lake

 

A little over 1 km north of the train station is the international area, home to dozens of international organizations that are based in Geneva –  everything from the World Council of Churches to Eurovision.

Trains and buses roll up to the Place des Nations.

Gates on the Place des Nations open to the Palais des Nations, now occupied by UNOG, the United Nations Office at Geneva, the European headquarters of the United Nations, accessible only to visitors who sign up for a tour.

The huge monolith just off the square to the west, that looks like a bent playing card on its edge, is WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization), the highrise to the south is ITU (the International Telecommunications Union), just to the east is UNHCR (the United Nations High Commission for Refugees), and so on, and so on, and so on, an infinite combination of letters of the alphabet in an infinite variety of abbreviations and acronyms.

The giant Broken Chair which looms over the square was installed in 1997 for the international conference in Ottawa (Canada’s capital) banning the use of land mines, a graphic symbol of the victims of such weapons.

 

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Geneva is also the birthplace of the International Red Cross / Crescent / Crystal Movement.

And it was the latter, along with the International Museum of the Reformation, that compelled me to visit Geneva.

 

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(For details about the Musée Internationale de la Réforme, please see Canada Slim and the Third Man in my other blog, The Chronicles of Canada Slim.)

 

Genevè, Suisse, mardi le 23 janvier 2018

Housed within the HQ of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Musée International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant Rouge chronicles the history of modern conflict and the role the Red Cross has played in providing aid to combatants and civilians caught up in war and natural disasters.

Enter through a trench in the hillside opposite the public entrance of UNOG and emerge into an enclosed glass courtyard beside a group of bound and blindfolded stone figures.

The stone gathering represents the continual worldwide violation of human rights.

 

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Inside, above the ticket desk, is a quotation in French from Dostoevsky:

Everyone is responsible to everyone else for everything.

 

Portrait by Vasili Perov, 1872

Above: Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881)

 

A free audioguide takes you through the Museum.

 

Twenty-five years ago, Laurent Marti, a former ICRC delegate, had the idea of creating the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

 

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Above: Laurent Marti

 

Marti won the wives of US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev over to his cause in a bid to obtain the support of their respective countries, together with that of local and international societies and personages and of various multinational companies representing a full range of human activities.

 

Nancy Reagan.jpg

Above: Nancy Reagan (née Davis) (1921 – 2016)

 

RIAN archive 684237 Raisa Gorbacheva, spouse of CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.jpg

Above: Raisa Gorbacheva (née Titarenko) (1932 – 1999)

 

The goal of the Museum is to emanate a very powerful atmosphere where no one leaves without having been shaken and deeply moved by what they had seen.

Suffering, death, wounds and mutiliations can be followed by a time of healing, restoration, reunification and an opportunity to be happy again, a right that seemed to have been withdrawn.

Of course, the scars remain deep within the human soul, but the hope of restoration and of a return to normalcy is the message of the Museum.

 

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The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is dedicated to preventing and alleviating human suffering in warfare and in emergencies, such as earthquakes, epidemics and floods.

The Movement is composed of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the 188 individual national societies.

Each has its own legal identity and role, but they are all united by seven fundamental principles:

  •  humanity
  •  impartiality
  •  neutrality
  •  independence
  •  voluntary service
  •  unity
  •  universality

The interactive chronology covers one and a half centuries of history, starting with the creation of the Red Cross.

For each year, the events listed include:

  •  armed conflicts which caused the death of more than 10,000 people and/or affected more than one million people
  •  epidemics and disasters that caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people and/or affected more than one million people
  •  significant events in the history of the Movement
  •  cultural and scientific milestones

 

Flag of the ICRC.svg

 

In 1859 Henri Dunant was travelling on business through northern Italy.

 

Henry Dunant-young.jpg

Above: Henri Dunant (1828 – 1910)

 

He found himself close to the Solferino battlefield just after the fighting.

The battle of Solferino was a key episode in the Italian Wars.

 

Yvon Bataille de Solferino Compiegne.jpg

 

With the support of France under Napoleon III, Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, King of Piedmont, endeavoured to unite the different Italian states.

In spring 1859 the Piedmont forces clashed with the Austrian Empire, which had control over Lombardy and Venetia.

On 24 June 1859, the Franco-Piedmontese troops defeated the Austrians at Solferino, in a battle that left more than 40,000 dead and wounded.

Overwhelmed by the sight of thousands of wounded soldiers left without medical care, Dunant organized basic relief with the assistance of the local people.

 

 

On that memorable 24th of June 1859, more than 300,000 men stood facing each other.

The fighting continued for more than 15 hours.

No quarter is given.

It is a sheer butchery, a struggle between savage beasts.

The poor wounded men that were picked up all day long were ghastly pale and exhausted.

Some, who had been the most badly hurt, had a stupified look.

How many brave soldiers, undettered by their first wounds, kept pressing on until a fresh shot brought them to earth.

Men of all nations lay side by side on the flagstone floors of the churches of Castiglione.

The shortage of assistants, orderlies and helpers was cruelly felt.

I sought to organize as best I could relief.

The women of Castiglione, seeing that I made no distinction between nationalities, followed my example.

Siamo tutti fratelli” (we are all brothers), they repeated feelingly.

 

Above: Ossuary of Solferino

 

But why have I told of all these scenes of pain and distress?

Is it not a matter of urgency to press forward to prevent or at least alleviate the horrors of war?

Would it not be possible, in time of peace and quiet, to form relief societies given to the wounded in wartime?

Societies of this kind, once formed and their permanent existence assured, would be always organized and ready for the possibility of war.

Would it not be desirable to formulate some international principle, sanctioned by a Convention inviolate in character, which, once agreed upon and ratified, might constitute the basis for societies for the relief of the wounded?

 

Above: Ossuary of Solferino

 

Back home in Geneva, Dunant wrote A Memory of Solferino.

The book was published in 1862 and was an immediate success.

 

 

In it, Dunant made two proposals:

  • the formation of relief societies which would care for wounded soldiers
  • the establishment of an international convention to guarantee their safety

Those ideas led, the following year, to the foundation of the Red Cross, and ten months later to the first Geneva Convention.

 

 

In 1863, in response to Dunant’s appeal, Gustave Moynier persuaded the Geneva Public Welfare Society to consider the possibility of training groups of volunteer nurses to provide relief for the wounded.

A committee was set up, the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, the future ICRC, was born.

 

Above: Gustave Moynier (1826 – 1910)

 

The need to defend human dignity has been a constant concern throughout history.

From the Code of Hammurabi (1750 BC) to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), texts from all periods and cultures exist to testify to that.

Those texts were frequently written in response to incidents in which human dignity was shown no consideration – slavery, chemical weapons, civilian bombing, concentration camps, atomic bombing, sexual violence, landmines, child soldiers, prisoners with no legal status.

Throughout time mankind has determined:

  • that the strong should not suppress the weak (Code of Hammurabi – Mwaopotamia 1750 BC)

Above: Stele of the Code of Hammurabi

 

  • that peace is possible between warring nations (Treaty of Kadesh, the oldest peace treaty known to man and the first written international treaty –  Egypt 1279 BC)

Treaty of Kadesh.jpg

Above: Treaty of Kadesh

 

  • that we should be free to practice our own religions (Cyrus Cylinder – Persia 539 BC)

Front view of a barrel-shaped clay cylinder resting on a stand. The cylinder is covered with lines of cuneiform text

Above: Cyrus Cylinder

 

  • that we should not do unto others what we don’t wish done to ourselves (The Analects of Confucius – China 480 BC)

Rongo Analects 02.jpg

Above: The Analects

  • that we should live lives of non-violence with respect towards all (The Edicts of Ashoka – India 260 BC)

Ashoka Lauriya Areraj inscription.jpg

Above: The Edicts of Ashoka

 

  • that power should not be used arbitrarily nor imprisonment without just cause (The Magna Carta – England 1215)

Magna Carta (British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106).jpg

Above: Magna Carta

 

  • that all persons are free and that no one is a slave to another (The Manden Charter – Mali 1222)

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Above: The Manden Charter

 

  • that women and children and the insane have dignity and rights that must be respected (The Viqayet – Muslim Spain 1280)

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  • that mankind has natural and inalienable rights (freedom, equality, justice, community) (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – France 1789)

 

  • that the wounded need to be treated regardless of nationality, that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and in rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights – United Nations 1948)

The universal declaration of human rights 10 December 1948.jpg

 

The original title of the initial Geneva Convention was the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field.

It had only ten articles and one sole objective:

To limit the suffering caused by war.

Article 7 provided for the creation of the protective emblem of the red cross.

This document laid the foundations of international humanitarian law, marks the start of the humanitarian adventure.

By 2013, 194 nations are party to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.

(See http://www.icrc.org for the complete list.)

 

The Museum explains how the Geneva Conventions developed from one man’s battlefield encounter.

After Dunant’s publication of A Memory of Solferino in November 1862, Gustave Moynier (1826 – 1910), chairman of the Geneva Public Welfare Society, in response to Dunant’s appeal, persuaded Society members the following February to consider the possibility of training groups of volunteer nurses to provide relief for the war wounded.

An ad hoc committee was set up – the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded.

The future ICRC was born.

 

Above: ICRC Headquarters, Geneva

 

Ambulances and military hospitals shall be recognized as neutral and as such protected and respected by the belligerants as long as they accommodate wounded and sick.” (Article 1)

Inhabitants of the country who bring help to the wounded shall be respected and shall remain free.” (Article 5)

Wounded or sick combatants, to whatever nation they may belong, shall be collected and cared for.” (Article 6)

A distinctive and uniform flag shall be adopted for hospitals, ambulances and evacuation parties.” (Article 7)

A red cross on a white background was adopted in 1863, followed by a red crescent, a red lion and red sun (1929) and a red crystal (2005).

Flag of the Red Cross.svg

Flag of the Red Crescent.svg

Red Lion with Sun.svgFlag of the Red Crystal.svg

 

To protect the victims of conflict, the ICRC has at its disposal several instruments defined by international humanitarian law.

“At all times, parties to the conflict shall, without delay, take all possible measures to search for and collect the wounded and sick.”

“The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack.”

“The parties to the conflict shall endeavour to conclude local agreements for the passage of medical personnel and medical equipment.”

“Civilian hospitals may in no circumstances be the object of attack.”

“It is prohibited to commit any acts of hostility directed against historic monuments, works of art or places of worship.”

“Works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear stations shall not be made the object of attack.”

“It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensible to the survival of the civilian population.”

 

Above: The Red Cross in action, 1864

 

The Second World War (1939 – 1945) involved 61 countries in war and caused the death of around 60 million people, more than half of whom were civilians.

In 1945 more than 20 million people had been displaced.

In 1995 the ICRC publicly described its attitude to the Second World War Holocaust as a “moral failure“.

 

Infobox collage for WWII.PNG

Above: Images of World War II (1939 – 1945)

 

The persecution of the Jews by the Nazis began shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933 and subsequently continued to intensify, culminating in systematic extermination from 1942 onwards.

 

Selection on the ramp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1944 (Auschwitz Album) 1a.jpg

Above: Auschwitz, Poland, May 1944

 

At the time, the ICRC had no legal instrument to protect civilians.

The 1929 Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War applied only to members of the armed forces.

The organization thus considered itself powerless in the face of the anti-Semitic fury of the Nazi dictatorship.

 

Flag of Germany

 

Thus in October 1942 the Committee refused, in particular, to launch a public appeal on behalf of civilians affected by the conflict.

Although the International Red Cross endeavoured to provide aid for Jewish civilians, it erred on the side of caution.

 

Above: Jewish women, occupied Paris, June 1942

 

It was not until the spring of 1944 that a change of strategy took shape.

As Germany’s war efforts collapsed, ICRC delegates belatedly managed to enter some concentration camps, becoming voluntary hostages in order to prevent the further massacre or forced evacution of the prisoners.

 

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-N0827-318, KZ Auschwitz, Ankunft ungarischer Juden.jpg

Above: Auschwitz, May 1944

 

The harsh lesson of the Second World War had been learned.

In 1949 the Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted:

It provides protection for civilians during armed conflict.

It was complemented in 1977 by additional protocols which reinforce the protection given to victims of armed conflicts, international or domestic.

In particular, the additional protocols established the distinction between civilians and combatants.

 

In an armed conflict, the ICRC’s mandate is to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.

When the ICRC observes serious violations of the Conventions, it points them out to the countries concerned in confidential reports.

However, on occasion, that information has been published in the press:

  • Le Monde during the Algerian War

Algerian war collage wikipedia.jpg

Above: Images of the Algerian War (1954 – 1962)

 

  • The Wall Street Journal about Abu Ghraib Prison

Above: Lynndie England with “Gus“, Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq

 

  • The New York Review of Books / Wikileaks about Guantanamo Prison

Above: Guantanamo “Gitmo” Prison, Cuba

 

Such leaks put the ICRC in a difficult position as discretion is a necessary part of its work and its discussions with the authorities.

Its confidentialiy policy actually facilitates access to detainees, wounded people and groups of civilians.

When humanitarian diplomacy fails, the ICRC then resorts to a more open form of communication.

It then issues press releases publicly condemning serious violations of the Conventions.

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In the 1980s the United Nations Security Council set up ad hoc tribunals to judge the crimes committed in former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda.

In 1998 the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established.

It was a permanent institution with the power to open investigations, to prosecute and to try people accused of committing war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity.

The ICC began its work in 2005 by opening three investigations into crimes:

  • in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • in Uganda
  • in the Sudan

The existence of a permanent international court gives the world the means of determining facts and of punishing those responsible for the crimes.

It gives victims an opportunity to have their voice heard.

 

Official logo of International Criminal Court Cour pénale internationale  (French)

Above: Logo of the International Criminal Court

 

Poverty, migration, urban violence….

All of them are present-day threats to human dignity.

All over the world, large sections of the population are living in extremely precarious hygenic conditions.

 

Economic changes are forcing more and more people to emigrate.

Those migrants, who frequently have no identity documents, are exploited and ostracized.

In some megacities, whole districts are at the mercy of armed groups which terrorize the inhabitants.

Each of those situations presents a challenge to which a response must be found.

 

Above: Syrian refugees, Ramtha, Jordan, August 2013

 

Since the First World War, the ICRC has had the right to visit prisoners of war and civilian detainees during an international armed conflict.

In other situations, the right to meet prisoners must be negotiated with the authorities.

Visiting prisons, talking to the detainees and making lists of their names are ways of preventing disappearances and ill treatment.

After each prison visit, ICRC delegates write a report.

They must have access to all places of detention and be allowed to repeat their visits as often as necessary.

The visits always follow the same procedure.

Following a meeting with those in charge of the prison, the delegates inspect the premises: cells, dormitories, toilets, the exercise yard, the kitchen and any workshops.

They draw up a list of prisoners and interview them in private without witnesses.

At the end of the visit, the delegates inform those in charge of the prison of their observations.

They then prepare a confidential report for the authorities.

 

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The visitor sees many photographs of prison visits, including those to a German POW camp in Morocco, to French POWs in a German Stalag, political detainees in Chile, detainees in Djibouti….

But it is items from these visits given by prisoners to the ICRC delegates that tell far more emotional stories.

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Some examples:

  • a model village showing ICRC activities in Rwanda
  • a doll figure of a female delegate made in an Argentinian prison
  • a pearl snake made by Ottoman prisoners
  • a necklace with a Red Cross pendant made by a lady prisoner in Lebanon
  • a ciborium (a container for Catholic mass hosts – symbols of the body of Christ) made of bread by Polish prisoners of conscience
  • a bar of soap carved into the shape of a detainee in a cell made by a Burmese artist imprisoned for suspected ties to the opposition party

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An installation in the Museum that followed seemed somewhat incongruous….

Therein the visitor can change and produce large flows of different colours by touching a wall.

The idea is that the larger the number of visitors, the richer the flow of colours, so as to provide an interactive experience that appeals to people’s senses, emotions and feelings, thus all visitors become part of a colourful celebration of human dignity.

Honestly….

This felt more like a gimmick to capture children’s hyperactive attention than an exhibit that strengthens human unity, designed more to entertain than educate.

 

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Human beings are social beings who are defined by their links with others.

When those links are broken, we lose part of our identity and our bearings.

Of the many activities the ICRC performs, the giving and receiving of news and finding one’s loved ones again are understood to be elements of stability that are critical during crisis situations.

 

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This Museum has, like the Reformation Museum in this city, as other museums in other cities and countries I have visited, its own Chamber of Witnesses – video testimonials whose lifelike likenesses are meant to invoke within the voyeur a sense of how we are not unlike those speaking with us electronically.

We see Toshihiko Suzuki, a dentist and specialist in craniofacial anatomy, tell us how he identified victims of the 2011 tsunami.

We learn of the experience of Sami El Haj, an Al Jazeera journalist held in Guantanamo from 2002 to 2008.

We consider the life of Liliose Iraguha, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.

We marvel at the resilience of human beings by listening to Boris Cyrulnik, a French neuropsychiatrist and ethologist.

 

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During a conflict or a natural disaster, many people are cut off from their families – by capitivity, separation or disappearance.

Tracing one’s loved ones and passing on one’s news become basic needs.

 

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Originally intended for victims of war, the ICRC tracing services subsequently expanded to include persecuted civilians.

More recently, tracing activities have been extended to families who have become separated as a result of natural disasters or migration.

The International Prisoners of War Agency (1914 – 1923) was established by the ICRC, shortly after the start of the First World War – which involved 44 states and their colonies and caused the death of more than 8 million people, 20 million wounded and in the immediate post-war period of epidemics, famine and destitution another 30 million deaths.

Organised in national sections, its archives contain six million index cards that document what happened to two million people: prisoners of war, civilian internees and missing civilians from occupied areas.

The cards contain information about individual detainees. when they were taken captive, where they were held and, if relevant, when they died.

People who were without news of a loved one could present a request to the Agency, which would then send them what information it had.

Today the Agency’s documents are still used to reply to requests from families as well as to enquiries from historians.

And, as far as I could tell, the Agency is now in the Museum.

It contains:

  • 5,119 boxes with 6 million index cards
  • 2,413 files containing information provided by the belligerents
  • 600,000 pages filling 20 linear metres of general files

This location is fitting for it was in the Rath Museum in Geneva where the Agency once was.

In all, more than 3,000 volunteers, most of them women, worked there during the conflict.

During the War, the Agency dispatched 20 million messages between detainees and their families and forwarded nearly 2 million individual parcels as well as several tonnes of collective relief.

The Agency’s role was also to obtain the repatriation of prisoners who had been taken captive in breach of the Geneva Conventions: doctors, nurses, stretcher bearers and military chaplains.

It helped to ensure that the wounded were returned home or interned in neutral countries.

 

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The pacifist writer Romain Rolland was one of the Agency’s first volunteers:

Its peaceful work, its impartial knowledge of the actual facts in the belligerent countries, contribute to modify the hatred which wild stories have exasperated and to reveal what remains of humanity in the most envenomed enemy.

 

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Above: Romain Rolland (1866 – 1944)

 

It was not until the end of the Second World War that Europe realized the extent of the tragedy affecting civilians.

The International Tracing Service (ITS) was then established.

The ITS has files on more than 17 million people: civilians persecuted by the Nazis, displaced persons, children under the age of 18 who had become separated from their families, forced labourers and people held in concentration camps or labour camps.

The ITS was set up in Bad Arolsen, Germany, and has helped millions of people to trace their loved ones.

 

Above: International Tracing Services, Bad Arolsen, Germany

 

Nowadays, the need to trace missing people also extends to the victims of natural disasters and to migrants, using not only index cards, but photo tracing (used to find nearly 20,000 children missing during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda), distributions of name lists (for example, the Angola Gazette – a list of people who went missing during the Angolan Civil War from 1975 to 2002) and the Internet (for example, http://www.familylinks.icrc.org).

 

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Despite all tracing efforts, sometimes missing people do not get found, do not go home.

In that case, receiving confirmation of death puts an end to uncertainty and enables families to begin the process of mourning and to start to rebuild their lives.

The erection of memorials is one way of honouring the dead and of giving them a place of dignity in the collective memory.

 

 

For example, in 1995 the city of Srebrenica was attacked by forces under the command of General Radko Mladic.

 

 

Mladic had the women and children of this refuge of hounded Muslim civilians separated from the men and forced to leave Srebrenica.

The men were hunted down and killed.

More than 8,000 people went missing.

By 2010 only 4,500 victims had been identified and buried.

 

 

When faced with a collective tragedy and without a dead body, families are completely at a loss.

A memorial is sometimes their only means of paying tribute to the dead, of giving them a place in the collective consciousness and of recalling the events that led to those disappearances.

Examples include victims from:

  • the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima

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Above: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbuko Dome)

 

  • the deportation of Jews from France

 

  • the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia

 

  • the Soviet gulags

Solovetsky Stone

 

  • the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine

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  • the civil war in Peru

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  • the earthquake in Sichuan, China

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  • the 9/11 attack in New York City

 

Communication is often disrupted during a conflict or a natural disaster.

In circumstances like that, receiving news from one’s family is a source of joy and relief.

There are different ways of sending news:

  • Red Cross messages (in use for more than a century)
  • Radio messages
  • Videoconferencing
  • Satellite telephones

 

A Red Cross message is a short personal missive that was first used in the Franco-Prussian War (1870 – 1871).

It is still in use today.

Each year, thousands of messages are distributed in more than 65 countries with the help of the ICRC.

To make sure that they reach the addressees, messengers sometimes travel long distances to extremely remote areas.

The messages themselves are generally very simple.

The main thing is to enable people to pass brief news on to their loved ones – their state of health, their place of shelter or detention.

 

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For example, the Museum shows messages:

  • sent by a French POW to his godmother in Switzerland
  • exchanged by a French POW in Morocco and Algeria and his family in France
  • written by aircraft passengers taken hostage in Jordan in 1970
  • illustrated by children during the Yugoslav conflict in 1994
  • by a Sudanese detainee in Guantanamo
  • from a Greek child refugee following the Cyprus conflict of 1974
  • from a mother to her son in Liberia
  • from a little girl writing to her parents in the Congo
  • written by a woman to her brother in prison in Kirghizstan

 

In Columbia, the radio programme Las voces del secuestro broadcasts family messages to people held hostage in the jungle, enabling more than 18,000 people to send news to their loved ones.

 

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In Bagram Prison in Afghanistan, no family visits are allowed, so in 2008 the ICRC and the American authorities developed a videoconferencing system to enable the detainees to communicate with their loved ones.

In the space of just a few months, 70% of the detainees were able to contact their families.

 

Above: Parwan Detention Facility, Bagram, Afghanistan

 

And finally the Restoring Family Links exhibition concludes with works by Congolese artist Chuck Ledy and Benin artist Romuald Hazouma.

 

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Humanity has progressed by refusing to accept the inevitability of the phenomena that endanger it.

In the face of natural disasters and epidemics, communities take action to prevent the worst, to save lives and to preserve resources.

Another Chamber of Witnesses:

  • Benter Aoko Odhiambo, the head of a Kenyan orphanage and the initiator of a market gardening programme
  • Abul Hasnat, a Bangladeshi school teacher and a Red Crescent volunteer
  • Madeleen Helmer, the Dutch head of the ICRC Climate Centre
  • Jiaqi Kang, a Chinese student in Switzerland

 

After all, prevention concerns us all.

Blast Theory, a group of British artists, designed the game Hurricane to test the effectiveness of natural disaster preparedness activities.

Planting mangroves, constructing high-level shelters, building up reserve stocks of food and organizing evacuation exercises are all part of the game and involve actors such as ICRC delegates, village leaders, experts and volunteers.

As the hurricane strikes, the players have to evacuate the villagers.

At the end of the game tells us how many lives were saved.

 

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Posters are key communication instruments in prevention initiatives.

The link between pictures and text makes the messages easy for everyone to understand.

The Museum’s collection of some 12,000 posters from more than 120 countries tells of the many different activities developed by the ICRC.

Nowadays, as the impact of global warming becomes clearer, the ICRC is increasingly involved in natural disaster preparedness.

 

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The ICRC was very quick to perceive the role that the cinema could play in promoting its activities.

Some films focused on prevention – hygiene, epidemics and accidents.

Others on training volunteers in first aid or life saving.

While preventing illnesses and accidents is ancient history, the management of risks associated with natural disasters is a more recent development.

A workshop at the Haute école d’art et de design (Gèneve) was given a free hand to create new montages using more than 1,000 films from the Museum’s collection.

 

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Above: Haute école d’art et de design, Genève

 

Prevention is first and foremost about saving lives.

A number of different measures can be taken to provide protection: building shelters, installing early warning systems, carrying out evacuation exercises and providing hygiene education.

All these activities mobilize the local communities and the humanitarian organizations.

They sometimes call for substantial investment.

It is easy to raise funds during disasters when emotions are running high.

It is more difficult to raise funds for longer-term work.

Nonetheless, one dollar invested in prevention is two to ten dollars saved in emergency relief and reconstruction work.

 

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All of this is brought into sharp focus by the three “théâtres optiques” (Cyclone, Tsunami and Latrines), created for the Museum by the French artist Pierrick Sorin.

 

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Above: Pierrick Sorin

 

Let’s take, for example, Bangladesh.

 

Flag of Bangladesh

Above: Flag of Bangladesh

 

In 1970, Cyclone Bhola caused one of the worst natural disasters in history.

A 10-metre high wave and winds of 220 km/hour caused the death of 500,000 people here.

A cyclone preparedness programme was then launched, which included an early warning system, the construction of shelters and the training of evacuation volunteers.

 

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In November 2007, Cyclone Sidr, one of the most powerful ever recorded, hit parts of Bengal and Bangladesh, affecting nearly 9 million people and causing vast economic damage.

1.5 million people were evacuated before the Cyclone struck.

Although 3,500 people died, this number of deaths was far below the 1970 disaster.

 

 

Or let’s consider Brazil.

 

Flag of Brazil

Above: Flag of Brazil

 

Infectious diarrhoea can affect people throughout the world.

It is most frequently caused by water that has been contaminated by faeces.

Around 2 million people die from diarrhoea every year, most of them children in developing countries.

In 2008 more than 2 billion individuals were without suitable latrines.

Almost half of them defecated in the open air.

In 1997, the authorities in Salvador de Bahia in Brazil launched a water purification programme in the city.

A university team monitored 2,000 children under the age of 3, most of whome were living in impoverished urban districts.

The results showed that water purification had a direct impact on health:

The overall number of cases of diarrhoea fell by 22% in the city and by 43% in the poorest areas.

 

From the top, clockwise: Pelourinho with the Church of the Third Order of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People; view of the Lacerda Elevator from the Comércio neighborhood; Barra Lighthouse; the Historic Center seen from the Bay of All Saints; monument to the heroes of the battles of Independence of Bahia and panorama of Ponta de Santo Antônio and the district of Barra.

Above: Images of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

 

The Museum was never designed with the intention of casting blame or lavishing praise upon particular countries or particular individuals, but rather it shows the situations, both general and particular, in which the ICRC functions and to further a better understanding of what they do.

The ICRC aids victims, not on account of their particular nationality or their particular cause, but purely and simply because they are human beings who are suffering and are in need of help.

It strives to assuage all human distress which has no hope of effective aid from other sources.

The ICRC desires to relieve above all that suffering which is brought about by man, brought about by man’s inhumanity to man, and is more painful on that account and more difficult to relieve.

 

The most terrible form of man’s inhumanity to man is war and that is why the idea of the Red Cross was born in the field of battle.

The Red Cross is a third front above and across two belligerent fronts, a third front directed against neither of them but for the benefit of both.

The combatants in this third front are interested only in the suffering of the defenceless human being, irrespective of his nationality, his convictions or his past.

The ICRC fights wherever they can against all inhumanity, against every degradation of the human personality, against all injustice directed against the defenceless.

These neutrals on this humanitarian front are free of the prejudice and hostility which is so natural to men engaged in warfare.

The dominant idea and the essence of the Geneva Convention is equality of treatment for all sick and wounded persons whether they are friends or enemies.

 

It is the fulfilment of the cry of Solferine:

Siamo tutti fratelli.

We are all brothers.

 

 

The Museum is a living embodiment of that humanitarian adventure.

It is an edifice of humanity working for humanity.

And it is good.

 

John Lennon

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Lonely Planet Switzerland / Rough Guide to Switzerland / Red Cross Museum, The Humanitarian Adventure / The International Committee of the Red Cross, Basic Rules of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols / Dr. Marcel Junod, Warrior without Weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Slim and the Road to Utopia

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Tuesday 27 August 2019

Sometimes a place defines a person.

Sometimes a person defines a place.

 

 

Take the eminent Canarian author Alberto Vásquez-Figueroa as an example of the first.

 

Álberto Vázquez-Figueroa in Barcelona in 2009

 

Alberto’s grandfather was an architect.

Alberto’s father was born in Guadalajara while Alberto’s grandmother was there.

Alberto’s mother, the daughter of a local farmer, was born on Isla de Lobos, one of the Canary Islands.

 

 

Alberto himself was born on 11 October 1936 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, although he had not yet reached one year old when his family was exiled for political reasons to Spanish Africa, since his father was a Socialist Republican during the Spanish Civil War.

There Alberto spent his childhood.

His father was released, but he was admitted to hospital for several years because of tuberculosis.

While Alberto was in Africa, his mother died.

 

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Alberto’s care was picked up by his uncle, the civil administrator of the military fort in the Spanish Sahara where they lived.

His uncle provided Alberto books to read, especially beloved adventure novels, by authors such as Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness), Herman Melville (Moby Dick) and Jules Verne (Around the World in 80 Days), which would later become Alberto’s preferred genre.

Since his youth, Alberto visited the Sahara and would later describe the culture of the desert region in his writing.

 

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At 16 Alberto returned to Tenerife to study, working as a scuba instructor in the Cruz del Sur Diving School, along with Jacques Cousteau, where he would remain for two years.

Alberto worked on the rescue of bodies in Lake Sanabria after the Vega de Tera Dam burst, destroying the town of Ribadelago.

 

Monumento a las víctimas de la catástrofe de Ribadelago.

Above: Monument to the victims of Ribadelago

 

He attended the studios of the Escuela Oficial de Periodismo de Madrid in a 1962 and worked in the Destino specials.

He was a war correspondent in La Vanguardia, for TVE (Televisión Española) and for the program A toda plana with de la Cuadra Salcedo and Silva.

As a correspondent, he documented revolutionary wars in countries such as Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

 

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He later wrote his first novel, Arena y viento (Sand and Wind) and in 1975, he published as many as 14 to 15 novellas such as Ébano.

His other works include Tuareg and El perro as well as the sagas Cienfuegos, Bora Bora, Manaos and Piratas.

 

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Ébano was cinematized in 1979 by director Richard Fleischer and renamed Ashanti.

Ashanti (also called Ashanti, Land of No Mercy) is a 1979 action adventure film.

Despite its impressive cast and setting (on location in the Sahara and in Kenya, Israel and Sicily), it was widely panned by critics upon release.

Michael Caine was reportedly very disappointed with the project and claims it was his third worst film.

Ashanti is an action adventure film, set against the background of modern-day slave trading, with a man who determinedly takes on a perilous journey in order to find his beautiful wife, who has been kidnapped by brutal slave traders.

David and Anansa Linderby (Caine and supermodel Beverley Johnson respectively) are doctors with the World Health Organization (WHO).

On a medical mission carrying out an inoculation programme, they visit a West African village.

While David takes photographs of tribal dancers, Anansa goes swimming alone.

She is attacked and abducted by slave traders led by Suleiman (Peter Ustinov), who mistake her for an Ashanti tribeswoman.

The police can do nothing to find her and David has almost given up hope when he hears rumours that Anansa has been kidnapped by Suleiman to be sold to Arab Prince Hassan (Omar Sharif).

The African authorities deny that the slave trade even exists.

So David must find help in a shadowy world where the rescuers of slaves are just as ruthless as the traders themselves.

As David tracks her across Africa and the Sahara desert, he is helped by a member of the Anti-Slavery League (Rex Harrison), a mercenary helicopter pilot (William Holden) and Malik (Kabir Bedi) a tribesman who is seeking revenge on Suleiman.

 

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Alberto’s novel Tuareg was cinematized in 1984 by director Enzo G. Castellari.

Tuareg is a thriller novel that was his most critically and commercially successful, with global sales in excess of 5,000,000 copies.

It was adapted into a 1984 movie starring Mark Harmon, Tuareg – The Desert Warrior.

This is the first book in the Tuareg trilogy, followed by Los Ojos del Tuareg and El Último Tuareg.

 

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One day, two old men and a boy appear in Gacel Shayah’s camp in the Sahara.

He, a noble inmouchar observing the millennial tradition of the desert, shelters travelers.

But he fails to protect them.

People in dusty military uniforms violate the ancient hospitality law.

They kill the boy and take one old man away.

Gasel Shayah remembers the great commandment of the Tuareg people:

Your guest is under your protection.

Therefore, he must seek vengeance.

 

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Alberto’s novel Iguana was cinematized in 1988 by Monte Hellman.

Iguana is a 1988 American adventure drama/thriller film starring Everett McGill in the main role.

The movie is based on the life of a real Irish sailor called Patrick Watkins.

The movie was mainly shot on location in Lanzarote.

 

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The film takes place at the beginning of the 19th century.

Oberlus (Everett McGill), a harpooner on a whaling ship, is regularly subjected to ridicule and abuse by other sailors.

The right half of his face is bizarrely disfigured and covered with hummocky outgrowths, which leads him to being nicknamed Iguana.

One night, after a brutal beating, Oberlus escapes to the uninhabited Hood Island.

He is soon discovered by a team led by Captain Gamboa (Fabio Testi).

Gamboa brutally tortures Oberlus and ties him up for further punishment, but Iguana manages to escape and hides himself in a cave.

The ship leaves the island and Gamboa orders that sailor Sebastian (Michael Madsen) be tied to a post on the coast as punishment for letting Iguana escape.

Oberlus finds Sebastian and proclaims himself “King of Hood Island” and Sebastian his first slave, forcing him to cook his food.

Declaring revenge upon the world, Oberlus enslaves two other sailors thrown ashore after the shipwreck.

He keeps his captives in a cave with a disguised entrance.

After some time, a ship holding Carmen (Maru Valdivieso) and her fiancé Diego (Fernando De Huang), is moored near the island.

Oberlus takes them prisoner.

Oberlus kills Diego and makes Carmen his concubine.

The captain of the ship, assuming Carmen and Diego to have died in the storm, does not look for them, but sails away.

One day, Oberlus notices the arrival of his former whaling ship.

At night, he climbs on board, kills two sailors on the deck, takes Gamboa prisoner, and sets the ship alight, having previously locked the hull.

Gamboa fights Oberlus, but is killed by him.

Resigned to her fate, Carmen tells Oberlus that she is pregnant with his child.

Months later, the captain of the ship Carmen and Diego arrived on, returns with a group of armed sailors.

They begin their search and Oberlus has to flee to the other end of the island with pregnant Carmen and his surviving prisoners.

Oberlus plans to sail away with Carmen on the boat.

Carmen gives birth, but Oberlus takes the child, claiming that he will allow him to suffer.

With the child in his arms, he enters the sea, intending to drown himself and the child.

 

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Alberto’s novel Garoé (the name of a sacred tree in the Canary Islands) won the 2010 Historical Novel Prize Alfonso X El Sabio, valued at €100,000.

He has also published an autobiography entitled Anaconda.

He is also a screenwriter and film director and has made such films as Oro rojo (Red Gold).

 

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Alberto currently resides between an attic apartment in the Madrid neighbourhood of Argüelles and a home on Lanzarote.

I am not sure if that home is in the village of Haría in the north of the island of Lanzarote, but I suspect it might be, for Alberto once described Haría as the most beautiful village in the world.

Although this description is a tad exaggerated, Haría really does have a pretty bucolic setting, in a palm-filled valley punctuated by splashes of brilliant colour from bougainvillea and poinsetta plants.

 

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But we were not searching for Alberto and had we passed him on the streets we would not have recognized him.

Instead we were looking for a local legend, Lanzarote’s favourite son, César Manrique.

My wife and I spent our mini-vacation tracking down buildings across the Island of Lanzarote that César designed.

We hoped to understand why this place and this man remain inseparably intertwined in the hearts and minds of those who come here and those who knew him.

César Manrique defined Lanzarote.

To understand César Manrique is to understand Lanzarote.

We came to learn.

We began in Haría where his story ends.

 

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Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain,  Monday 3 December 2018

Much like César, our first discovery of Lanzarote was Arrecife.

For us it was the international airport north of Arrecife the day previously.

 

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On this day we drove our rented car, from our hotel in Costa Teguise (See Canada Slim and the Royal Retreat of this blog.), past an aquapark and golf grounds, through the town of Tahiche (more on this town in a future post), through Nazaret and Teguise (See Canada Slim and the Pirates of Teguise of this blog.), through Los Valles and past a windpark to arrive at Haría.

 

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(Los Valles, a quiet agricultural hamlet between Teguise and Haría, is situated in a valley at the foot of the Famara Massif.

Los Valles was founded by refugees from the village of Santa Catalina, which has been destroyed during the eruptions of 1730 – 1736 of Mount Timanfaya.

 

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The pretty, white village church of Ermita de Santa Cantalina stands at the bottom of the valley on the side of the highway.

 

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Immediately after you pass the restored Casa de los Perazas, one of the oldest buildings on Lanzarote.

 

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The road begins to climb steeply passing the Mirador Los Valles.)

 

César Manrique Cabrera was born in Arrecife on 24 April 1919, the son of Francisca and Gumersindo Manrique.

César’s father was a food merchant and his grandfather a notary public.

César preceded his twin sister Ampara by just a few minutes.

He had another sister and a brother.

Gumersindo came from Fuerteventura and emigrated to Lanzarote.

The Manriques were a typical middle class family, without financial burdens.

In 1934, Gumersindo bought property in Caleta de Famara and built a house next to the ocean.

This house left a visible impression on César that lasted his lifetime.

 

 

Ute and I on our first day spent a few hours on Famara Beach and like César did we remember it with joy:

My greatest happiness is to recall a happy childhood, five-month summer vacations in Caleta and Famara Beach with its eight kilometres of clean and fine sand framed by cliffs of more than 400 metres high that reflected on the beach like a mirror.

That image has been engraved in my soul as something of extraordinary beauty that I will never forget in all of my life.

 

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César would fight in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer on dictator Franco’s side.

His experience of the War was atrocious and he refused to talk about it.

In the summer of 1939, once the War was over, César returned to Arrecife, still wearing his military uniform.

After greeting his family, he went up on the flat roof, took off his clothes, angrily stepped over them, sprayed them with petroleum and burned them.

 

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César attended the University of La Laguna to study technical architecture, which he would abandon after two years.

In 1945 he moved to Madrid and studied art at the Academia de Bellas Artas de San Fernando where he graduated as a teacher of art.

 

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In 1953, César began painting abstracts, which in Franco’s Spain was tantamount to treason, and one year later he exhibited his works alongside those of his friends Manuel Manpaso and Luis Féito.

By the late fifties César had made a name for himself in Madrid.

There followed exhibitions in major cities of Europe, Japan and America, which gave him international renown.

 

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In the fall of 1964, following the advice of his cousin Manuel Manrique, a New York psychoanalyst and writer, César lived in New York City until 1966.

He was the guest of Waldo Diaz-Balart, a Cuban painter, who lived in the Lower East Side, at a time when this was a neighbourhood of artists, journalists and bohemians.

Through César’s cousin Manuel’s friendship with the Director of the Institute of International Education, which was sponsored by Nelson Rockefeller, a generous grant allowed César to rent his own studio and produce a number of paintings which he exhibited with success in the prestigious New York gallery of Catherine Viviano.

 

Clockwise, from top: Midtown Manhattan, Times Square, the Unisphere, the Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan with One World Trade Center, Central Park, the headquarters of the United Nations, and the Statue of Liberty

 

While in New York, he wrote his friend Pepe Dámaso:

More than ever I feel true nostalgia for the real meaning of things.

For the pureness of the people.

For the bareness of my landscape and for my friends.

My last conclusion is that Man in New York is like a rat.

Man was not created for this artificiality.

There is an imperative need to go back to the soil.

Feel it.

Smell it.

That’s what I feel.”

 

 

In his unpublished diary, César wrote of his homesickness for Lanzarote.

At the time he was still undecided as to where to set up his permanent studio.

In 1968, César travelled straight from New York City to Lanzarote, which he found exactly as he had left it in 1945.

He felt Lanzarote needed him.

He made himself the Island’s champion.

 

 

When I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the most beautiful places on the planet, due to the endless possibilities that Lanzarote had to offer.

 

 

The Canarian Island was then just beginning to develop a tourism industry, but César promoted a model of sustainability in an attempt to protect Lanzarote’s natural and cultural heritage.

This Manrique model was a determining factor in Lanzarote being declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993.

 

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In parallel with his commitment to the Island, César opened his creative work up to other forms of artistic expression.

He developed a new aesthetic ideology, dominated by art-nature / nature-art.

He began a dialogue of respect for the natural surroundings in which  values of local traditions blended harmoniously with modern designs.

Well versed in many forms of creative expression, a very real desire for integration with the surrounding natural landscape underlies César’s body of artistic work as a whole.

 

 

One of the fundamental preoccupations which has guided my artistic work has been to try to achieve harmonious integration of the forms and ideas of painting, sculpture and spaces into nature.

I believe that this way, of integrating the greatest possible number of artistic elements – colour, texture, dimension, ambience, proportion – leads to a greater aesthetic enjoyment and quality of life.

It is necessary to create and act in freedom, to break with formulae and extend the concept of art to everyday human life, to create non-hostile spaces modelled on the integration of art into nature and nature into art.

 

 

That César’s ideas were carried out on Lanzarote is all thanks to the man’s tireless energy, persistence, immense abilities and international fame.

Without César Manrique, Lanzarote would scarcely be what it is today.

It is his influence and his work that have shaped the Island.

César shaped planning policy on the whole island and his influence can be seen everywhere.

He began with a campaign to preserve traditional building methods and a ban on roadside hoardings.

He convinced the authorities to impose a universal ban on advertising and ensure that telephone and high voltage cables were laid underground.

A multifaceted artist, César turned his flair and vision to a broad range of projects, with the whole of Lanzarote becoming his canvas.

César was a painter, sculptor, architect, ecologist, monument preserver, construction advisor, urban development planner, landscape and garden designer.

 

 

César’s work is full of vitality, colour and light.

There is nothing gloomy in either his paintings or sculptures or in the buildings he designed.

 

 

Together with his friend from his youth, José Ramirez Cerdá, who was president of the Cabildo Insular (island government), César skillfully put his architectural projects into operation.

Luis Morales, an employee of the Cabildo, was a sympathetic partner in all this.

As a practical builder, Morales had the skills to execute Manrique’s plans.

 

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Above: Flag of Lanzarote

 

César encouraged the traditional cubic form of architecture.

A house is capable of growth.

The Lanzarotenos start with one or two rooms.

As a family grows, they add cubes of one or two storeys, arranged around a central courtyard and the water tank.

 

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César’s idea was harmony with nature and the continuation of natural processes.

He wanted to preserve Lanzarote tradition and achieve a landscape-related architecture in proportion to the natural surroundings.

He believed in a humane architecture where nature should be spared and not choked with buildings.

Tourism threatened to sweep away everything before it, but César’s ceaseless opposition to such unchecked urban sprawl touched a nerve with Lanzarote locals and led to the creation of an environmental group known as El Guincho, which has had some success in revealing – and at times reversing – abuses by developers.

 

 

As we drove through villages across the Island, we could see how traditional stylistic features still remain.

The standard whitewashed houses are adorned with green-painted doors, window shutters and strange onion-shaped chimney pots.

The entire Island is a testimony to César’s influence and ever-enduring spirit.

 

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The awareness of the miracle of life and its brevity have made me see clearly that we are impoverished by the tragic sentiment of our existence.

The only important reality is the great mystery of life and of man with his inexhaustible imagination and his infinite ways of acting.

We must observe and learn from the energies of life.

 

 

Those who knew César only superficially ignored the streak of puritanism that ruled his conduct.

He was a frugal man.

He didn’t drink or smoke or allow others to smoke next to him.

He regularly went to bed very early and got up at dawn and began work in his studio very early.

 

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In all César carried out seven major projects on the Island and numerous others elsewhere in the archipelago and beyond.

At the time of his death, he had several more in the works.

It was the buildings that my wife and I were determined to visit on our five-day sojourn on Lanzarote.

We wanted to see how César’s life-affirming architecture relates to the Lanzarote landscape.

We were confused by descriptions that suggested that César’s buildings were generous but at the same time deeply modest.

Guidebooks wrote that César, with great aesthetic powers and unerring taste, had created places for the muses, of contemplation, of meditation, which radiate joy and tranquillity, places endowed with humanity.

It was written that César had striven to discover the beautiful and make it visible to everyone, but not simply beauty for beauty’s sake, but a unity of truth and intrinsic originality.

We wanted to see this for ourselves.

 

180° panorama photo taken from Mirador del Río showing La Graciosa

 

To speak of harmony with nature we need to speak of the landscape of Lanzarote.

On arriving in Lanzarote one feels transported in time, whisked back to the beginnings of the world, a fresh, clean world, in which the Traveller himself is the hero of discovery.

Here are seas of lava, enchanted grottos, columns of steam seeping from the bowels of the planet, magnificent multicoloured stone walls, threatening volcanoes, waves that furiously smash upon tortured cliffs that loom like giants frozen for all time in their march to the sea and eternally punished for such audacity, lurking lagoons that appear suddenly among the rocks, pockets scooped from deadly lava where livelihood-sustaining vines thrive to produce unsurpassable wine, golden beaches of skin-caressing sands, transparent blue waters….

Another world, another time, a unique place.

Here are peaceful, flower-bedecked whitewashed villages and a heritage of hardy people who overcame, will always overcome, the desolation that civilization commits and the fury of nature defied.

From lava and ash, drops of dew defiantly defended have been clawed from nature’s clutches and cultivated.

Yet these sturdy island warriors are kind, hospitable people who shelter guests in comfort and compassion.

Civilization’s constants are also found on Lanzarote, but they blend rather than blind the visitor to the natural delights of the Island.

 

 

By far the most beautiful place in the archipelago, Haíra lies within a sea of palm trees and has the charm of a small sheltered oasis.

Haría is a place to relax, a Utopia where the locals set the tone.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, locals traditionally planted a palm tree to celebrate a birth (two for a boy, one for a girl), thus resulting in today’s tourist viewing a palm-filled valley upon a barren Island.

 

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Haría has many positive qualities: magnificent flora, an abundance of trees.

The mind can manage this place so peaceful, so tranquil, as the body sits comfortably under wide spreading canopies of leaves.

No one, except children in haste, runs in Haría.

One strolls here.

The soul quietly smiles at the serenity.

 

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The central pedestrian avenue, Plaza León y Castillo, is shaded by lush leafy laurel and eucalyptus trees and cast-iron lanterns above benches where children play and seniors meet watching tourists gorge themselves at the Plaza’s open-air restaurant.

This is also the site of a superb Satuday morning craft and produce market.

 

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From the town hall up the street about 100 metres, the Traveller comes to the municipal arts and crafts centre, the Taller de Artesania Municipal.

Handicrafts are available throughout the week at the Taller de Artesania Reinaldo Dorta Déniz (to give its full name) on Calle Barranco de Tenesia, a town hall-backed craft workshop where local artists produce macramé, silverware, ceramics, dollmaking, embroidery and some charming pieces made of palm leaves and reeds, where one can watch the crafters at work before buying.

It is open Tuesday to Sunday 1000 – 1330 and 1600 – 1900, Monday only 1000 to 1330.

 

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The Mercado Municipal de Abastos, adjacent to the arts and crafts centre, is a small market here with a health-conscious attitude, with fruit, vegetable, meat and fish counters.

There is also a food stall here where the locals are tempted with tapas.

It is open Monday to Saturday 0900 – 1400.

 

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Haría does not boast any monuments of particular historical or architectural importance, for the history of this municipality is of little relevance.

Theirs is a past marked by poverty, foreign invasions and mass emigrations.

A 1587 account of the neighbourhood mentions a fountain and 100 people, a time when it was the only village on the Island besides the capital of Teguise.

In 1590, there were no more than 1,000 people on the Island, of which 250 were military, as well as 40 horses.

Population scarcity was due to three raids carried out for 16 years by Moorish and Turkish pirates.

One of the most devasting pirate attacks was that of the troops of Morato Arráez, who, in August 1586, burned down all the palm trees.

Fortunately they grew back again.

 

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What is immediately outstanding is the good taste of the town’s buildings and the way they blend into the landscape.

Some stately Andalusian-style houses date back to the 19th century when Haría at times played an important role in island politics.

 

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At the far end of the Plaza Leon y Castillo stands the modern parish church of Our Lady of the Incarnation.

The church was built in 1619 although it has suffered numerous setbacks over time.

The most significant was the storm of 1956, which left only the tower standing.

Inside the church five fine lovingly-carved arches support the ceiling.

 

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In front of the church is the La Tegala Cultural Centre, a more than 100-year-old house which has already served as a barracks, a shop and a workshop.

 

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A visit to the Diocese of the Canaries’ Museum of Popular Sacred Art in Plaza León y Castillo is recommended for the abundance of wonderful works springing from the imagination of the people of Lanzarote.

 

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At the Plaza de la Constitución, the small square next to the Plaza Leon y Castillo, stands the classical town hall also containing the local police station.

 

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Around the corner is the beautiful city library with its rich selection of Canarian historical and cultural materials.

 

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On the square there is a small rest area with benches, above the large cistern Aljibe which has been converted into a meeting and exhibition hall.

 

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Since the advent of tourism in the early 1980s Haría has flourished, but the tourists come not  only for the celebrated beauty of the town or for the Sacred Art Museum or for the handicraft workshops, but they come to see the Casa Museo César Manrique on Calle Elvira Sanchez.

 

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But before we remember the dead, let us honour the living while we can.

 

Behind the Museum one can, if lucky, witness an artist at work in a garage.

That craftsman is Don Eulogio Concepción Perdomo, signposted as “Cesteria“.

This man, the only and last basket weaver on the Island, is now over 80.

In patient manual labour Perdomo makes, from the strong fronds of Canarian date palms, stable baskets of various sizes and the famous Lanzarote conical-shaped hats.

We witness him making a small fruit basket, which takes more than an hour to produce, costs about €20.

I call his name and shake his hand.

Does he know of his fame?

Does he understand just how important he is?

 

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A palm-fringed property was the final home of Lanzarote’s favourite son and has been opened as a shrine to his memory.

This is a house frozen in time, complete with César’s clothes in the closet and personal art collection adorning the walls.

It is an intimate and personal view of César in his domestic surroundings.

It is a strikingly beautiful home situated in a lush palm grove in a charming village that is itself a showcase of Lanzarote’s traditional lifestyle.

This relatively new attraction of Haría, César’s last home, was opened in the summer of 2013.

 

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Surrounded by date palms and tucked away and back from the street, César’s home is a pleasure to stroll through.

The entrance fee is steep but the Museum is well laid out.

Rarely does one experience such harmonious living space with such a feel-good factor.

Within this spacious property, within the context of the comfortable and tasteful decor are many personal items, including painting items and incomplete works.

 

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The living room with a large fireplace and heavy wooden ceiling, the light-flooded dining room, the bedroom with high panelled ceiling, and, as always with César, an extravagant bathroom that opens with glass fronts to the outside, César designed his home with much love, a house that was far from completion when he died.

The Casa Museo César Manrique is open every day from 1030 to 1800 (last entry 1730).

 

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It is in Haría where César was lain to rest, when at the age of 73, still in good health and full of vitality and the joy of living, he was killed in an automobile accident on 25 September 1992, next to the present site of his Fundacion.

The irony of fate that he would meet his death in a car accident is rich as he loathed the massive amount of vehicles.

 

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Above: Painted BMW from 1990 Art Basel exhibition, Casa Museo César Manrique, Haría, Lanzarote

 

César’s final resting place in Haría’s cemetery is located at the exit to Arrieta atop a low hill.

His simple grave is located on the left in front of the small chapel.

César’s differs fundamentally from the other graves which are made of stone slabs and crosses.

His is a flat oval bordered by lava stones under a palm tree and adorned with succulents and cacti.

The carving “C. Manrique 1919 – 92” testifies that here lies Lanzarote’s loyal son.

From the forecourt of the cemetery there is a beautiful view of the valley below.

 

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In retracing his life in reverse chronology, I am reminded of a text he wrote to describe himself and his view of life:

I have never followed the signs indicating the road to Utopia.

Utopia, I do presently believe, is an inner path.

My enthusiasm, in any case, is the sole force that can guide me approximately.

 

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Starting from César’s endpoint is appropriate.

For it is in Haría we view not the celebrity César, not the artist César, but the man César, a man as common as we all are, mortal and preoccupied with all the minutae that comprise a life lived daily.

 

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To fully appreciate César’s impact on the Island one must journey out of Haría, away from a traditional Lanzarote, to a Lanzarote of the future built upon five volcanic bubbles of a lava flow 6km north of Arrecife, César’s birthplace.

The Taro de Tahíche is a dormant remnant of the 1730 eruption of the volcano Timanfaya on the northwest corner of the Island, and it is upon this that the Fundación César Manrique sits.

 

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Image result for fundacion cesar manrique

 

From the Fundación and the overview of all that César Manrique was and did, the Traveller is encouraged to explore Lanzarote through César’s eyes and creations:

  • the Jameos del Agua

  • the Monumento al Campesino

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  • the Restaurante El Diablo

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  • the Mirador del Río

  • the Castillo San José

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  • the Jardín de Cactus

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It is at the Fundación and at the aforementioned half-dozen Manrique creations that the Traveller senses how César’s life-affirming architecture relates to the Lanzarote landscape:

Generous and yet deeply modest.

With great aesthic imagination and impeccable taste César created monuments for muses, cathedrals of contemplation, monoliths of meditation, jubilees of joy, temples of tranquillity, havens of humanity.

He sought what was beautiful and brought to this beauty his strength of purpose and crystalline originality.

In Lanzarote posts to come his creations and the Island that inspired them will be patiently revealed.

I hope that you will enjoy learning of them as I shall enjoy the experience of sharing them with you.

 

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Above: Undiscovered Planets, César Manrique

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Fernando Gómez Aguilera, César Manrique in His Own Words / Wolfgang Borsich, Lanzarote and César Manrique: Seven Buildings / Lucy Corne and Josephine Quintero, Lonely Planet Canary Islands / Jorge Echenique and Andrés Murillo, Lanzarote / Eberhard Fohrer, Müller Lanzarote / Raimundo Rodriguez, Lanzarote

 

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Canada Slim and the Pirates of Teguise

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Sunday 5 May 2019

Imagine the perfect holiday.

Perhaps it is an active one spent hiking and windsurfing.

Perhaps you are a culture vulture mesmerized by museums and attracted to artefacts of days gone by.

Or perhaps you long for a lengthy siesta where your hardest decision is how much sunscreen to wear today.

 

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The Canary Islands have what you want, however you want it, but being all things to all people means this is a place of contradictions.

 

The Islands lie off the coast of Africa yet they are European.

 

The Canary Islands form a Spanish archipelago and the southernmost autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Morocco at the closest point.

The Canary Islands, which are also known informally as the Canaries, are among the outermost regions (OMR) of the European Union proper.

It is also one of the eight regions with special consideration of historical nationality recognized as such by the Spanish Government.

The Canary Islands belong to the African Plate, like the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the African mainland.

 

Location of the Canary Islands within Spain

 

The seven main islands are (from largest to smallest in area) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro.

The archipelago includes much smaller islands and islets: La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este.

It also includes a series of adjacent roques (those of Salmor, Fasnia, Bonanza, Garachico and Anaga).

 

In ancient times, the island chain was often referred to as “the Fortunate Isles“.

But delving into Canarian history the casual observer has to ponder the question:

Fortunate for whom?

 

Historically, the Canary Islands have been considered a bridge between four continents: Africa, North America, South America and Europe.

And it has been their strategic location that has been both a blessing and a curse to those who have chosen to make the Islands their home.

 

Flag of Canary Islands

Above: Flag of the Canary Islands

 

The archipelago’s beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide (a World Heritage Site) in Tenerife (the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor), make it a major tourist destination with over 12 million visitors per year, especially Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

 

 

Imagine living on an island where more people around you are tourists than residents.

 

Tourists are, by their very nature, selfish in that the pleasure principle dominates their every thought.

Most care nothing about those who reside there except in how the locals cater to their needs.

 

There is nothing new under the sun.

 

 

The islands have a subtropical climate, with long hot summers and moderately warm winters.

The precipitation levels and the level of maritime moderation vary depending on location and elevation.

Green areas as well as desert exist on the archipelago.

Rain seems rare and snow something never seen.

 

Due to their location above the temperature inversion layer, the high mountains of these islands are ideal for astronomical observation.

For this reason, two professional observatories, Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, have been built on the islands.

 

The day sky is cloudless.

The night sky stretches to infinity and beyond.

The horizon beckons with promise.

 

 

So it may be reasonable to assume that piracy has existed for as long as the oceans were plied for commerce.

 

Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties.

Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates.

Privateering uses similar methods to piracy, but the captain acts under orders of the state authorizing the capture of merchant ships belonging to an enemy nation, making it a legitimate form of war-like activity by non-state actors.

 

 

Due to the strategic situation of this Spanish archipelago as a crossroads of maritime routes and commercial bridge between Europe, Africa and America, this was one of the places on the planet with the greatest pirate presence.

In the Canary Islands, the following stand out:

  • The attacks and continuous looting of Berber, English, French and Dutch corsairs
  • The presence of pirates from this archipelago who made their incursions into the Caribbean.
  • Pirates and corsairs, such as François Le Clerc, Jacques de Sores, Francis Drake, Pieter van der Does, Murat Reis and Horacio Nelson, attacked the islands.
  • Among those born in the archipelago who stands out above all is Amaro Pargo, whom the monarch Felipe V of Spain frequently benefited from his commercial incursions.

 

During the time of the Spanish Empire, the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons – galleons seeking to be laiden with treasure – on their way to the Americas, which came south to catch the prevailing northeasterly trade winds.

 

 

Sailing off the coast of Africa the closest of the Canaries to be reached is the Island of Lanzerote and thus it became the first Canary Island to be settled.

 

Lanzerote is the northernmost and easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

It is located approximately only 125 kilometres (78 miles) off the north coast of Africa and 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) from the Iberian Peninsula.

Covering 845.94 square kilometres (326.62 square miles), Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the islands in the archipelago.

With 149,183 inhabitants, it is the third most populous Canary Island, after Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

Located in the centre-west of the island is Timanfaya National Park, one of its main attractions.

The island was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1993.

The island’s capital is Arrecife.

 

Spain Canary Islands location map Lanzarote.svg

 

The Phoenicians may have visited or settled there, though no material evidence survives.

The first known record came from Roman author Pliny the Elder in the encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia on an expedition to the Canary Islands.

The names of the islands (then called Insulae Fortunatae or the “Fortunate Isles“) were recorded as Junonia (Fuerteventura), Canaria (Gran Canaria), Ninguaria (Tenerife), Junonia Major (La Palma), Pluvialia (El Hierro), and Capraria (La Gomera).

Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the two easternmost Canary Islands, were only mentioned as the archipelago of the “purple islands“.

The Roman poet Lucan and the Greek astronomer and geographer Ptolemy gave their precise locations.

 

 

Several archaeological expeditions have uncovered the prehistoric settlement at the archaeologic site of El Bebedero in the village of Teguise.

In one of those expeditions, by a team from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and a team from the University of Zaragoza, yielded about 100 Roman potsherds, nine pieces of metal, and one piece of glass.

The artefacts were found in strata dated between the 1st and 4th centuries.

They show that Romans did trade with the Canarians, though there is no evidence of settlements.

Lanzarote was previously settled by the Majos tribe of the Guanches, though the Romans did not mention them.

 

 

Guanches were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands.

In 2017, the first genome-wide data from the Guanches confirmed a North African origin and that they were genetically most similar to modern North African Berber peoples of the nearby North African mainland.

It is believed that they migrated to the archipelago around 1000 BC or perhaps earlier.

The Guanches were the only native people known to have lived in the  region before the arrival of Europeans, as there is no evidence that the other archipelagos (Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira) were inhabited before Europeans arrived.

After the Spanish conquest of the Canaries they were ethnically and culturally absorbed by Spanish settlers, although elements of their culture survive to this day, intermixed within Canarian customs and traditions such as Silbo (the whistled language of La Gomera Island).

 

 

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Canary Islands were ignored until 999, when the Arabs arrived at the island which they dubbed al-Djezir al-Khalida (among other names).

An account of the Guanche population may have been made around AD 1150 by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in the Nuzhatul Mushtaq, a book he wrote for King Roger II of Sicily, in which al-Idrisi reports a journey in the Atlantic Ocean made by the Mugharrarin (“the adventurers“), a family of Andalusian seafarers from Lisbon.

The only surviving version of this book, kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and first translated by Pierre Amédée Jaubert, reports that, after having reached an area of “sticky and stinking waters“, the Mugharrarin moved back and first reached an uninhabited island (Madeira or Hierro), where they found “a huge quantity of sheep, which its meat was bitter and inedible” and, then, “continued southward” and reached another island where they were soon surrounded by barks and brought to “a village whose inhabitants were often fair haired with long and flaxen hair and the women of a rare beauty“.

Among the villagers, one did speak Arabic and asked them where they came from.

Then the king of the village ordered them to bring them back to the continent where they were surprised to be welcomed by Berbers.

Apart from the marvelous and fanciful content of this history, this account would suggest that Guanches had sporadic contacts with populations from the mainland.

Al-Idrisi also described the Guanche men as tall and of a reddish-brown complexion.

During the 14th century, the Guanches are presumed to have had other contacts with Balearic seafarers from Spain, suggested by the presence of Balearic artifacts found on several of the Canary Islands.

 

Map of the Balearic Islands

Above: (in red) The Balearic Islands

 

In 1336, a ship arrived from Lisbon under the guidance of Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello, who used the alias “Lanzarote da Framqua“.

A fort was later built in the area of Montaña de Guanapay near today’s Teguise.

 

 

Castilian slaving expeditions in 1385 and 1393 seized hundreds of Guanches and sold them in Spain, initiating the slave trade in the islands.

 

Where there is profit to be found on the open seas there will be those who will seek to claim it.

Slavery and piracy differ only in that the plunder of the former is the lives of human beings.

The violence used by both is indistinguishable from the other.

 

French explorer Jean de Béthencourt arrived in 1402, heading a private expedition under Castilian auspices.

Bethencourt first visited the south of Lanzarote at Playa de Papagayo, and the French overran the island within a matter of months.

 

Above: Jean de Béthencourt (1362 – 1425)

 

The island lacked mountains and gorges to serve as hideouts for the remaining Guanche population and so many Guanches were taken away as slaves.

Only 300 Guanche men were said to have remained.

 

The Castilian conquest of the Canary Islands began in 1402, with the expedition of Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle (1340 – 1415) to the island of Lanzarote.

Gadifer would invade Lanzarote and Fuerteventura with ease since many of the aboriginals, faced with issues of starvation and poor agriculture, would surrender to Spanish rule.

 

 

At the southern end of the Yaiza municipality, the first European settlement in the Canary Islands appeared in 1402 in the area known as El Rubicón, where the conquest of the Archipelago began.

In this place, the Cathedral of Saint Martial of Limoges was built.

The cathedral was destroyed by English pirates in the 16th century.

The diocese was moved in 1483 to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Roman Catholic Diocese of Canarias).

 

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In 1404, the Castilians (with the support of the King of Castile) came and fought the local Guanches who were further decimated.

The islands of Fuerteventura and El Hierro were later similarly conquered.

 

In 1477, a decision by the royal council of Castile confirmed a grant of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, with the smaller islands of Ferro and Gomera to the Castilian nobles Herrera, who held their fief until the end of the 18th century.

In 1585, the Ottoman admiral Murat Reis temporarily seized Lanzarote.

In the 17th century, pirates raided the island and took 1,000 inhabitants into slavery in Cueva de los Verdes.

 

From 1730 to 1736, the island was hit by a series of volcanic eruptions, producing 32 new volcanoes in a stretch of 18 kilometres (11 miles).

The priest of Yaiza, Don Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo, documented the eruption in detail until 1731.

Lava covered a quarter of the island’s surface, including the most fertile soil and 11 villages.

100 smaller volcanoes were located in the area called Montañas del Fuego, the “Mountains of Fire“.

 

 

In 1768, drought affected the deforested island and winter rains did not fall.

Much of the population was forced to emigrate to Cuba and the Americas, including a group which formed a significant addition to the Spanish settlers in Texas at San Antonio de Bexar in 1731.

 

 

Another volcanic eruption occurred within the range of Tiagua in 1824, which was less violent than the major eruption between 1730 and 1736.

Thus the island has become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve protected site.

 

According to a report in the Financial Times, this status was endangered by a local corruption scandal.

Since May 2009, police have arrested the former president of Lanzarote, the former mayor of Arrecife and more than 20 politicians and businessmen in connection with illegal building permits along Lanzarote’s coastline.

UNESCO has threatened to revoke Lanzarote’s Biosphere Reserve status, “if the developments are not respecting local needs and are impacting on the environment“.

The President of the Cabildo of Lanzarote denied “any threat to Lanzarote’s UNESCO status“.

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Piracy upon the open sea beside the shores of Lanzarote may be a thing of the past but greed remains eternal.

 

 

Teguise, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Sunday 2 December 2018

As described in a previous post of this blog, my wife and I arrived on the island and drove from the airport near the island capital of Arrecife to the resort town of Costa Teguise where we overnighted for the entirety of our stay on Lanzarote.

(Please see Canada Slim and the Royal Retreat of this blog.)

 

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Above: Lanzarote Airport

 

Our previous research gleaned that Sunday was market day in Teguise so soon after we checked into our hotel we quickly headed here.

 

Teguise, also known as La Villa de Teguise, is a village in the Municipality of Teguise in the north central part of the Island, 12 km north of Arrecife.

Here North Africa meets Spanish pueblo.

Like no other place on Lanzarote, it has preserved its historic appearance to this day.

It is an intriguing mini-oasis of low buildings set around a central plaza and surrounded by the bare plains of central Lanzarote.

The small old town forms a compact whole that impresses in its uniformity.

The Andalusian style of southern Spain sets the tone.

 

Plaza Mayor

 

The outwardly simple, white houses have high, carved wooden portals and large shutters in front of the windows.

The former capital was built in the 15th century for fear of pirate raids in the middle of the island, right at the foot of the striking Montana de Guanapay.

Built in the Spanish colonial style, it presents a magnificent ensemble of stylish churches and monasteries, harmonious squares, magnificent old houses and quiet streets.

Old town Teguise has been a listed heritage site for over twenty years and is the jewel of Lanzarote.

It is considered one of the best preserved settlement centers of the Canaries.

As of 1 January 2018 the village’s population was 1,776.

 

The town was founded in 1418 and served as the capital of the Kingdom of the Canary Islands from 1425 to 1448 and as capital of Lanzarote until the capital was moved to Arrecife in 1852.

Teguise is said to have been founded by Maciot – the successor of the aforementioned Jean de Béthencourt – who is rumoured to have lived here with Princess Teguise, the daughter of the Guanche King Guadarfia.

 

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Various convents were founded and the town prospered.

But with prosperity came other problems, including pirates who plundered the town several times.

 

Although the strategic location of the city was favorable – protected to the north by the Famara reef, in addition to the Castillo de Santa Bárbara enthroned above the city, a broad overview in all directions, the following centuries were marked by numerous bloody pirate attacks, undoubtedly reactions to the brutal raids of Teguise’s feudal lords, who had previously deported thousands of Berbers to slavery on the African coasts.

Teguise went through hard times and was said to be no more than a miserable village with thatched huts.

 

In 1586, Algerian pirates stormed the city under their infamous leader Morato Arráez and put down everything that stood in their way.

The Callejon de Sangre (Blood Alley) behind the parish church recalls this terrible tragedy.

 

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In 1618, plundering Berber hordes burnt down the city completely, enslaving much of the island’s population.

As a result, Teguise’s historic buildings were increasingly economically unattractive for most of the late 17th and 18th centuries.

 

And this is why, in 1852, the up-and-coming port city of Arrecife was named the new capital of the island, while Teguise evolved into the open-air museum that it still represents today.

 

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Firmly on the tourist trail, there are several shops here selling flowing garments and handmade jewellery, plus restaurants, bars and a handful of monuments testifying to the fact that the town once was the capital.

This is a town of spacious squares and well-kept cobblestone streets lined with beautifully restored houses that testify to Teguise’s former glory.

For a stroll, however, you should choose a really sunny day, because Teguise is located in a relatively uncomfortable island corner, namely on a cold and draughty plateau.

During the week, Teguise is a quiet place, ideal for a leisurely stroll through the streets.

 

Sunday is all about the huge folksy market that takes place here every week.

It is a day of flourishing handicrafts in the market with throngs of tourists shopping and gorging themselves into a satiated stupor and locals lounging beneath a gentle breeze and a warm sun.

Throughout the entire old town, stands are close to one other, in between streams of visitors from the whole island crowded here for this one moment in time, the bars and restaurants bursting in an exuberant mood.

A day for dancing, if being leisurely was not so tempting.

 

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What strikes the visitor to Teguise Market the most is the foreign feel of the artists, the arts and crafts, the ecological and esoteric scene.

Various shops around the two central squares offer natural products, jewelery, antiques and so on – certainly not only because Teguise is so “beautiful“, but above all for tangible commercial reasons, because during the big Sunday market, the city is always very well attended.

 

But as well Canarian culture has a focus in Teguise.

Thus, the former capital of the island is considered the place of origin of the timples, the traditional guitar-like string instruments of Canarios, of which an exhibition in the Palacio Spinola proudly praises in the central square of Teguise.

 

 

The timple is a traditional 5-string plucked string instrument of the Canary Islands.

On La Palma Island and in the north of the island of Tenerife, many timple players omit the fifth (D) string, in order to play the timple as a four-string ukulele, though this is considered less traditional by players and advocates of the five-string version.

The players of the four-string style, in return, say that they are simply playing the timple in the old-fashioned way from before the time when a fifth string was introduced in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

Timple players (timplistas) of note are Benito Cabrera from Lanzarote, José Antonio Ramos, Totoyo Millares, and Germán López from Gran Canaria, and Pedro Izquierdo from Tenerife.

 

Antonio Lemes Hernández, at Calle Flores 8, is one of the last to build the famous Canarian guitars.

He also supplies many music groups in other Canary Islands.

Various sizes are produced, from the mini-model to the contratimple.

The Cabildo de Lanzarote, through its Departments of Culture and Industry, has recognized Antonio Lemes Hernández for his involvement of more than half a century in the production of timples.

Lemes, a craftsman from Teguise, has been building timples since he was very small.

He himself recognizes that:

“I have not done anything else, all my life making timples.
I made them out of cardboard as a child.

We brushed them and made them from that material, but of course, I made them and broke them, I did not have a teacher.” 

So he perfected his technique.

And to transform the wood….
I used to make them from polisandro, moral, mahogany, and the lid, which is always made of pine.

The important thing is that it is good wood so that they can tune well.

 

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Sixty years after his first contact with the timple, Antonio’s hands continue to mold, giving life to the sound camel .

To play what is the treasure of Lanzerote music.

 

Antonio Lemes Hernández, popularly known as Lolo, was born in the stately Villa de Teguise.

As a child he learned the technique of woodworking in the School of Crafts of Teguise, although it was his carpenter companion, Antonio de León Bonilla, who had some knowledge of the timple, who taught him to shape the sound camel.

Little by little, Antonio became fond of this instrument, so today his works are highly valued and requested, some to make sound alone or at parties and others are conservative and wish to possess a timble like a real jewel in private storage.

 

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Antonio Lemes has always been linked to the world of music.

In his youth he was part of the famous orchestra of Teguise known as Lira and Lido and he was also a part of cultural institutions such as Rancho de Pascuas de Teguise.

 

At present, Antonio Lemes enjoys his retirement, although as he can not stand idly by, so every day he goes to his workshop located on Flores Street, where he continues to practice the work that made him fall in love as a child, the construction of the timple.

 

In 2016, the Guagime Folkloric Association of Tahíche showed him public recognition by giving him their highest award, the ‘Silver Insignia‘, for his dedication to the development of the timple.

 

 

The eclectic church, the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe skulks in the town square.

Constructed in the mid-15th century, it has been rebuilt many times that it feels like the divine is in a perpetual state of confusion

Inside neo-Gothic furnishings surround a statue of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, but it was afternoon when we arrived in Teguise, so we were forced to imagine the scene rather than witness it for ourselves.

 

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On the opposite side of the square stands the Palacio Spinola.

The light of God facing the darkness of man.

 

The Palacio, completed after half a century in 1780, is beautiful with a small patio and a well.

It now doubles as both a museum and the official residence of the Canary Islands government.

It too was closed by the time we decided we wanted to visit it.

 

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This impressive edifice is host to the Casa del Timple – a museum dedicated to the small guitar like instrument which plays a big role in local folklore and tradtional music.

 

The building was renovated during the 1970´s by the ubiquitous César Manrique- and provides the perfect opportunity to step back in time and sample the lifestyle of an affluent nobleman in 18th century Lanzarote, whilst also learning more about the role of the timple in island life.

 

César Manrique

Above: César Manrique (1919 – 1992)

(“For me, Lanzarote was the most beautiful place on Earth, so I made it a point to show Lanzarote to the world.“)

(More on this amazing man in a future post….)

 

Today, echoes of the glorious past still resonate through Teguise´s cobbled streets – which are home to some fantastic old buildings and a wealth of colonial architecture that cannot be found anywhere else on Lanzarote.

Making La Villa, as it is known locally, one of the best-preserved historic centers in the whole of the Canary Islands.

Many of these buildings are now private residences and are therefore hidden away from public gaze behind green wooden shutters.

But the house-museum at the Palacio Spinola is open to the public.

 

The Palacio Spinola is located in the heart of Teguise in the Plaza de San Miguel – also known locally as the Plaza de Leones because of the two statues of lions that stand guard opposite the entrance to the Palace.

Construction on the building started in 1730 – the same year that the south of the island was subjected to a six-year volcanic eruption that forged the national park at Timanfaya.

These eruptions obviously disrupted life on Lanzarote and the building of the Palacio took another fifty years to complete.

The Palacio was originally known as the Inquisitors House – as it was once the HQ of the Holy Inquisition.

From the middle of the 18th Century it became home to the Feo Peraza family, the best known of whom was the policitican Jose Feo Armas.

But by 1895 the Palacio had passed into the hands of the wealthy Spinola family.

The impressive frontage of the building with its six huge windows enclosed by intricately carved wooden shutters is a clear indication of the prosperity of the original owners.

 

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You needed serious money to afford this sort of opulence in the early 18th century.

 

Visitors walk through a formal entrance way, tiled with volcanic stone – where a small admission charge of €3 is made (free for children under 12 years) – and they are then free to explore the passageways and patios of the Palacio with the help of a basic printed guide which outlines the function of each room.

Amongst the most fascinating of these are the kitchens, with a chimney arrangement that is open to the elements in order to carry away cooking smoke, a latticed viewing gallery that overlooks the two main salons, or living rooms, a massive dining room with seating for thirty two guests and a small private family chapel, featuring an intricately carved wooden altar.

Throughout the Palacio, modern paintings by local artists, such as Aguilar, are juxtaposed with antique and reproduction furniture.

The exterior of the building is equally impressive, as long passageways lead visitors out into a delightful courtyard area that houses two stately old Canarian palm trees as well as a variety of flowering plants such as hibiscus and strelitza as well as an array of colourful succulents.

Here, visitors can observe the giant wooden door guarding the entranceway – built to a height that would allow both a horse and rider to enter unhindered.

 

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The Palacio Spinola isn’t huge – comprising eleven rooms in total, so it will probably only occupy an hour or so of your time at best, but it is an extremely well preserved example of 18th century architecture.

And who knows – you might even bump into a modern day grandee.

As the Palacio Spinola is also now the official residence of the President of the Canary Islands when he is visiting Lanzarote.

 

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Above: Fernando Clavijo Batlle, current President of the Canary Islands

 

 

Towering over the town is the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, built in the early 16th century on top of the 452-metre (1,480 foot) high Guanapay Peak and provides a view almost over the entire island.

Visible from afar, the fortress Santa Bárbara perches on a bare crater ridge above Teguise.

A real mini “knight’s castle” with massive masonry, drawbridge and small round towers awaits the visitor.

Inside, a pirate museum has been housed here for several years.

 

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The Museo de la Pirateria (Pirate Museum) has an exhibition that deals with an almost existential theme for Teguise and is also good for children.

With cartoon figures, picture stories, dioramas, historical signs and museum relics, the city’s hard times come to life again.

Excerpts from pirate films with six galleys from 1586 under Morato Arráez who conquers the castle and leaves Teguise with 200 prisoners, including the wife and daughter of the city commander Marquis Agustin Herrera y Rojas, for which Arráez finally receives 20,000 ducats for their ransom.

 

For me, Teguise, and most especially the Pirate Museum of Castle Bárbara, struck me as incongruous and felt somehow wrong.

 

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Teguise had made a fortune from the slave trade until it was punished by Africans from whose populations these slaves had come.

The mercantile nature of the town, exhibited on a Christian day that is supposed to be free of commerce and labour, though less barbaric than former times, still resonates in the overpriced restaurants with substandard food and at the overvalued merchandise stalls where the buyer need be aware of deals done deceptively.

 

The Pirate Museum bothers me intensely, for it seems inherently callous to make profit from all the pain and violence committed by these bandits of the sea, celebrated and packaged glamourously for children’s consumption.

Pirates have always been and shall always be bloodthirsty bastards unable and unwilling to earn a honest day’s labour for the bread on the table.

How many hardworking families lost all that they had, including their lives, at the gory bloody hands of murderous, torturing and raping pirates?

And yet we have given pirates a mythical mystique of free men thirsting for liberty outside the confines of society.

We have made legends out of murderers, rapists and thievies and have given them colourful sobriquets like Blackbeard and Calico Jack.

 

Above: Pirate Cemetery, Île Sainte Marie, Madagascar

 

Beginning with Captain Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates, piracy has become a celebrated cause since 1724.

 

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Since then we have had Long John Silver of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Captain Hook as Peter Pan‘s aristocratic villain of J.M. Barrie’s play, and the sea stories of Rafael Sabatini.

These have led to films like Captain Blood, The Black Swan, and, of course, the immensely popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

 

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Somehow we have brainwashed ourselves with glamourous images of men walking the plank, being marooned, buried treasure, wooden legs and black eye patches, Jolly Roger flags and parrots squawking “pieces of eight, pieces of eight“.

Somehow we have come to warmly embrace and bring to life a seagoing world, befuddled twixt fact and fantasy, favouring felons of murderous, greedy, untrustworthy character, addicted to violence, crime committed casually, consciousness lacking conscience.

Somehow we don’t see unarmed fathers and sons viciously attacked, but instead we see elegant choreographed duels and sword fights, and not the bloody encounters where merciless men hack innocents down with axe and cutlass.

Real pirates bore little resemblance to Errol Flynn or Johnny Depp.

 

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Above: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean

 

And women aboard ship were rarer than chocolate truffles at a homeless shelter despite what Hollywood would have you believe with their lovely heroines playing a key role in the outcomes of their films.

 

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Pirates are a frequent topic in fiction and, in their Caribbean incarnation, are associated with certain stereotypical manners of speaking and dress, most of them wholly fictional:

Nearly all our notions of their behavior come from the golden age of fictional piracy, which reached its zenith in 1881 with the appearance of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

 

 

Hugely influential in shaping the popular conception of pirates, Captain Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pirates, published in London in 1724, is the prime source for the biographies of many well known pirates of the Golden Age.

The book gives a mythical status to pirates, with naval historian David Cordingly writing:

It has been said, and there seems no reason to question this, that Captain Johnson created the modern conception of pirates.

Such as a person costumed like the character of Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp’s lead role in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

 

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Some inventions of pirate culture such as “walking the plank“–in which a bound captive is forced to walk off a board extending over the sea–were popularized by J. M. Barrie’s novel, Peter Pan, where the fictional pirate Captain Hook and his crew helped define the fictional pirate archetype.

 

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English actor Robert Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver in Disney’s 1950 film adaptation of Treasure Island also helped define the modern rendition of a pirate, including the stereotypical West Country “pirate accent“.

 

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Other influences include Sinbad the Sailor and the recent Pirates of the Caribbean films have helped rekindle modern interest in piracy and have performed well at the box office.

 

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The video game Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag also revolves around pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy.

 

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The classic Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera The Pirates of Penzance focuses on The Pirate King and his hapless band of pirates.

 

 

Many sports teams use “pirate” or a related term such as “raider” or “buccaneer” as their nickname, based on these popular stereotypes of pirates.

 

Such teams include the Pittsburgh Pirates, who acquired their nickname in 1891 after “pirating” a player from another team.

 

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The Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both in the National Football League, also use pirate-related nicknames.

 

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo

 

In the early 21st century, seaborne piracy against transport vessels remains a significant issue (with estimated worldwide losses of US$16 billion per year in 2004), particularly in the waters between the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, off the Somali coast, and also in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore.

 

Today, pirates armed with automatic weapons, such as assault rifles, and machine guns, grenades and rocket propelled grenades use small motorboats to attack and board ships, a tactic that takes advantage of the small number of crew members on modern cargo vessels and transport ships.

They also use larger vessels, known as “mother ships“, to supply the smaller motorboats.

 

Above: Somalian pirates

 

The international community is facing many challenges in bringing modern pirates to justice, as these attacks often occur in international waters.

Some nations have used their naval forces to protect private ships from pirate attacks and to pursue pirates, and some private vessels use armed security guards, high-pressure water cannons, or sound cannons to repel boarders, and use radar to avoid potential threats.

 

Piracy in the 21st century has taken place in a number of waters around the world, including the Gulf of Guinea, Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, and Falcon Lake.

 

Due to the crisis in Venezuela, issues of piracy returned to the Caribbean in the 2010s, with the increase of pirates being compared to piracy off the coast of Somalia due to the similar socioeconomic origins.

In 2016, former fishermen became pirates, appearing in the state of Sucre, with attacks happening almost daily and multiple killings occurring.

By 2018 as Venezuelans became more desperate, fears arose that Venezuelan pirates would spread throughout Caribbean waters.

 

Above: Gasoline smugglers, Limon River, Zulia State, Venezuela

 

Piracy on Falcon Lake involves crime at the border between the United States and Mexico on Falcon Lake.

The lake is a 100-kilometre-long (60 mi) reservoir constructed in 1954 and is a known drug smuggling route.

A turf war between rival drug cartels for control of the lake began in March 2010 and has led to a series of armed robberies and shooting incidents.

All of the attacks were credited to the Los Zetas cartel and occurred primarily on the Mexican side of the reservoir but within sight of the Texas coast.

The so-called pirates operate “fleets” of small boats designed to seize fishermen and smuggle drugs.

While the events have been referred to colloquially as piracy, all the waters of Falcon Lake are considered either US or Mexican territorial waters and therefore are not technically piracy under Article 101 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

 

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Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects a number of countries in West Africa as well as the wider international community.

By 2011, it had become an issue of global concern.

Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are often part of heavily armed criminal enterprises, who employ violent methods to steal oil cargo.

In 2012, the International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program reported that the number of vessels attacks by West African pirates had reached a world high, with 966 seafarers attacked during the year.

 

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has evolved over the first decade of the century.

For some time, smaller ships shuttling employees and materials belonging to the oil companies with any involvement in oil exploration had been at risk in Nigeria.

Over time, pirates became more aggressive and better armed.

 

Above: The Gulf of Guinea

 

As of 2014, pirate attacks in West Africa mainly occur in territorial waters, terminals and harbours rather than in the high seas.

This incident pattern has hindered intervention by international naval forces.

 

Pirates in the region operate a well-funded criminal industry, which includes established supply networks.

They are often part of heavily armed and sophisticated criminal enterprises, who increasingly use motherships to launch their attacks.

The local pirates’ overall aim is to steal oil cargo.

As such, they do not attach much importance to holding crew members and non-oil cargo and vessels for ransom.

 

Additionally, pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are especially noted for their violent modus operandi, which frequently involves the kidnapping, torture and shooting of crewmen.

The increasingly violent methods used by these groups is believed to be part of a conscious “business model” adopted by them, in which violence and intimidation plays a major role.

 

By 2010, 45, and, by 2011, 64 incidents were reported to the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (UN – IMO).

 

However, many events go unreported.

 

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Piracy acts interfere with the legitimate trading interests of the affected countries that include Benin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As an example, trade of Benin’s major port, the Port of Cotonou, was reported in 2012 to have dropped by 70%.

The cost of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea due to stolen goods, security, and insurance has been estimated to be about $2 billion.

According to the Control Risks Group, pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea had by mid-November 2013 maintained a steady level of around 100 attempted hijackings in the year, a close second behind Southeast Asia.

 

Piracy in the Indian Ocean has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the civil war in Somalia in the early 21st century.

Since 2005, many international organizations have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy.

Piracy impeded the delivery of shipments and increased shipping expenses, costing an estimated $6.6 to $6.9 billion a year in global trade according to Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP).

 

 

According to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), a veritable industry of profiteers also arose around the piracy.

Insurance companies significantly increased their profits from the pirate attacks as insurance companies hiked rate premiums in response.

 

Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition task force, took on the role of fighting the piracy by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden and Guardafui Channel.

By September 2012, the heyday of piracy in the Indian Ocean was reportedly over.

 

 

According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirate attacks had by October 2012 dropped to a six-year low, with only one ship attacked in the third quarter compared to thirty-six during the same period in 2011

 

By December 2013, the US Office of Naval Intelligence reported that only 9 vessels had been attacked during the year by the pirates, with zero successful hijackings.

 

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Control Risks attributed this 90% decline in pirate activity from the corresponding period in 2012 to the adoption of best management practices by vessel owners and crews, armed private security onboard ships, a significant naval presence and the development of onshore security forces.

 

Pirates in the Strait of Malacca near Indonesia are normally armed with guns, knives, or machetes.

Many reports on attacks could have gone unreported because the companies are scared of the pirates attacking them more often because the company told the authorities.

The pirates in this area also attack ships during the night.

If vessels sound an alarm, the pirates usually leave without confronting the crew.

Pirates in the Singapore Straits attack at night, while ships are underway or anchored.

 

 

According to the Control Risks Group, pirate attacks in the Strait of Malacca had by mid-November 2013 reached a world high, surpassing those in the Gulf of Guinea.

 

 

I am all for generating income to feed a family and I realize that Teguise is highly dependent on tourism to feed theirs.

But a community that claims to be Christian should not be making a market day out of a day of rest and religious reflection.

 

I am all for having a museum that portrays reality historically accurate, but I find it objectionable to package criminal barbarity as a fun day out with the kids.

Piracy in all of its horror is not something that should be forgotten, but neither should it be glamorized nor sanitizied as entertainment for children.

 

Perhaps being a tourist is all about ignoring the realities of life, escaping from life.

But nothing is learned from life or travel if all we choose to see is only pleasureable.

 

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Teguise is a beautiful town worth visiting but it has forgotten what value truly is.

Heritage is not a commodity to be sold at the expense of faith.

Heritage is not a commodity to be sold at the expense of truth.

 

When houses of worship are ignored on a day of faith to increase a merchant’s profits….

When violent crime is packaged to sell tickets to children….

Then a community has sold its soul for filthy lucre.

 

I liked the streets of the town and the warm sunshine after the cold and damp of Switzerland, but I longed for real people uninterested in garnering money or attention from visitors.

Real folks content with living life on their own terms rather than that dictated by others.

 

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The aforementioned timple maker Antonio Lemes Hernandez is one.

Don Pillimpo is another.

 

On the access road from Mozaga, diagonally across from the petrol station, there is a house with a garden full of original sculptures, everyday and art objects, children’s toys, teddy bears and dolls.

 

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Pillimpo, who is actually known as José Garcia Martin, is constantly expanding and changing his unusual collection, the children of Teguise bring him their discarded toys, new color paintings enliven the large sculptures, unusual compositions call out for the viewer to notice.

 

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This strange collection of statues frequently stops passers by in their tracks.

Cars pause in the road whilst their passengers stare.

Pedestrians stop to browse the chaotic display of figurines.

The colour of the statues change frequently, shades of grey, green and pale pink.

 

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The house is referred to as the Casa Museo Mara Mao after the statue holding this name up.

The front door is generally open, although it is said the artist is shy about being photographed and doesn’t like people entering his garden.

Rogue dolls’ heads daubed with paint and teddy bears chained to the tree  have been embraced into this artist’s eclectic display.

In his 60’s Don Pillimpo is free to use his quirky imagination for everyone to wonder at.

Thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, pass the Pillimpo figurine park every year, but few people know the name of this artist.

 

Speechlessness, astonishment, amusement and helplessness is felt by those who pass by Pillimpos’s garden, as well as rejection, a sad shaking of the head, indifference, even fear.

But if you ask someone about these characters, who makes them, if they have any meaning, why Pillimpo dresses them in new colors over and over again, you only hear shrugs.

Maybe because it is not easy to approach the creator of this chaotic world?

 

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Because the God of this Garden, of these saint sculptures, dolls, teddy bears, plush moose, Santa Clauses and action toy monsters with names like “Cloverfield” or “Zombie Spawn” does not show his world to the audience?

Pillimpo does not want to explain his world.

This world is dominated by larger than life figures of sand and cement, and the iconography reminds all those who grew up in the Christian context of saints that in the midst of society children have become disposable victims.

 

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I never saw a greater balance between order and chaos, kitsch and authenticity.“, wrote a Spanish admirer of Pillimpos art on his blog.

Horrible.  I do not like it.  It’s just too heavy for me.“, an island-renowned German artist described his feelings about Pillimpo’s work.

Another artist looks at Pillimpos’s work from his own perspective of usual order and harmony:

So if my garden should look like this then you can instruct me!

 

So, is this art?

 

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Art is a human cultural product, the result of a creative process.

The artwork is usually at the end of this process, but can also be the process itself.

Admiration, as such, is essential to art, but this does not have to be immediate in time and can only be the result of gaining knowledge.” is one definition of art according to Wikipedia.

 

Perception, imagination and intuition are some of the requirements for the artistic process.

Pillimpo’s creativity and imagination are innate to him, he says.

A gift from God that he believes in, for which he is grateful.

He emphasizes this again and again.

He knows his art is not universally loved.

In their opinion, I disturb the cityscape.“, says Pillimpo.

 

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But they can not easily get rid of the man.

Thank God.

 

The land is his property.

The house in which he lives, and which is also inhabited by his creatures inside him, belongs to him.

He built it with his own hands.

No problem for the skilled bricklayer, who was born over half a century ago in his grandfather’s house near Teguise.

 

A hard time was the time of his youth, he recalls, and speaks of his mother, who gave birth to five more children, three girls and two boys.

Even as a young boy, Pillimpo had a thriving imagination.

Every morning, as he gazed at the sunbeams that filtered through the holes and cracks in the meagerly plastered walls, he was fascinated by the play of light and shadow and the forms his imagination accepted.

Too high reaching dreams for a boy from poverty, on Lanzarote, where at times, water was valuable, food scarce and schooling almost impossible.

Although little José could go to school, it was not fun for him.

When you come into the world, God has already given you all the skills you should have.

He gave me imagination.

 

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Pillimpo leaves the subject quickly behind, almost as fast as the questions – about the meaning of his characters, whether he gives them names, why he always wraps them in new colors and how often he does that, where do the toys come from and why does his art matter – come flying at him.

It’s as if he does not hear these questions right.

He mentions that he gets the toys from local children.

He is happy when they look into his garden as they hold their parents’ hands and proudly point to their old teddy bear.

A special meaning?

Do his characters have names?

Names?  What names ?  No, they have no names.

As for the colours, I change, because I just enjoy it.

I love colors and I love all these things.“, says Pillimpo.

 

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And, with that, the explanation is done for him.

Pillimpo goes into the house.

When he comes back, he has a magazine in his hand.

He leafs a bit until he finds what he’s looking for and then proudly shows an article about himself with many photos of his sculpture park and a poem.

He reads it aloud.

The interviewers are silent.

They go home but their thoughts remain in this other world for a long time.

In Pillimpos’s world.

 

In Pillimpos’s world, toys cast out of children’s rooms find a new home, new appreciation and attention.

A new place where they are admired or pitied.

Here, childlike feelings return to the adult.

No viewer can escape the power of this mixture of chaos and order, kitsch and originality.

 

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Who is this man and why does he do what he does?

It is futile to ask others.

Nobody really knows anything about him.

There are only stories, rumours, now and then a grin.

 

Pillimpo began to scrape drawings in the sand with a stick and form figures out of loam, sand and water.

He often sits for hours, giving free rein to his imagination.

 

Not everyone likes that, but his mother had understood.

She had protected him, even defended his “quirks” from others, and did not laugh when he started to make music and dreamed of becoming an actor.

 

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Pillimpo speaks of his dreams only to those able to exchange views with a true philosopher.

I would like to speak with a great thinker, so maybe I can know if I’m right in my views or if I’m a bit of a fool.“, he says seriously.

 

I cannot help but compare and contrast the Pirate Museum with the garden of Don Pillimpo.

 

The former forms the fantastic from facts best forgotten in the frentic thirst for profits.

The latter at no cost leaves a legacy of nostalgia for the children we once were.

 

The Museum claims to be history but it is not.

The garden makes no claims about being art but it is.

 

Teguise, for me, will never be about El Mercadillo (the name of this Sunday market) or the Castillo Santa Bárbara, despite how both dominate the attention.

Teguise is instead quiet humble pride whispered from a timple workshop and an eclectic sculpture garden.

 

And this is something no pirate could ever take from me.

 

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Lonely Planet Canary Islands / DK Eyewitness Canary Islands / Eberhard Fohrer, Lanzarote / http://www.lanzarote37.net / https://lanzaroteinfomration.co.uk

Canada Slim and the Swedish Pinot

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 20 April 2019

The Norwegians find them insufferably puffed up.

The Danes consider them to be party poopers.

The Brits see them as sexy but cold.

The Americans think they are Swiss!

 

Flag of Sweden

Above: Flag of Sweden

 

Author Sven Linquist summed it up thus:

The Swedes look at the world through a square frame nailed together by Martin Luther, Gustav Vasa (the founder of the Swedish state), the Temperance Movement and 100 years of socialism.

Luther contributed the Swedish taste for simplicity.

Vasa gave the Swedes a national identity.

The Temperance Movement gave rise to the Swedish tendency to be sanctimonious.

Socialism gave the Swedes a mentality of work as necessary but not everything.

 

EU-Sweden (orthographic projection).svg

 

Foreigners living in Sweden find the natives socially impenetrable, as neighbours mind their own business and colleagues go straight home after work.

The Swedes themselves don’t actually dislike any nation in particular, because they are quietly confident in Swedish superiority.

Foreigners are good news, because with their funny faces and horrific habits they remind Swedes how wonderful it is to be Swedish and normal.

 

 

I have vacationed in Sweden with my wife and I have worked with a Swede in Switzerland and I find very little that is objectionable about the Swedes.

I find them less puffed up than Parisians, more party hardy than my fellow Canadians, as sexy as teenage voyeurism once suggested but not tempting enough to test my marriage vows, and I see in them more similarities with their Scandinavian neighbours than they would care to admit.

 

Swedish love story poster.jpg

 

Simple?

Maybe the architecture and IKEA furniture is, but a Swedish woman is no less and no more complicated than her international counterparts.

Ikea logo.svg

Patriotic?

Certainly, they are not more patriotic than Canadians or Swiss.

Though they display their national flag everywhere as the Americans do theirs, the Swedish are far more secure in their superiority than the Americans are.

 

The Swedes don’t need to boast.

They simply and quietly know their own value.

 

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Above: The coat of arms of Sweden

 

Sanctimonious?

Perhaps the women are, for the Swedes believe that they are the first in the world to achieve total equality between the sexes, thus a man who isn’t taciturn and submissive is a threat to that uneasy balance between the sexes.

I feel that in the quest to be emancipated the Swedish female feels threatened if the male requests the same.

Only a woman dares tell a man how wrong he is.

A man dares not do the same to her without serious conflict and consequence.

 

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As for the work ethic, I can only say that the Sweet Suede that I once worked with was a hardy and competent and well-respected worker beloved by both staff and customers.

 

Starbucks Corporation Logo 2011.svg

 

I never thought that I would even think about Sweden and Swedish women during my visit to the Alsace Wine Route.

I was wrong.

 

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Alsace, France, 2 January 2019

Alsace is the smallest region in France as regards area, but the most highly populated as regards density.

Alsace has 1,734,000 inhabitants – 209 inhabitants per square kilometre, whereas the average number of inhabitants per square kilometre in Metropolitan France is 108.

This is by no means the only peculiarity of this region….

 

Location of Alsace

 

Officially the Alsace Wine Route is broken into two sections: the one most folks travel and the northern section most don’t.

The northern section begins in the town of Wissembourg.

 

Wissembourg 3.JPG

 

I have written about Wissembourg before.

A monastery town and former garrison, Wissembourg offers numerous attractions such as the Abbey Church of St. Peter and St. Paul with its gigantic representation of St. Christopher, the Fritz House built in 1550, and the Bruch – the town’s old quarter.

 

 

(Please see Canada Slim and the Burning King of my other blog Building Everest for more on Wissembourg.  https://buildingeverest.wordpress.com)

 

Far away from the traditional half of the famous Alsatian wine route between Marlenheim and Thann, quite competitive wine is also being produced near Wissembourg at the base of the first foothills of the northern Vosges in heavy, fat clay soil.

 

Carte topographique des Vosges.svg

 

Viticulture here has a long tradition.

Introduced by the roamin’ Romans, later promoted by the monks of Wissembourg, today 200 sideline wine makers cultivate some 175 hectares of all sorts of grape varieties like Graubünden, Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer, from the five villages of Rott, Oberhoffen, Steinseltz, Riedseltz and Cleebourg.

 

 

Private wine sales are not common as the wine makers deliver almost all of their grapes to the Cleebourg Wine Cooperative which wine lovers should not miss.

 

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In the lovely hilly countryside around the five villages with their vineyards and numerous fruit trees you can also go for a walk and then stop in at the Ferme Auberge Moulin des 7 Fontaines (Mill of the Seven Fountains) in the area – a particularly beautiful place.

 

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A 47 minute, 3.5 kilometre stroll south west of Wissembourg finds the pedestrian in the village of Rott (population: 473) where one finds a barrel that the enterprising Mayor Louis Andres Rott turned into a bar, engraved with the worthy maxim:

If you drink, you die.

If you don’t drink you die, so….

 

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Above: Rott, Alsace, France

 

Rott is one of 50 Alsatian communities with a simultaneum (or shared church) with different Christian denominations meeting at different times and presided over by different clergy.

Above the village on the Col de Pigeonnier stands the electric tower, the Émetteur de l’Eselsberg.

 

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The Cleebourg vineyard is at the northernmost point of the Alsatian winemaking area and covers all its communes as well as Wissembourg, the main town in the canton.

The vineyard stretches from Rott, with its belfry / clock tower overlooking the cemetery that doubled as a defensive hideout in the 18th century, to Riedseltz on the banks of the Rhine.

Planted mainly with hybrids or fallen into disuse until the end of the Second World War, the vines were uprooted and the vineyards replanted with the now-famous classic Alsace varieties since the 1950s.

The local wine producers belong to the Cleebourg cooperative, which has an excellent reputation for all things Pinot, including a blanc de blanc crémant, the Prince Casimir.

 

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Follow the signs of the small rural routes to the village of Oberhoffen lès Wissembourg.

With about 300 inhabitants, Oberhoffen-lès-Wissembourg is one of the smallest communes in the community of communes whose main resource comes from the communal forest.

 

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Orchards and vineyards surround the village.

The vines that contribute to the development of the Karschweg, the Pinot gris (formerly Tokay pinot gris) local vinified by the Cleebourg cooperative cellar.

 

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The discovery of the village can also be done by taking the tree path that crosses the town.

 

Located at the foot of the Vosges hills, Oberhoffen-lès-Wissembourg was first attached to the bailiwick of Cleebourg, then passed under the influence of Puller de Hohenbourg to finish as the Duchy of Deux-Ponts where it will remain until the revolution.

It was not until 1927 that the town became known as Oberhoffen-lès-Wissembourg because of its geographical proximity to Wissembourg.

 

 

Close by is the equally small village of Steinseltz by the River Hausauerbach in the region known as Outre-Forêt (“beyond the forest“).

 

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The origin of the history of Steinseltz is closely linked to that of the Abbey of Wissembourg, founded in the 8th century by the monk Dagobert of Speyer.

Locals still bear witness to this distant time like that of Auf der Hub.

A hub was a plot of land rented by the convent to private individuals against a well-defined tenancy.

In 1401, after the decline of the Abbey of Wissembourg, the lords of Hohenbourg, seized the village as well as those of Cleebourg, Oberhoffen-lès-Wissembourg and Rott.

His successor Wirich II built Castle Cleebourg in 1412.

 

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In 1475, Wirich III allied with Duke Louis de Deux-Ponts against the Elector Palatine Frédéric.

Victorious, the latter annexed the village of Steinseltz.

 

In 1504, Maximilian of Habsburg attributed the village of Steinseltz to the Duchy of Zweibrücken, which thus exercised a right of collation.

They integrated Steinseltz to the Bailiwick of Cleebourg, which they held until the Revolution.

 

On 4 August 1870, the Imperial Prince Frederick William went to the locality of Schafbusch to bow before the remains of Abel Douay.

 

In Steinseltz, every August in odd years, there is a feast in honor of the geranium, a symbol of Alsace.

 

Geranium February 2008-1.jpg

 

At the heart of the village, Ferme Burger welcomes, every first Wednesday of the month, a market of local and organic products.

There are food products (breads, vegetables, fruits, oils, chocolate, honey) as well as aesthetic products such as essential oils, soaps or herbs.

 

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And Steinseltz produced Marie….

 

Marie (Trautmann) Jaëll (17 August 1846 – 4 February 1925) was a French pianist, composer and pedagogue.

 

 

Marie Jaëll composed pieces for piano, concertos, quartets, and others.

She dedicated her cello concerto to Jules Delsart and was the first pianist to perform all the piano sonatas of Beethoven in Paris.

She did scientific studies of hand techniques in piano playing and attempted to replace traditional drilling with systematic piano methods.

Her students included Albert Schweitzer, who studied with her while also studying organ with Charles-Marie Widor in 1898-99.

Her father was the mayor of Steinseltz in Alsace and her mother was a lover of the arts.

 

She began piano studies at the age of six and by seven, she was studying under piano pedagogues F.B. Hamma and Ignaz Moscheles in Stuttgart.

Marie’s mother served as her advocate and manager.

A year after she began lessons with Hamma and Moscheles, she gave concerts in Germany and Switzerland.

In 1856, the ten-year-old Marie was introduced to the piano teacher Heinrich Herz at the Paris Conservatory.

 

 

After just four months as an official student at the Conservatory, she won the First Prize of Piano.

Her performances were recognized by the public and local newspapers.

 

The Revue et gazette musicale printed a review on 27 July 1862 that read: “She marked the piece with the seal of her individual nature.

Her higher mechanism, her beautiful style, her play deliciously moderate, with an irreproachable purity, an exquisite taste, a lofty elegance, constantly filled the audience with wonder.

 

On August 9, 1866, at twenty years of age, Marie married the Austrian concert pianist, Alfred Jaëll.

 

Above: Alfred Jaell (1832 – 1882)

 

She was then known variously as Marie Trautmann, Marie Jaëll, Marie Jaëll Trautmann or Marie Trautmann Jaëll.

Alfred was fifteen years older than Marie and had been a student of Chopin.

The husband and wife team performed popular pieces, duos, solos, and compositions of their own throughout Europe and Russia.

As a pianist, Marie specialized in the music of Schumann, Liszt, and Beethoven.

They transcribed Beethoven’s “Marcia alla Turca Athens Ruins” for piano.

The score was successfully published in 1872.

Alfred was able to use his success and fame to help Marie meet with various composers and performers throughout their travels.

 

In 1868, Marie met the composer and pianist Franz Liszt.

A record of Liszt’s comments about Marie survives in an article published in the American Record Guide:

Marie Jaëll has the brains of a philosopher and the fingers of an artist.

Liszt introduced Marie to other great composers and performers of the day—for example, Johannes Brahms and Anton Rubinstein.

 

By 1871, Marie’s compositions began to be published.

With the death of her husband in 1881, Marie had the opportunity to study with Liszt in Weimar and with Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck in Paris.

She also had composition lessons with César Franck and Camille Saint-Saëns, who dedicated his Piano Concerto No. 1 and the Étude en forme de valse to her.

Saint-Saëns thought highly enough of Marie to introduce her to the Society of Music Composers—a great honor for women in those days.

 

After struggling with tendonitis, Jaëll began to study neuroscience.

The strain on her playing and performing led her to research physiology.

Jaëll studied a wide variety of subjects pertaining to the functioning of the body and also ventured into psychology:

She wanted to combine the emotional and spiritual act of creating beautiful music with the physiological aspects of tactile, additive, and visual sensory.

Dr. Charles Féré assisted Jaëll in her research of physiology.

 

Her studies included how music affects the connection between mind and body, as well as how to apply this knowledge to intelligence and sensitivity in teaching music.

 

Liszt’s music had such a tremendous influence on Jaëll that she sought to gain as much insight into his methods and techniques as possible.

 

This research and study lead to Jaëll creating her own teaching method based on her findings.

Jaëll’s teaching method was known as the ‘Jaëll Method‘.

Her method was created through a process of trial and error with herself and her students.

Jaëll’s goal was for her students to feel a deep connection to the piano.

An eleven-book series on piano technique resulted from her research and experience.

Piano pedagogues have since drawn insight into teaching techniques of the hand from her method and books.

In fact, her method is still in use today.

As a result of her studies, Jaëll was able to compile her extensive research into a technique book entitled L’intelligence et le rythme dans les mouvements artistiques.

This text is used by pianists and piano pedagogues as a reference, specifically with hand position and playing techniques.

She died in Paris.

 

 

Walk out of Jaell’s Steinseltz and head west and then south following signposts to Cleebourg.

Cleebourg is a quiet village, with some half-timbered winemakers’ houses built on sandstone bedrock.

Cleebourg’s vineyards are the northernmost point of the Wine Route and though they are planted with the classic varieties, Pinot Gris is indisputably the most successful wine made here.

The grapes, grown on a rocky volcanic soil, produce crisp wine with a characteristically smoky aroma with lily undertones.

Cleebourg used to belong to the Palatin Zweibrückens, but a curious love story in the 17th century brought it under the Swedish crown….

 

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John Casimir, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Kleeburg (1589 – 1652) was the son of John I, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken and his wife, Duchess Magdalene of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and was the founder of a branch of Wittelsbach Counts Palatine often called the Swedish line, because it gave rise to three subsequent kings of Sweden, but more commonly known as the Kleeburg (or Cleebourg) line.

 

Johan Kasimir, 1589-1652, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken (David Beck) - Nationalmuseum - 15921.tif

 

In 1591 his father stipulated that, as the youngest son, John Casimir would receive as appanage the countship of Neukastell in the Palatinate.

Upon their father’s death in 1611, however, the eldest son, John II, Count Palatine of Zweibrucken, instead signed a compromise with John Casimir whereby the latter received only the castle at Neukastell coupled with an annuity of 3000 florins from the countship’s revenues (similarly, John Casimir’s elder brother, Frederick Casimir, received the castle at Landsberg with a small surrounding domain, instead of the entire Landsberg appanage bequeathed to him paternally).

On 11 June 1615, Casimir married his second cousin Catherine of Sweden, and their son eventually became King Charles X of Sweden.

Five of his children with Catherine survived infancy:

  • Christina Magdalena (1616–1662)
    • married Frederick VI, Margrave of Baden-Durlach.
    • King Adolf Frederick of Sweden was her great-grandson.
  • King Charles X Gustav of Sweden (1622–1660)
  • Maria Eufrosyne (1625–1687)
    • married Count Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie
  • Eleonora Catherine (1626–1692)
    • married Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse-Eschwege
  • Adolf John (1629–1689)

 

Catherine of Sweden (Swedish: Katarina) (1584 – 1638) was a Swedish princess and a Countess Palatine of Zweibrücken as the consort of her second cousin John Casimir of Palatinate-Zweibrücken.

 

Katarina, 1584-1638, prinsessa av Sverige pfalzgrevinna av Zweibrücken (Jacob Heinrich Elbfas) - Nationalmuseum - 15100.tif

 

She is known as the periodical foster mother of Queen Christina of Sweden.

 

Catherine was the daughter of King Charles IX of Sweden and his first spouse Maria of the Palatinate-Simmern.

Her personality was described as “a happy union of her father’s power and wisdom and her mother’s tender humility“.

Her mother died in 1589 and Catherine was placed in the care of the German Euphrosina Heldina von Dieffenau, whom she praised much later in life.

 

In 1592, her father remarried to Christina of Holstein-Gottorp.

She reportedly got along well with her stepmother and was close to her half siblings, especially her eldest brother, the future King Gustavus Adolphus, who is noted to have been very affectionate toward her.

In later letters to her consort, however, it seems that she was not always as much in agreement with her stepmother as she gave the impression to be.

 

Her father became regent in 1598 and was crowned king in 1607.

 

In 1611, her brother succeeded her father as King Gustavus Adolphus.

Her brother found Catherine sensible and wise and she is reported to have acted as his confidante and adviser on several occasions.

 

Catherine married late for a Princess of her period.

Although she was a great heiress, her status on the international royal marriage market was uncertain because of the political situation in Sweden after her father had conquered the throne from his nephew Sigismund.

Her parents’ marriage had been an alliance with the anti-Habsburg party in Germany, which in turn was allied with King Henry IV of France and the French Huguenots.

 

Coat of arms of Sweden.svg

 

In 1599, there were plans to arrange a marriage between her and the Protestant French Prince Henri, Duke of Rohan, leader of the French Huguenots.

Henry married Marguerite de Béthune in 1603.

After the Treaty of Knäred in 1613, her status became more secure.

 

With the support of her stepmother Queen Dowager Christina, the queen dowager’s brother Archbishop John Frederik of Bremen arranged the marriage between Catherine and her relative (Count Palatine) John Casimir of Palatinate-Zweibrücken.

Though relatively poor, he had contacts which were deemed valuable to Sweden, though Count Axel Oxenstierna opposed the marriage.

The marriage took place on 11 June 1615 in Stockholm.

 

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Above: Stockholm Royal Palace

 

Catherine was, by the will of both her parents as well as by the law regarding the dowry of Swedish Princesses, one of the wealthiest heirs in Sweden.

As the economic situation at the time was strained, she remained in Sweden the first years after her marriage to guard her interests.

 

In January 1618, she left for Alsace.

There, the couple was given the Kleeburg Castle as their residence.

The year after, John Casimir started to build a new residence, the Renaissance Palace Katharinenburg near Kleeburg.

 


 

In 1620, the Thirty Years’ War forced them to flee to Strasbourg.

In 1622, her brother King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden asked her to return to Sweden with her family.

The death of her younger brother in Sweden, as well as the lack of heirs to the Swedish throne was evidently the reason why the monarch wished to move her to safety away from the Thirty Years’ War.

Catherine accepted the invitation and arrived to Sweden with her family in June 1622.

At her arrival, the birth of her son Charles immediately strengthened her position.

 

In Sweden, she and her consort were granted Stegeborg Castle and a county in Östergötland as their fief and residence and as payment of her dowry:

Catherine was styled Countess of Stegeborg.

Catherine and John Casimir settled in well at Stegeborg, where they maintained a royal standard of living:

They kept a court with 60 formal ladies-in-waiting and courtiers and an official table.

 

 

Catherine actively engaged herself in the management of the estates, and was in 1626 given Skenas Royal Estate as her personal fief.

 

Catherine was on very good terms with her brother King Gustavus Adolphus, who is known to have asked her for advice.

During his trips, he often asked her to try to console and control his consort, Queen Maria Eleonora.

 

Catherine was exposed to certain intrigues at court with the purpose of blackening her name in the eyes of the royal couple, but she managed to avoid these plots.

She was on good terms with the dynasties of Pfalz and Brandenburg, with whom she corresponded and who considered her to be wise and to have good judgment.

 

In 1631, Catherine was given the custody of her niece, Princess Christina, the heir to the throne, when the queen was allowed to join the king in Germany, where he participated in the Thirty Years’ War.

Christina remained in her care until Maria Eleonora returned to Sweden upon the death of Gustavus Adolphus in 1632.

 

After the death of King Gustavus Adolphus, the couple came in conflict with the Guardian Government of Queen Christina over their position and rights to Stegeborg.

When John Casimir broke with the royal council in 1633, the couple retired from court to Stegeborg.

Catherine did not show any interest in participation in state affairs.

 

In 1636, however, Queen Dowager Maria Eleonora was deemed an unsuitable guardian and deprived of the custody of the young monarch, and Catherine was appointed official guardian and foster mother with the responsibility of the young queen’s upbringing.

The appointment was made upon the recommendation of Count Axel Oxenstierna and she reportedly accepted the task with reluctance.

This appointment destroyed her relationship with Maria Eleonora.

 

The years in Catherine’s care are described by Christina as happy ones.

Princess Catherine personally enjoyed great respect and popularity in Sweden as a member of the royal house and as the foster parent of the monarch:

 

However, this respect did not include her consort, who was given no task or position at court whatsoever.

John Casimir was himself careful to point out her rank as a Royal Princess, but he was himself exposed to some humiliation because of their difference in rank.

One example was at the opening of Parliament in 1633, when Catherine in accordance with the wish of the Royal Council followed Queen Christina in the procession, while John Casimir was given the choice to stand and watch the ceremony from a window or not be present at all.

 

Catherine died in Västerås, where the royal court had fled from an outbreak of plague in Stockholm.

At her death, Axel Oxenstierna said, that he would rather have buried his own mother twice, than once again see “the premature death of this noble Princess“.

After her death, the royal council appointed two foster mothers for the queen to replace her: Countess Ebba Leijonhufvud and Christina Natt och Dag.

The Katarina kyrka in Stockholm is named after her.

 

Katarina kyrka January 2013 02.jpg

 

The marriage of John and Katarina reminds me of two other marriages: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and my own.

 

 

Victoria and Albert were, like John and Katarina, cousins.

The Princes Consort were considered less worthy of respect than their lady heiresses to major kingdoms’ thrones.

Both royal couples gave birth to children who would rise to great power.

 

My wife and I are not cousins nor nobility of any sort, but, like Katarina, my wife is considered sensible and wise.

She, like many women, could certainly have married a man far more appropriate for her and her ambitions, and yet we, like John and Katarina, like Victoria and Albert, have remained together despite our inequalities.

Like John and Katarina, my wife and I lived apart from one another for years despite our union.

I, like John, followed my bride to her home country.

 

 

(Less than 4 kilometres south of Cleebourg is the municipality of Drachenbronn-Birlenbach, where one can find both the original site of Katharienburg as well as the Musée Pierre Jost.

The Pierre Jost Museum is situated near the Ouvrage Hochwald, one of the major fortifications of the Maginot Line in France, which documents the story of the fortifications before, during and after World War II.

The Ouvrage Hochwald fortification was built in the Hochwald massif between 1929 and 1935 and was the strongest in Alsace.

It was capable of housing 1,200 men.

It had eleven blocks, with turrets, casemates to house the infantry, three entry blocks and an anti-tank ditch.

 

Maginot Line 1944.jpg

 

Construction of the Museum in honor of the builders and defenders of the Maginot Line began in 1972, led by Pierre Jost.

The Museum was set up in the old M1 magazine.

The original museum was closed in 2009 since it no longer met public safety standards.

On 12 September 2011 the museum was re-opened in building T4 at airbase 901 in Drachenbronn-Birlenbach.

The new premises, opened in time for Heritage Day on 18 September 2011, has more than 350 square metres (3,800 sq ft) of space.

 

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The first room has some artillery pieces, in use until 1940, and press clippings of the early days of liberation towards the end of World War II.

The Museum has rooms for exhibits that cover each period in the life of the fortification:

  • Construction in 1930–1935
  • Occupation by the French in 1935–1940
  • Occupation by the Germans in 1940–1945
  • The Cold War, when the fortification was viewed as defense against Soviet tanks advancing towards Paris.
  • The room for the 1935–1940 period has the equipment, arms and personal effects of soldiers of that period.
  • The 1940–1945 room has German propaganda posters and relics from the liberation.
  • Part of the Museum also tells the story of the airbase.
  • There are many photographs showing the daily life of the soldiers during the different periods.

Sadly, the Musée Pierre Jost is open only during the Journées des Patrimoine, three days each September.)

 

Alsace is wine-growing country.

 

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It has long been so and will probably long be so, but Sweden, on the other hand….

 

 

Sweden is well north of the area where the European vine, Vitis vinifera, occurs naturally.

 

There is no tradition of wine production from grapes in the country.

 

Some sources claim that some monastic vineyards were established when the Roman Catholic church established monasteries in Sweden in medieval times, when Sweden’s climate was milder, but traces of this supposed viticulture are much less evident than the corresponding activities in England, for example.

Small-scale growing of grapes in Swedish orangeries and other greenhouses have occurred for a long time, but the purpose of such plantations were either to provide fruit (grapes) or for decoration or exhibition purposes and not to provide grapes for wine production.

 

Towards the end of the 20th century, commercial viticulture slowly crept north, into areas than the well-established wine regions, as evidenced by Canadian wine, English wine and Danish wine.

This trend was partially made possible by the use of new hybrid grape varieties and partially by new viticultural techniques.

 

The idea of commercial freeland viticulture in Sweden appeared in the 1990s.

Some pioneers, especially in Skåne (Scania), took their inspiration from nearby Denmark, where viticulture started earlier than in Sweden, while others took their inspiration from experiences in other winemaking countries.

 

Perhaps surprisingly, the first two wineries of some size were not established in the far south of Sweden, but in Södermanland County close to Flen (in an area where orchards were common) and on the island of Gotland, which has the largest number of sunshine hours in Sweden.

Later expansions have mostly taken place in Scania, though.

 

There are also small-scale viticulturalists who grow their grapes in greenhouses rather than in the open.

 

Small quantities of a few commercial wines made their way into the market via Systembolaget from the early 2000s.

Only a handful of Swedish producers can be considered to be commercial operations, rather than hobby wine makers.

In 2006, the Swedish Board of Agriculture counted four Swedish companies that commercialized wine produced from their own vineyards.

The total production was 5,617 litres (1,236 imperial gallons; 1,484 US gallons), of which 3,632 litres (799 imperial gallons; 959 US gallons) were red and 1,985 litres (437 imperial gallons; 524 US gallons) white, and this amount was produced from around 10 hectares (25 acres) of vineyards.

The Association of Swedish winegrowers estimates 30-40 vinegrowing establishments in Scania, but this number includes hobby growers with a fraction of a hectare of vineyards.

 

 

And here’s the thing, the point I am trying to make….

 

Sometimes things, sometimes people, thrive where no one thinks they will.

Sometimes places, sometimes people, have a past never imagined by others.

 

There is absolutely no reason to imagine that this quiet obscure section of the Alsace Wine Route could produce anything or anyone worthy of attention.

And yet the wine is very fine and the region has fostered both talent and royalty.

 

 

There is absolutely no proof in my possession that John and Katarina ever inspired Swedish wine production through their Alsatian experiences, but nonetheless I am seduced by the possibility.

 

There was no reason why the Maginot Line should not have defended France for centuries to come.

Unless invading Germans simply go around this line of walled fortifications.

 

(Trump could learn from the Maginot Line that a border wall is useless if desperate folks use desperate tactics like simply flying over the thing.)

 

There is no just cause why Alsace should be considered either French or German despite centuries of struggle and bloodshed, for even the smallest of walks through the Alsatian countryside reveals that these people are neither French nor German but are instead indefatiguably, eternally, proudly and uniquely Alsatian.

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Is life in this tiny corner of France simple?

It is no less fascinating, no less complicated, than anywhere else humanity has chosen to settle.

 

Flag of France

 

Are Alsatians proud French patriots?

In the sense of defending their homes against the destructiveness of invasion, Alsatians are patriotic, but this patriotism is reserved for Alsace alone.

 

Flag of Alsace

 

For here the visitor hears both French and German spoken, and sees le francais and Deutsch written everywhere.

Alsace once upon a time was conquered by the French, was then conquered by the Germans, then liberated once more by the French.

But it is a long way, both geographically and philosophically, from Berlin and Paris.

 

 

Could one suggest that Alsatians are sanctimonious?

Perhaps.

But only because they quietly know their own value and sense their own superiority.

 

 

Today is Saturday and all of this conversing about wine has given me a craving for a fine glass of pinot.

I wonder whether the wine shop between Starbucks and the train station in St. Gallen will be still open after my shift ends.

I wonder whether I will buy a bottle of the Alsatian or the Swedish.

 

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Peter Berlin, Xenophobe’s Guide to the Swedes / Marie-Christine Périllon, Alsace: A Tourist Guide to the Entire Region / Jacky Bind & Jean Claude Colin, Alsace: The Wine Route / Michèle-Caroline Heck, The Golden Book of Alsace / Antje & Gunther Schwab, Elsass / Rough Guide France / Lonely Planet France

Canada Slim and the Chocolate Factory of Unhappiness

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 30 January 2019

This is not India, but nonetheless there are a few sacred cows in Switzerland one would be wise to not offend.

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First, one should never question Switzerland’s superiority….

In anything.

Just as the laws of physics decree that the bumblebee cannot possibly fly, so the laws of economics similarly decree that Switzerland should not be doing so sickeningly well.

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It is land-locked, has a home market smaller than London, speaks four languages, has no natural resources other than hydroelectric power, a little salt and few fish, no colonies nor membership in any major trading block, Switzerland should have faded from existence centuries ago.

Instead the Swiss are the only nation to make the Germans appear inefficient, the French undiplomatic and Texans poor.

Thus their mountains are higher, their tunnels longer, their watches superior, their cheese holey, their chocolate legendary and their gold real.

Flag of Switzerland

Second, appearances are deceiving.

Switzerland is not really a nation but rather a collection of 26 nations (or cantons) which finance themselves, raise their own taxes and spend them as they want.

Or one could also easily argue that it is not a collection of 26 cantons but rather an assemblage of 3,000 totally independent communities each making their own decisions about welfare, gas, electricity, water, roads and public holidays.

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They are successful and proud of what they have accomplished yet simultaneously refuse to believe they are doing well and are convinced that tomorrow they will lose everything they have worked for.

They are officially quadlingual polyglots.

Yet not only have I never heard of anyone who can speak all four (French, German, Italian and Rumanisch) languages, I have rarely encountered outside of Freiburg/Freibourg and Biel/Bienne anyone who is bilingual in even two of the four.

In the Bundeshaus in Bern (the national/federal parliament in the capital) one sees a minor miracle of one member speaking in one language while the other member responds in a different one with no loss of comprehension or pause in conversation.

But beyond Bern, when the Swiss have to communicate in an official language not their own, then in all likelihood the French speaker will address his German counterpart in English and vice versa.

 

The Swiss Army doesn’t actually use the Swiss Army knives the tourists buy.

Swiss cheese is not called Swiss but Emmentaler.

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Swiss fondue is simply (cheese) fondue while a meat fondue is inexplicably called a Chinese fondue.

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Two Swiss national heroes are also problematic puzzlers.

 

Heidi, everyone’s favourite Swiss Miss, though created by a Swiss writer, was actually a German girl who moved to Switzerland to live with her Swiss grandfather in Frau Johanna Spyri’s books.

William Tell (or Wilhelm) is a proud Swiss symbol of independence but whether he actually existed or whether he was invented by those who were not Swiss (Germans Goethe and Friedrich Schiller / Italy’s Rossini) is debatable.

The cuckoo clock is not Swiss.

It is German from the Black Forest, despite what Orson Wells would have us believe.

 

Trains are not as punctual as the legend suggests that folks could use their stopwatches to predict a train’s exact arrival.

The S8 connecting Schaffhausen with St. Gallen is, in my personal experience of using it on an almost daily basis, more often tardy rather than timely.

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The Swiss are world class diploments who make the world believe that they want the world to love them, but they have a problem with not loving the world in return but not liking other Swiss as well.

 

They are famous for their neutrality yet armed to the teeth.

 

And much like my fellow Canadians, they are proud of their homeland yet would be hard-pressed to say what exactly that identity is of which they are proud.

 

They are conservative to the extreme, yet Switzerland has harboured radicals of every political ideology imaginable (including Mussolini and Lenin), has surprised with artistic movements (like Dadaism and Bauhaus) and has sheltered movie and music legends who revolutionized the world with their creativity and talent (like Freddy Mercury, Charlie Chaplin and Tina Turner).

Switzerland is dull and uninspiring.

Even though Mary Shelley was English her Frankenstein‘s Monster was as Swiss as the Matterhorn.

 

James Bond is the product of a Swiss mother and a Scottish father and much of Bond lore (movies and literature) has taken place within Switzerland.

 

A land of contradictions with an identity as firmly guarded as a bank vault.

 

Let us consider Swiss chocolate.

The world over, chocolate is the foodstuff most readily identifiable with Switzerland.

Chocolate is everywhere.

It is the afternoon pick-me-up, the sensual indulgence, the accoutrement to seduction.

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The ancient Aztecs believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac and Emperor Montezuma would gorge himself on chocolate in advance of his trysts as a type of non-prescription Viagra.

 

The solid, moldable chocolate “bar” was developed by the Bristol confectioner Joseph Fry in 1847.

But many early pioneers of chocolate-making were Swis:

  • Francois-Louis Cailler, who started production of what was then largely sold as a restorative tonic at Vevey in 1819.

  • He was soon followed by Philippe Suchard in Neuchâtel.

  • Until 1875, all chocolate was dark and bitter, but in that year Vevey-based Daniel Peter, a candlemaker who married Cailler’s daughter, became involved in chocolate-making, invented milk chocolate, aided by his neighbour Henri Nestlé.

  • Nestlé started his firm (now one of the world’s largest food multinationals) by manufacturing condensed milk, which Peter used in chocolate manufacture in preference to the too-watery ordinary milk, creating a concoction that was not only more palatable than previously available but less expensive as well.

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  • In 1879 Rodolphe Lindt of Bern invented “conching“, a process which creates the smooth melting chocolate familiar today.

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  • Jean Tobler, also of Bern, was another pioneer and today every one of the seven billion triangles of Toblerone eaten annually are still produced in that city.

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Today, more chocolate is sold in Switzerland per head of population than any other country.

 

The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor.

After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted.

The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, unadulterated chocolate in rough form.

Once the cocoa mass is liquefied by heating, it is called chocolate liquor.

The liquor also may be cooled and processed into its two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Baking chocolate, also called bitter chocolate, contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions, without any added sugar.

Powdered baking cocoa, which contains more fiber than it contains cocoa butter, can be processed with alkali to produce Dutch cocoa.

Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or added vegetable oils, and sugar.

Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk.

White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no cocoa solids.

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Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world, and many foodstuffs involving chocolate exist, particularly desserts, including cakes, pudding, mousse, chocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies.

Many candies are filled with or coated with sweetened chocolate, and bars of solid chocolate and candy bars coated in chocolate are eaten as snacks.

Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes (such as eggs, hearts, coins) are traditional on certain Western holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Hanukkah.

Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, such as chocolate milk and hot chocolate, and in some alcoholic drinks, such as creme de cacao.

 

Chocolate is big business.

In 2005 the global market was approximately $100 billion.

Each year, the world consumes close to three million tons of chocolate and other cocoa products.

One Swiss firm alone, Lindt & Sprüngli had a revenue of CHF 4.088 billion in 2017.

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It was my discovery that Lindt has their headquarters and outlet shop in Kilchberg (near Zürich) and a separate visit to Maestrani’s Chocolarium outside the town of Flawil (near St. Gallen) that made me curious about the actual production of chocolate….

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Bern, Switzerland, 12 March 2013:

Lindt produces the Gold Bunny, a hollow milk chocolate rabbit in a variety of sizes available every Easter since 1952.

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Each bunny wears a small coloured ribbon bow around its neck identifying the type of chocolate contained within.

The milk chocolate bunny wears a red ribbon, the dark chocolate bunny wears a dark brown ribbon, the hazelnut bunny wears a green ribbon, and the white chocolate bunny wears a white ribbon.

Other chocolates are wrapped to look like carrots, chicks, or lambs.

The lambs are packaged with four white lambs and one black lamb.

During the Christmas season, Lindt produces a variety of items, including chocolate reindeer (which somewhat resemble the classic bunny), Santa, snowmen figures of various sizes, bears, bells, advent calendars and chocolate ornaments.

Various tins and boxes are available in the Lindt stores, the most popular colour schemes being the red and blue.

Other seasonal items include Lindt chocolate novelty golf balls.

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For Valentine’s Day, Lindt sells a boxed version of the Gold Bunny, which comes as a set of two kissing bunnies.

Other Valentine’s Day seasonal items include a selection of heart-shaped boxes of Lindor chocolate truffles.

 

They are the symbol of Easter in Switzerland, but the golden Lindt bunnies aren’t Swiss.

As revelations go, this one is up there with Heidi was German and Switzerland isn’t neutral in terms of shock value.

How can those cute little gold-wrapped bunnies not be Swiss?

They are made by Lindt & Sprüngli, one of the oldest and most famous chocolate makers in Switzerland.

Except they are made by Lindt & Sprüngli in Germany.

Flag of Germany

 

 

Diccon Bewes discovered this thanks to a friend from Helvetica LA who bought a Lindt bunny in Los Angeles only to find it was made in Germany.

Fair enough, Bewes thought, as America is an export market.

But surely the ones in Switzerland would be made here?

Wrong.

All the ones in the supermarkets in Bern are made in Germany, although you have to have good eyesight to discover that.

On the back of the bunny the ingredients are listed in German, French and Dutch but down at the bottom are the words:

Fabriqué par / Geproduceerd door: Lindt & Sprüngli GmbH (Allemagne/Deutschland) D-52072 Aachen.

Oddly this isn’t written in German given that they are sold in Germany.

Obviously they don’t want to have that anywhere for fear of scaring away canny Swiss consumers – even though most of them can understand the French anyway!

To reassure anyone who does cotton on to the fact that the bunny isn’t Swiss, there are the words:

Garantie de Qualité Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli Kilchberg/Suisse.

In other words, Lindt in Switzerland is the distributor for the German Lindt products.

At a time when “Swissness” is being debated in the Federal Parliament, it is interesting to see that this Swiss icon is not Swiss at all.

Bewes checked the shelves and Lindt very carefully marks their chocolate bars with SWISS MADE where it applies (so the bunny does not get that stamp of approval).

There was a proposal that foodstuffs get the SWISS MADE stamp only if 80% of their ingredients are Swiss, unless they include things that cannot possibly be Swiss because they are not grown here….

Diccon Bewes Logo

 

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 29 January 2019

But here’s the thing.

Not only is much of Swiss chocolate production reliant on imported sugar, but cocoa, the raw material of chocolate, itself isn’t grown in Switzerland.

Although cocoa originated in the Americas, West African countries, particularly Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, are the leading producers of cocoa in the 21st century, accounting for some 60% of the world cocoa supply.

Thousands of miles away from the American and European homes, where the majority of the world’s chocolate is devoured – Europe accounts for 45% of the world’s chocolate revenue – lies the denuded landscape of West Africa’s Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa.

As the nation’s name suggests, elephants once abundantly roamed the rain forests of the Côte d’Ivoire.

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Today’s reality is much different.

Only 200 – 400 elephants remain from an original population of hundreds of thousands.

Much of the country’s national parks and conservation lands have been cleared of their forests to make way for cocoa operators to feed demand from large chocolate companies like Nestlé, Cadbury and Mars.

 

Washington DC, 15 September 2017

NGO Mighty Earth released the results of an in-depth global investigation into the cocoa cartel that produces the raw material for chocolate.

The chocolate companies purchase the cocoa for their chocolate production from large agribusiness companies like Olam, Cargill and Barry Callebaut, who together control half the monopoly of global cocoa trade.

Most strikingly, the investigation found that for years the world’s major chocolate companies have been buying cocoa grown through the illegal deforestation of national parks and other protected forests, in addition to driving extensive deforestation outside of protected areas.

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In the world’s two largest cocoa producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the market created by the chocolate industry has been the primary driver behind the destruction of forests.

Much of Côte d’Ivoire’s national parks and protected areas have been entirely or almost entirely cleared of forest and replaced with cocoa growing operations.

Côte d'Ivoire (orthographic projection).svg

In the developed world, chocolate is seen as an affordable luxury that gives ordinary people a taste of sensuous delight at a modest cost.

But in West Africa, chocolate is rare and unaffordable to the majority of the population.

Most Ivorian cocoa farmers have never even tried chocolate.

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Much of Côte d’Ivoire was densely covered by forests when it achieved independence in 1960, making it prime habitat for forest elephants and chimpanzees.

Elephants are on the verge of total disappearance.

A female African bush elephant in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania

13 of 23 Ivorian protected areas have lost their entire primate populations.

Chimpanzees are now considered an endangered species.

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Côte d’Ivoire once boasted one of the highest rates of biodiversity in Africa, with thousands of endemic species.

Pygmy hippos, flying squirrels, pangolins, leopards and crocodiles are rapidly losing their last habitats.

Today less than 12% of the country remains forested and less than 4% remains densely forested.

Image result for deforestation in côte d'ivoire images

 

 

The cocoa industry in Côte d’Ivoire has not been content with landscapes it was able to clear legally.

In recent years, it has pushed large-scale growing operations into the country’s national parks and other protected areas.

Needless to say, clearing forest to produce cocoa within protected areas violates Ivorian law.

Flag of Ivory Coast

Above: Flag of Côte d’Ivoire

 

A study conducted by Ohio State University and several Ivorian academic institutions examined 23 protected areas in Côte d’Ivoire and found that seven of them had been entirely converted to cocoa.

More than 90% of the land mass of these protected areas was estimated to be covered by cocoa.

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Mighty Earth investigated Goin Débé Forest, Scio Forest, Mt. Péko National Park, Mt. Sassandra Forest, Tia Forest and Marahoué National Park.

Three of the world’s largest cocoa traders – Olam, Cargill and Barry Callebaut – buy cocoa grown illegally in protected areas.

They sell this cocoa to the world’s largest chocolate companies like Mars, Hershey, Mondelez, Ferrero, Lindt and others.

Other traders engage in similar practices.

Illegal deforestation for cocoa is an open secret throughout the entire chocolate supply chain.

 

Between five and six million people, largely small landholders, grow cocoa around the world.

In Côte d’Ivoire, cocoa farmers, who produce 43% of the world’s cocoa, earn around US 50 cents per day, 6.6% of the value of a chocolate bar.

By comparison, 35% goes to chocolate companies and 44% goes to retailers.

 

Additionally, the chocolate industry is notorious for labour rights abuses including slave labour and child labour.

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According to the US Department of Labor:

21% more children are illegally laboring on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast than five years ago.

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An estimated 2.1 million West African children are still engaged in dangerous, physically taxing cocoa harvesting.

Rather than eliminate the problem, the industry has merely pledged to reduce child labour in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 70% by 2020.

 

The investigation implicates almost every major chocolate brand and retailer, including Lindt & Sprüngli and my employer Starbucks.

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Mighty Earth shared the findings with 70 chocolate companies.

 

None denied sourcing cocoa from protected areas.

None disputed any of the facts presented.

 

Kilchberg, Switzerland, 12 August 2018

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This bedroom community of Zürich has only 8,470 people, but it is a significant place for three reasons:

  • It was the final home and resting place for Nobel Prize German author Thomas Mann as well as his wife and most of his children.

Mann in 1929

Above: Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955)

(See Canada Slim and the Family of Mann of this blog.)

  • It was also the final home and resting place of Swiss author Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, in whose honour Kilchberg has a Museum.

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Above: Conrad Meyer (1825 – 1898)

(See Canada Slim and the Anachronistic Man of this blog.)

  • It was the final home and resting place of Swiss chocolatier David Sprüngli-Schwartz and his son Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, and it remains the headquarters location of the company they founded, today’s Lindt & Sprüngli.

In 1836 David and Rudolf bought a small confectionery in the old town of Zürich, producing chocolates under the name David Sprüngli & Son.

Two years later, a small factory was added that produced chocolate in solid form.

With the retirement of Rudolf in 1892, the business was divided between his two sons.

The younger brother David received two confectionery stores that became known under the name Confiserie Sprüngli.

The elder brother Johann received the chocolate factory.

To raise the necessary finances for his expansion plans, Johann converted his private company into publicly traded Chocolat Sprüngli AG in 1899.

That same year, Johann acquired the chocolate factory of Rodolphe Lindt in Bern and the company changed its name to Aktiengesellschaft (AG) Vereingte Berner und Züricher Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli (the United Bern and Zürich Lindt and Sprüngli Chocolate Factories Ltd.).

In 1994, Lindt & Sprüngli acquired the Austrian chocolatier Hofbauer Österreich and integrated it, along with its Küfferle brand, into the company.

In 1997 and 1998, respectively, the company acquired the Italian chocolatier Caffarel and the American chocolatier Ghirardelli, and integrated both of them into the company as wholly owned subsidiaries.

Since then, Lindt & Sprüngli has expanded the once-regional Ghirardelli to the international market.

On 17 March 2009, Lindt announced the closure of 50 of its 80 retail boutiques in the United States because of weaker demand in the wake of the late-2000s recession.

On 14 July 2014, Lindt bought Russell Stover Candies, maker of Whitman’s Chocolate, for about $1 billion, the company’s largest acquisition to date.

In November 2018, Lindt opened its first American travel retail store in JFK Airport’s Terminal 1 and its flagship Canadian shop in Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto.

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Above: Lindt Yorkdale

 

Lindt & Sprüngli has twelve factories: Kilchberg, Switzerland; Aachen, Germany; Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France; Induno Olona, Italy; Gloggnitz, Austria; and Stratham, New Hampshire, in the United States.

The factory in Gloggnitz, Austria, manufactures products under the Hofbauer & Küfferle brand in addition to the Lindt brand.

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Caffarel’s factory is located in Luserna San Giovanni, Italy, and Ghirardelli’s factory is located in San Leandro, California, in the United States.

Furthermore, there are four more factories of Russell Stover in the United States.

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Lindt has opened over 410 chocolate cafés and shops all over the world.

The cafés’ menu offers mostly focuses on chocolate and desserts.

They also sell handmade chocolates, macaroons, cakes, and ice cream.

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Above: “The Little Wash House“, Lindt Café, Zürich

 

Originally, Lindor was introduced as a bar in 1949 and later in 1967 in form of a ball.

Lindor is a type of chocolate produced by Lindt, which is now characterized by a hard chocolate shell and a smooth chocolate filling.

It comes in both a ball and a bar variety, as well as in a variety of flavours.

Each flavour has its own wrapper colour.

Most of the US Lindor truffles are manufactured in Stratham, New Hampshire.

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Lindt sells at least 29 varieties of chocolate bars.

 

Lindt’s “Petits Desserts” range embodies famous European desserts in a small cube of chocolate.

Flavours include: Tarte au Chocolat, Crème Brulée, Tiramisu, Creme Caramel, Tarte Citron, Meringue, and Noir Orange.

 

Lindt makes a “Creation” range of chocolate-filled cubes: Milk Mousse, Dark Milk Mousse, White Milk Mousse, Chocolate Mousse, Orange Mousse, Pistachio and Cherry/Chili.

 

Bâtons Kirsch are Lindt Kirsch liqueur-filled, chocolate-enclosed tubes dusted in cocoa powder.

 

In Australia, Lindt manufactures ice cream in various flavours:

  • 70% Dark Chocolate
  • White Chocolate Framboise
  • Sable Cookies and Cream
  • Chocolate Chip Hazelnut
  • White Chocolate and Vanilla Bean

Image result for lindt ice cream australia

 

The curious visitor and chocolate lover can have a guided tour of the Lindt production facilities by contacting Zürich Tourism in the Zürich Main Station.

Tours take place from May to September, Monday to Saturday and last 40 minutes for individuals or groups up to 16 people.

(http://www.lindt-experience.ch)

The factory outlet shop outside the factory is open from Monday to Friday 1000 – 1900, and Saturday 1000 – 1700.

The shop is seductive, the chocolate sinful.

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In 2009, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was named as Lindt’s “global brand ambassador” and began appearing in a series of commercials endorsing Lindor.

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Roger Federer has huge popularity in the world of sport, to the point that he has been called a living legend in his own time.

Given his achievements, many players and analysts have considered Federer to be the greatest tennis player of all time.

No other male tennis player has won 20 major singles titles in the Open Era and he has been in 30 major finals, including 10 in a row.

He has held the world No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for longer than any other male player.

He was also ranked No. 1 at the age of 36.

Federer has won a record eight Wimbledon titles and a joint-record six Australian Open titles.

He also won five consecutive US Open titles, which is the best in the Open Era.

He has been voted by his peers to receive the tour Sportsmanship Award a record thirteen times and voted by tennis fans to receive the ATP Fans’ Favorite award for fifteen consecutive years.

Federer has been named the Swiss Sports Personality of the Year a record seven times.

He has been named the ATP Player of the Year and ITF World Champion five times and he has won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award a record five times, including four consecutive awards from 2005 to 2008.

He is also the only individual to have won the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award four times.

Federer helped to lead a revival in tennis known by many as the Golden Age.

This led to increased interest in the sport, which in turn led to higher revenues for many venues across tennis.

During this period rising revenues led to exploding prize money.

When Federer first won the Australian Open in 2004 he earned $985,000, compared to when he won in 2018 and the prize had increased to AUD 4 million.

Upon winning the 2009 French Open and completing the career Grand Slam, Federer became the first individual male tennis player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated since Andre Agassi in 1999.

He was also the first non-American player to appear on the cover of the magazine since Stefan Edberg in 1992.

Federer again made the cover of Sports Illustrated following his record breaking 8th Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam of 2017, becoming the first male tennis player to be featured on the cover since himself in 2009.

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Federer is one of the highest-earning athletes in the world.

He is listed at No. 1 on the ForbesWorld’s Highest Paid Athletes” list.

He is endorsed by Japanese clothing company Uniqlo and Swiss companies Nationale Suisse, Credit Suisse, Rolex, Lindt, Sunrise, and Jura Elektroapparate.

In 2010, his endorsement by Mercedes-Benz China was extended into a global partnership deal.

His other sponsors include Gillette, Wilson, Barilla, and Moët & Chandon.

Previously, he was an ambassador for Nike, NetJets, Emmi AG and Maurice Lacroix.

In 2003, he established the Roger Federer Foundation to help disadvantaged children and to promote their access to education and sports.

Since May 2004, citing his close ties with South Africa, including that this was where his mother had been raised, he began supporting the South Africa-Swiss charity IMBEWU, which helps children better connect to sports as well as social and health awareness.

Later, in 2005, Federer visited South Africa to meet the children that had benefited from his support.

Also in 2005, he auctioned his racquet from his US Open championship to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.

At the 2005 Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Federer arranged an exhibition involving several top players from the ATP and WTA tour called Rally for Relief.

The proceeds went to the victims of the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

In December 2006, he visited Tamil Nadu, one of the areas in India most affected by the tsunami.

 

He was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF in April 2006 and has appeared in UNICEF public messages to raise public awareness of AIDS.

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In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Federer arranged a collaboration with fellow top tennis players for a special charity event during the 2010 Australian Open called ‘Hit for Haiti‘, in which proceeds went to Haiti earthquake victims.

He participated in a follow-up charity exhibition during the 2010 Indian Wells Masters, which raised $1 million.

The Nadal vs. Federer “Match for Africa” in 2010 in Zürich and Madrid raised more than $4 million for the Roger Federer Foundation and Fundación Rafa Nadal.

In January 2011, Federer took part in an exhibition, Rally for Relief, to raise money for the victims of the Queensland floods.

In 2014, the “Match for Africa 2” between Federer and Stan Wawrinka, again in Zurich, raised £850,000 for education projects in Southern Africa.

 

On 24 November 2017, Federer received an honorary doctorate awarded to him by his home university, the University of Basel.

He received the title in recognition for his role in increasing the international reputation of Basel and Switzerland and also his engagement for children in Africa through his charitable foundation.

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But is he aware of the damage that Lindt’s demand for cocoa is doing to West Africa in regards to the destruction of both human lives and the environment?

Or, if he is aware, is he like many things Swiss – deceptive in appearance?

 

Flawil, Switzerland, 16 January 2018

As you pull into St. Gallen train station, you can’t miss the huge Chocolat Maestrani sign suspended above the tracks.

The local firm in nearby Flawil and the chocolate factory is within easy reach west of St. Gallen.

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The name Maestrani has stood for exquisite chocolate creations since 1852.

At Maestrani’s Chocolarium – the Chocolate Factory of Happiness – the history of chocolate is brought alive in a fascinating Experience World for young and old alike.

Whether independently or on a guided tour, guests can explore the interactive zone and discover where chocolate comes from and how it is produced.

They also have the chance to view chocolate being produced live.

What’s more, sampling is actively encouraged!

At the end of the tour, for a small surcharge, a show confiseur will mold a fresh bar of chocolate, which guests can decorate as they wish.

Besides a movie theater, a cafe and chocolate molding courses, during which guests can make their own chocolate creations, sweet-toothed visitors can purchase their favorite chocolate products from the factory shop.

He who sees the world through the eyes of a chocolate lover will find true beauty and happiness.” Aquilino Maestrani, founder and chocolate pioneer, (1814-1880)

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The Chocolarium at Toggenburgerstrasse 41, Flawil, is open Monday to Friday 0900 – 1800, Saturday 0900 – 1700, Sunday 1000 – 1700, the last tour is one hour before closing.

The tour includes a gallery above the factory floor to watch the production lines.

To get there, take a train to Flawil from St. Gallen (12 minutes) then switch to a bus for the five-minute ride to “Flawil Maestrani” bus stop.

(http://www.maestrani.ch)

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Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, 30 January 2019

It is a stunner, shingled with starfish-studded sands, palm tree forests and roads so orange they resemble strips of bronzing powder.

This is a true tropical paradise.

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Above: Azuretti Beach, Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire

 

In the south, the Parc National de Tai hides secrets, species and nut-cracking chimps under the tree boughs.

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Above: Parc National de Tai, Côte d’Ivoire

 

The peaks and valleys of Man offer a highland climate, fresh air and fantastic hiking opportunities through tropical forests.

Above: Dent de Man, Côte d’Ivoire

 

The beach resorts of Assinie and Grand Bassam are made for weekend retreats from Abidjan, capital in all but name, where lagoons wind their way between skyscrapers and cathedral spires pierce the heavens.

Collection of views of Abidjan, featuring St. Paul's Cathedral, the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium, the Republic square, the beach of Vridi and the CBD named Le Plateau.

Above: Images of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

 

Assinie and Dagbego have surf beaches.

In Yamoussoukro, the capital’s basilica floats on the landscape like a mirage.

Above: Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire

 

Sacred crocodiles guard the Presidential Palace.

Tourists gather as they are fed in the afternoon.

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Above: Lac aux Crocodiles, Presidential Palace, Yamoussoukro

 

This is a culture rich with festivals and some of the most stunning artwork in Africa.

This is what the tourist sees.

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The process of deforestation starts with settlers who invade parks and other forested areas.

They progressively cut down or burn existing trees.

Trunks are denuded of their crowns and are left as ghostly reminders of the great forests that once reigned.

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With the forests gone, the settlers plant cocoa trees, which take years before they are ready to harvest.

Each cocoa tree bears two harvests of cocoa pods per year.

Farmers hack off the ripe cocoa pods from the trees with machetes.

They split open the pods to remove the cocoa beans, which are sorted and placed into piles.

The beans are left in the sun to ferment and dry and turn brown.

 

It is at this point that a first level of middlemen called “pisteurs” buy the cocoa beans from the settlers, transport it to villages and towns across the cocoa-growing region and sell them onto another set of middlemen, known as cooperatives.

The cooperatives then either directly or through a third set of middlemen bring the cocoa to the coastal ports of San Pedro and Abidjan, where it is sold to cocoa traders Olam, Cargill and Barry Callebaut, who ship the cocoa companies in Europe and North America.

Illegal towns and villages called “campements” have sprung up inside Côte d’Ivoire’s national parks and protected forests.

Some campements boast tens of thousands of residents, along with public schools, official health centres, mosques, churches, stores and cell phone towers in plain sight of government authorities.

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There is an excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides that is killing the country’s biodiversity.

Deforestation and exposure to the fullness of the sun makes the environment suspectible to disease.

Over two million children are victims of the worst forms of child labour.

This is a land of child workers, slaves and low wages.

Low pay foments food insecurity and low school enrollment and attendance rates.

Inadequate prices paid for the coffee means farmers live under the poverty line.

Chemicals pollute the waterways, killing wildlife and harming communities.

This is a true tropical hell.

 

And what of the future?

 

Demand for chocolate continues to rise by 5% every year.

The chocolate industry has aggressively expanded to other rainforest nations around the world – Indonesia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Peru – exporting the same bad practices that are contributing to the destruction of West Africa’s forests and the creation of a living hell for its people.

Deforestation for cocoa has a significant impact on climate.

Tropical rainforests have among the highest carbon storage of any ecosystem on the planet.

When they are cleared, they release enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

A single dark chocolate bar made with cocoa from deforestation produces the same amount of carbon pollution as driving 4.9 miles in a car.

 

In Switzerland, life is rich and sweet.

In Côte d’Ivoire, life is poor and sour.

 

In Canada, a remembered jingle asks:

When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?

Do you suck them very slowly or crunch them very fast?

It’s candy and milk chocolate, so tell me when I ask:

When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?

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An important question for these dark and bitter times, eh?

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Facebook / The Rough Guide to Switzerland / Lonely Planet The World / Lonely Planet Africa on a Shoestring / Etelie Higonnet, Marisa Bellantonio and Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth, Chocolate’s Dark Secret: How the Cocoa Industry Destroys National Parks / http://www.dicconbewes.ch / http://www.lindt-experience.ch / http://www.maestrani.ch