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 Lemon Mutants

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Saturday 14 March 2020

From Brescia Today, Friday 6 March 2020

There are 268 cases of corona virus infections confirmed in Italy’s Brescia Province, while deaths there have risen to 18.

Fifteen new municipalities have been added to the epidemic network, which previously had not presented any infection: Acquafredda, Borgosatollo, Castenedolo, Darfo Boario Terme, Gambara, Gottolengo, Isorella, Ospitaletto, Paratico, Pompiano, Provaglio d’Iseo, Roncadelle, San Gervasio Bresciano and Seniga.

 

Map highlighting the location of the province of Brescia in Italy

Above: Province of Brescia (in red), Italy

 

As of 13 March, over 145,000 cases have been confirmed in around 140 countries and territories, with major outbreaks in mainland China, Italy, South Korea and Iran.

More than 5,400 people have died from the disease and over 72,000 have recovered.

 

2019-nCoV-CDC-23312 without background.png

Above: Electron microscope view of the corona virus

 

The virus primarily spreads between people in a way similar to influenza, via respiratory droplets from coughing.

The time between exposure and symptom onset is typically five days, but may range from two to fourteen days.

Symptoms are most often fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.

Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment, but research is ongoing.

Efforts are aimed at managing symptoms and supportive therapy.

Recommended preventive measures include handwashing, maintaining distance from other people (particularly those who are unwell), and monitoring and self-isolation for fourteen days for people who suspect they are infected.

Public health responses around the world have included travel restrictions, quarantines, curfews, event cancellations, and facility closures.

 

March14 cases per-capita-COVID-19.png

Above: Map of the COVID-19 outbreak as of 12 March 2020.

Be aware that since this is a rapidly evolving situation, new cases may not be immediately represented visually. 

The darker the country, the more cases of the corona virus there are therein.

Countries with cases of the corona virus:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria 
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus 
  • Belgium 
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil 
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cambodia 
  • Canada
  • Chile 
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia 
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic 
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt 
  • Estonia 
  • Finland 
  • France 
  • Georgia
  • Germany 
  • Greece 
  • Hungary
  • Iceland 
  • India 
  • Indonesia 
  • Iran 
  • Iraq 
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy 
  • Japan 
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia 
  • Lebanon
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg   
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mexico 
  • Moldova
  • Monaco 
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal 
  • the Netherlands 
  • New Zealand 
  • Nigeria 
  • North Macedonia 
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • the Philippines 
  • Poland
  • Portugal 
  • Qatar
  • Romania 
  • Russia 
  • San Marino 
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Singapore 
  • Slovakia 
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa 
  • South Korea 
  • Spain 
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden 
  • Switzerland 
  • Taiwan 
  • Thailand 
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey 
  • Ukraine 
  • the United Arab Emirates 
  • the United Kingdom 
  • the United States 
  • Vietnam 

 

These include the nationwide quarantine of Italy.

 

File:COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in Italy.svg

Above: (in red) Corona virus outbreak cases in Italy

 

On 9 March 2020, the government of Italy under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed a national quarantine, restricting the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances, in response to the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

 

Giuseppe Conte Official.jpg

Above: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte

 

Additional lockdown restrictions mandated the temporary closure of non-essential shops and businesses.

 

GP: Coronavirus: Venice Italy

 

This followed an earlier restriction announced on the previous day which affected 16 million people and included the region of Lombardy and fourteen provinces in Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Piedmont and Marche, and further back a smaller-scale lockdown of 11 municipalities in the province of Lodi that had begun in late February.

 

GP: Coronavirus Rome Italy

 

The first lockdowns began around 21 February 2020, covering 11 municipalities of the province of Lodi and affecting around 50,000 people.

 

Piazza della Vittoria

 

Above: Piazza Duomo, Lodi

 

The epicentre was the town of Codogno (pop. 16,000), with police cars blocking roads leading to the quarantined areas and barriers erected on the roads.

The old Soave Hospital in Codogno.

Above: Ospedale Soave, Codogno

 

The quarantined “red zone” (zona rossa) was initially enforced by police and carabinieri, and by 27 February it was reported that 400 policemen were enforcing it with 35 checkpoints.

The lockdown was initially meant to last until 6 March.

While residents were permitted to leave their homes and supplies such as food and medicine were allowed to enter, they were not to go to school or their workplaces, and public gatherings were prohibited.

Train services also bypassed the region.

 

Newspapers during 2020 Italy lockdown.jpg

Above: The front page of Italian newspaper La Repubblica, reading “Tutti in casa” (“Everybody stay at home“), hung in a Bologna street on 10 March 2020, the first day of the nationwide lockdown in Italy

 

Early on Sunday, 8 March 2020, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the expansion of the quarantine zone to cover much of Northern Italy, affecting over 16 million people, restricting travel from, to or within the affected areas, banning funerals and cultural events, and requiring people to keep at least one metre of distance from one another in public locations such as restaurants, churches and supermarkets.

Conte later clarified in a press conference that the decree was not an “absolute ban“, and that people would still be able to use trains and planes to and from the region for “proven work needs, emergencies, or health reasons“.

Additionally, tourists from outside were still permitted to leave the area.

 

Above: Areas quarantined on 8 March 2020

 

Restaurants and cafes were permitted to open, but operations were limited to between 06:00 and 18:00, while many other public locations such as gyms, nightclubs, museums and swimming pools were closed altogether.

Businesses were ordered to implement “smart working processes” to permit their employees to work from home.

 

GP: Coronavirus Rome Italy shutdown Precautions against coronavirus in Italy

 

The decree, in effect until 3 April, additionally cancelled any leave for medical workers, and allowed the government to impose fines or up to three months’ jail for people caught leaving or entering the affected zone without permission.

The decree also implemented restrictions on public gatherings elsewhere across Italy.

With this decree, the initial “Red Zone” was also abolished (though the municipalities were still within the quarantined area).

The lockdown measures implemented by Italy was considered the most radical measure implemented against the outbreak, outside of the lockdown measures implemented in China.

At the time of the decree, over 5,800 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Italy, with 233 dead.

 

GP: Coronavirus: Italy Venice Plague Doctors Procession

 

A draft of the decree had been leaked to the media late on Saturday night before it went into effect and was published by Corriere della Sera, resulting in panic within the to-be-quarantined areas and prompting reactions from politicians in the region.

 

Corriere della Sera.svg

 

La Repubblica reported that hundreds of people in Milan rushed out to leave the city on the last trains on Saturday night, as a part of a rush in general to leave the red zone.

 

La Repubblica.svg

 

However, within hours of the decree being signed, media outlets reported that relatively little had changed, with trains and planes still operating to and from the region, and restaurants and cafes operating normally.

The BBC reported that some flights to Milan continued on 8 March, though several were cancelled.

New guidelines for the corona virus had assigned the responsibility of deciding whether to suspend flights to local judiciaries.

 

GP: Italy's Tourism Sector Predicted To Lose Billions From COVID-19 Impact 201003 EU

 

On the evening of 9 March, the quarantine measures were expanded to the entire country, coming into effect the next day.

In a televised address, Conte explained that the moves would restrict travel to that necessary for work and family emergencies, and all sporting events would be cancelled.

Italy was the first country to implement a national quarantine as a result of the 2020 coronavirus outbreak.

 

Flag of Italy

Above: Flag of Italy

 

On 11 March, Conte announced the lockdown would be tightened, with all commercial and retail businesses, except those providing essential services, like grocery stores and pharmacies, closed down.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio has said that the lockdown has been necessary for Italy.

 

Luigi Di Maio 2019.jpg

Above: Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Malo

 

The Italian authorities established sanctions for those who do not obey the orders, even those who, having symptoms of the virus, expose themselves in public places, being considered a threat of intentional contagion.

 

GP: Coronavirus Rome Piazza Navona ITALY-HEALTH-VIRUS

 

Responding to the thousands of people who evacuated from Lombardy just before the 8 March quarantine was put in place, police officers and medics met passengers from Lombardy in Salerno, Campania, and the passengers were required to self-quarantine.

 

GS - Italy Faces The Coronavirus

 

Michele Emiliano, President of Apulia, required all arrivals from northern Italy to self-quarantine.

 

Michele Emiliano crop.jpg

Above: Michele Emiliano

 

Similarly, Jole Santelli, President of Calabria, called for Calabrians living in northern Italy not to return home during the outbreak, and for the government to “block an exodus to Calabria“.

 

Jole Santelli daticamera 2018.jpg

Above: Jole Santelli

 

Conte, alongside other leaders, called for Italians not to engage in “furbizia“—i.e. craftiness to circumvent rules and bureaucracy—when it comes to the lockdown.

Conte also told la Repubblica that Italy was facing its “darkest hour“.

In the initial quarantine, a special radio station (Radio Zona Rossa, or “Radio Red Zone“) was set up for residents of the Codogno quarantine area, broadcasting updates on the quarantine situation, interviews with authorities, and government information.

 

Pino Pagani, left, says elderly listeners who feel even more alone under the quarantine find the radio station comforting [Michele Lori/Al Jazeera]

 

Catholic sermons were also broadcast through the radio.

 

Following the quarantine’s expansion, the hashtag #IoRestoACasa (“I stay at home“) was shared by thousands of social media users.

 

 

In compliance with regulations on keeping one metre of distance between each other in public locations, bars and restaurants placed duct tape on floors for their customers to follow.

Rushes to supermarkets in cities such as Roma and Palermo were reported as residents engaged in panic buying following the nationwide quarantine announcement.

 

Toilet paper, canned food: What explains coronavirus panic buying

 

After the national lockdown was announced, the Vatican closed the Vatican Museums and suspended Mass liturgies.

While St. Peter’s Basilica remained open, its catacombs were closed and visitors were required to follow the Italian regulations on the one-metre separation.

Catholic Mass in Rome and the Vatican were also suspended until 3 April, and Pope Francis opted to instead live stream daily Mass.

 

GP: Coronavirus: Italy Vatican

 

Dismayed by the Vicar General’s complete closure of all churches in the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis partially reversed the closures, but tourists are still barred from visiting the churches.

 

Pope Francis Korea Haemi Castle 19.jpg

Above: Pope Francis

 

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom, praised Italy’s decision to implement the lockdown, stating that the Italian people and government were “making genuine sacrifices” with these “bold, courageous steps“.

 

Adhanom smiling in a suit

Above: WHO Director General Tedros Adhamon

 

Among Brescian municipalities, Limone sul Garda is not listed among those with corona virus cases.

For now.

Though the virus is on Limone’s doorstep – in Gardone Riviera, Lonata del Garda and Moniga del Garda – one case in each town – it has yet to make its dark appearance felt within Limone itself.

Perhaps, miraculously, Covina-19 will avoid Limone, for Limone is a place of miracles….

 

Image result for lake garda map images

 

Limone sul Garda, Italy, Tuesday 6 August 2018

Imagine a place where majestic mountains act as a backdrop for the infinite blue of Lake Garda.

Forget the impatience of the world for a moment and serenely choose a moment of tranquillity, to share with your loved ones.

The blue has never been as beautiful as it is now, in this natural backdrop of colours, tastes and perfumes.

 

Limone sul Garda

 

Olives, lemons, oleanders, palms and bougainvilleas flourish in an enchanting inlet, where the mountains suddenly open up, mirrored in the intense blue of the water, like in a dream.

Limone, once a small fishing village, is today one of the most highly appreciated tourist centres, with a splendid lakeside promenade and camping grounds, hotels and modern residences, equipped with every comfort.

It has well-equipped beaches, street swarming with shops, bars and restaurants for every taste.

Limone, the home of tranquillity and courtesy, is the ideal place for a vacation on the Lake, year round.

 

Limone sul Garda – Veduta

 

The vestiges of the past are splendidly blended into the backdrop, conferring even greater harmony.

Thus, we can see the pillars of the ancient lemon houses rising from the shores exposed to the sun, which sweetly slope down towards the Lake.

In the surrounding area, the silvery foliage of centuries old olive trees ripple in the wind.

The old part of the village, set between the earth and water, opens up to reveal an infinite number of characteristic, peaceful corners.

The deep ties with the territory are still alive in the daily life that marches on: simplicity, hospitality and untiring work are the peculiarities of Limone entrepreneurs who make every effort, every day, to ensure that guests feel at home.

Nature alone generously offers considerable opportunities to enjoy leisure time, even for the less sporty: the Lake and its beaches, the itineraries that wind their way up to the ancient citrus fruit gardens, in the shade of the houses, the trails that branch out around the village, climbing up to the summits of the mountains that surround the village, providing uniquely beautiful views – an ideal habitat for mountain lovers and experts.

The multifunctional sports centre, the sports complex and the many tennis courts complete the array of proposals capable of meeting the requirements of both professional and amateur sportsmen.

 

Image result for limone sul garda images

 

Despite the presence of famous cultivations of lemons (the meaning of the city’s name in Italian), the town’s name is probably derived from the ancient lemos (elm) or limes (Latin: boundary, referring to the communes of Brescia and the Bishopric of Trento).

From 1863 to 1905 the denomination was Limone San Giovanni.

 

Image result for limone sul garda images

 

The first settlements found in the surrounding area of Benaco (the ancient name of the Lake) date back to the Neolithic period.

In fact, in the nearby Valley of Ledro you can visit a museum dedicated to the pile work houses from the Bronze Age found in that area.

 

Image result for valley of ledro museum images

 

In 600 BC, the Celtic tribes that inhabited the area were conquered by the Romans.

After this, the Lake’s historical development follows that of the rest of northern Italy: from the Longobards, to the arrival of Charlemagne, the Venetian Republic, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Italian Renaissance, the World Wars, up to the birth of the present Italian Republic.

 

Benacus creino.jpg

 

However, the most important period of the social, economic and cultural development of Limone was the domination of the Venetian Republic or “Serenissima” (the Splendid) as it was called during the first half of the 15th century.

Due to the administration of the Serenissima, Limone developed from a typical rural village based on fishing and the growing of olives to the most northerly centre for the cultivation of citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges and citrons.

 

Flag of Venice

Above: Flag of the Republic of Venice

 

They built the world famous lemon groves called Limonaia with high walls to protect the trees from the cold northeastern winds.

The huge columns in these groves were used to support wooden rafters which during winter covered the grove transforming it into a greenhouse.

 

Image result for Limonaia images

 

However, things were not as easy as they may have seemed.

Soil had to be imported for the lemon trees from the southern part of the Lake, because the original soil was very poor as it consisted only of gravel.

The water supply for the lemon groves was a masterpiece of an irrigation system.

 

P1030323.JPG

 

At the beginning of September 1786, when the famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had just turned 37, he “slipped away“, in his words, from his duties as Privy Councillor in the Duchy of Weimar, from a long platonic affair with a court lady, and from his immense fame as the author of the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther and the stormy play Götz von Berlichingen, and took what became a licensed leave of absence.

By May 1788, he had travelled to Italy via Innsbruck and the Brenner Pass and visited Lake Garda, Verona, Vicenza, Venezia, Bologna, Roma, the Alban Hills, Napoli and Sicily.

He wrote many letters to a number of friends in Germany, which he later used as the basis for Italian Journey.

 

Goethe in 1828, by Joseph Karl Stieler

Above: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)

 

Italian Journey initially takes the form of a diary, with events and descriptions written up apparently quite soon after they were experienced.

The impression is in one sense true, since Goethe was clearly working from journals and letters he composed at the time — and by the end of the book he is openly distinguishing between his old correspondence and what he calls reporting.

But there is also a strong and indeed elegant sense of fiction about the whole, a sort of composed immediacy.

Goethe said in a letter that the work was “both entirely truthful and a graceful fairy tale“.

It had to be something of a fairy tale, since it was written between 30 and more than 40 years after the journey, from 1816 to 1828-29.

 

Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein - Goethe in the Roman Campagna - Google Art Project.jpg

Above: Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein’s Goethe in the Roman Campagna

 

The work begins with a famous Latin tag, Et in Arcadia ego.

This Latin phrase is usually imagined as spoken by Death — this is its sense, for example, in W. H. Auden’s poem called “Et in Arcadia ego” — suggesting that every paradise is afflicted by mortality.

 

AudenVanVechten1939.jpg

Above: Wystan Hugh Auden (1907 – 1973)

 

What Goethe says is “Even I managed to get to Paradise“, with the implication that we could all get there if we chose.

If death is universal, the possibility of paradise might be universal too.

This possibility wouldn’t preclude its loss, and might even require it, or at least require that some of us should lose it.

The book ends with a quotation from Ovid’s Tristia, regretting his expulsion from Rome.

Statue (1887) by Ettore Ferrari commemorating Ovid's exile in Tomis (present-day Constanța, Romania)

Above: Statue of Publius Ovidius Naso (aka Ovid) (43 BC – AD 18) commemorating his exile in Tomis (present-day Constanța, Romania)

 

Cum repeto noctem, Goethe writes in the middle of his own German, as well as citing a whole passage:

When I remember the night…

He is already storing up not only plentiful nostalgia and regret, but also a more complicated treasure:

The certainty that he didn’t merely imagine the land where others live happily ever after.

 

 

We are all pilgrims who seek Italy“, Goethe wrote in a poem two years after his return to Germany from his almost two-year spell in the land he had long dreamed of.

For Goethe, Italy was the warm passionate south as opposed to the dank cautious North.

The place where the classical past was still alive, although in ruins.

A sequence of landscapes, colours, trees, manners, cities, monuments he had so far seen only in his writing.

He described himself as “the mortal enemy of mere words” or what he also called “empty names“.

He needed to fill the names with meaning and, as he rather strangely put it, “to discover myself in the objects I see“, literally “to learn to know myself by or through the objects“.

He also writes of his old habit of “clinging to the objects“, which pays off in the new location.

He wanted to know that what he thought might be Paradise actually existed, even if it wasn’t entirely Paradise, and even if he didn’t in the end want to stay there.

Some journeys – Goethe’s was one – really are quests.

Italian Journey is not only a description of places, persons and things, but also a psychological document of the first importance.

— W. H. Auden, Epigraph on Italian Journey
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On 13 September 1786, Goethe passed by the village of Limone by boat and described with this words its lemon gardens:

The morning was magnificent: a bit cloudy, but calm as the sun rose.

We passed Limone, the mountain-gardens of which, laid out terrace-fashion, and planted with citron-trees, have a neat and rich appearance.

The whole garden consists of rows of square white pillars placed at some distance from each other, and rising up the mountain in steps.

On these pillars strong beams are laid, that the trees planted between them may be sheltered in the winter.

The view of these pleasant objects was favored by a slow passage, and we had already passed Malcesine when the wind suddenly changed, took the direction usual in the day-time, and blew towards the north.

(Italian Journey, Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

 

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Apart from the cultivation of citrus fruits in the 19th century during the reign of the Habsburg family, Limone also offered other products such as magnesium, paper, quicklime and silkworms due to the mild climate.

Unfortunately, during World War I all these prosperous businesses came to a sudden end because of the geopolitical and strategic location of Limone.

The whole area, which was situated on the immediate border with Austria and which was in the active combat zone between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Italian Reign was completely evacuated.

When people returned to their homes after the war there was nothing left from the former activities and they had to start again by fishing and growing olives.

Throughout this whole period the only way to reach Limone was by water or through difficult mountain paths.

Until the 1940s the city was reachable only by lake or through the mountains, with the road to Riva del Garda being built only 1932, but today Limone is one of the most renowned tourist resorts in the area.

 

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Limone’s hotel tradition has developed simultaneously with realization of the most important traffic artery of the Lake: the Gardesana Road.

Activities related to fishing and agriculture were gradually abandoned over the years, while increasing numbers of accommodation and commercial facilities have been created.

In the Seventies, many camping grounds grounds were transformed into hotels in order to meet the changing demands of the market and allowing entrepreneurs to extend the tourist season.

The expansion of the tourist season continued in the Eighties as well, as the village developed an accommodation capacity very similiar to the present day situation.

Over the last decade, collective efforts have privileged development of the quality of the offer:

This has led to important public and private works to requalify many areas, making Limone one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the European market.

 

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In order to document the socio-economic changes in Limone after the opening of the Gardesana Road the local council established a Museum of Tourism.

It was set up in the former local council building and inaugurated in 2011.

Inside the exhibition spaces display posters, calendars, holiday guides, souvenirs, etc.

 

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A large area has also been dedicated to Limone’s citizen St. Daniele Comboni and the discovery of apoli protein A1, a good gene that helps to minimize the hardening of arteries and reduce heart disease.

 

Daniele Comboni, the founder of the Institutes for Comboni Missionaries, was born in Limone.

In the neighbourhood quarter Tesöl, Comboni’s life and work can be understood at the Tesöl Centre of the Comboni Missionaries.

Comboni (1831 – 1881) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop who served in the missions in Africa and was the founder of both the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and the Comboni Missionary Sisters.

 

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Comboni was born on 15 March 1831 at Limone sul Garda in Brescia to the poor gardeners (working for a local proprietor) Luigi Comboni and Domenica Pace as the fourth of eight children.

He was the sole child to survive into adulthood.

At that time Limone was under the jurisdiction of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

 

Austria-Hungary on the eve of World War I

Above: Austrian-Hungarian Empire before World War I

 

At the age of twelve, he was sent to school in Verona on 20 February 1843 at the Religious Institute of Verona, founded by Nicola Mazza.

It was there that he completed his studies in medicine and languages (he learnt French, English and Arabic) and prepared to become a priest.

 

A collage of Verona, clockwise from top left to right: View of Piazza Bra from Verona Arena, House of Juliet, Verona Arena, Ponte Pietra at sunset, Statue of Madonna Verona's fountain in Piazza Erbe, view of Piazza Erbe from Lamberti Tower

Above: Images of Verona

 

On 6 January 1849 he vowed that he would join the African missions, a desire he had held since 1846 after reading about the Japanese martyrs.

 

(The Martyrs of Japan were Christian missionaries and followers who were persecuted and executed, mostly during the Tokugawa shogunate period in the 17th century.

More than 400 martyrs of Japan have been recognized with beatification by the Catholic Church, and 42 have been canonized as saints.

Martyrs of Japan can be seen within the context of Christian colonialism and Christianization.)

 

Above: The 26 Martyrs of Japan at Nagasaki. (1628 engraving)

 

On 31 December 1854 in Trento he received his ordination to the priesthood from the Bishop of Trent Johann Nepomuk von Tschiderer zu Gleifheim.

 

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Above: Bishop of Trent Johann Nepomuk von Tschiderer zu Gleifheim (1777- 1860)

 

Comboni made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 29 September to 14 October 1855.

 

(The Holy Land (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ הַקּוֹדֶשׁ Eretz HaKodesh, Latin: Terra Sancta; Arabic: الأرض المقدسة Al-Arḍ Al-Muqaddasah or الديار المقدسة Ad-Diyar Al-Muqaddasah) is an area roughly located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that also includes the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River.

Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine.

The term “Holy Land” usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel, the Palestinian territories, western Jordan, and parts of southern Lebanon and of southwestern Syria.

Jews, Christians and Muslims all regard it as holy.

Part of the significance of the land stems from the religious significance of Jerusalem (the holiest city to Judaism), as the historical region of Jesus’ ministry, and as the site of the Isra and Mi’raj event of 621 in Islam.

The holiness of the land as a destination of Christian pilgrimage contributed to launching the Crusades, as European Christians sought to win back the Holy Land from the Muslims, who had conquered it from the Christian Eastern Roman Empire in the 630s.

In the 19th century, the Holy Land became the subject of diplomatic wrangling as the Holy Places played a role in the Eastern Question which led to the Crimean War in the 1850s.

Many sites in the Holy Land have long been pilgrimage destinations for adherents of the Abrahamic religions, including Jews, Christians, Muslims and Bahá’ís.

Pilgrims visit the Holy Land to touch and see physical manifestations of their faith, to confirm their beliefs in the holy context with collective excitation, and to connect personally to the Holy Land.)

 

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Above: The map of the Holy Land by Marino Sanudo (drawn in 1320)

Map orientation: north pointing left.

 

In 1857 – with the blessing of his mother – Comboni left for Africa along with five other missionaries, also former students of Mazza.

His mother gave him her blessing and said to him:

Go, Daniele, and may the Lord bless you“.

 

Comboni departed on 8 September 1857 with Giovanni Beltrame, Alessandro dal Bosco, Francesco Oliboni, Angelo Melotto and Isidoro Zilli who hailed from Udine.

 

Piazza San Giacomo

Above: Piazza San Giacomo, Udine

 

Four months later, on 8 January 1858, Comboni reached Khartoum in Sudan.

His assignment was the liberation of enslaved boys and girls.

There were difficulties including an unbearable climate and sickness as well as the deaths of several of his fellow missionaries.

This, added with the poor and derelict conditions that the population faced, made the situation all the more difficult.

 

Khartoum downtown

Above: Modern Khartoum

 

Comboni had written to his parents of the conditions and the difficulties that the group faced but remained resolved.

He witnessed the death of one of his companions and instead of deterring him he remained determined to continue and wrote:

O Nigrizia o morte!” (translation: “Either Africa or death“)

 

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By the end of 1859 three of the five had died and two were in Cairo as Comboni himself grew ill.

 

Above: Modern Cairo

 

Comboni was in his new surroundings from 1858 until 15 January 1859 when he was forced to return to Verona due to a bout of malaria.

He taught at Mazza’s institute from 1861 until 1864.

He soon worked out fresh strategies for the missions while back in his native land in 1864.

 

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Above: Portrait of Nicola Mazza (1790 – 1865)

 

He visited St Peter’s Tomb in Rome on 15 September 1864 and it was while reflecting before the Tomb that he came upon the idea of a “Plan for the Rebirth of Africa” which was a project with the slogan “Save Africa through Africa“.

 

Above: St. Peter’s Tomb

 

Four days later, on 19 September, he met with Pope Pius IX to discuss his project.

 

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Above: Pope Pius IX (1792 – 1878)

 

Comboni wanted the European continent and the Universal Church to be more concerned with the African continent.

He carried out appeals throughout Europe from December 1864 to June 1865 for spiritual and material aid for the African missions from people including monarchical families as well as bishops and nobles.

Travelling under an Austrian consular visa, he went to France and Spain before heading north to England and then setting off to Germany and Austria.

The humanitarian “Society of Cologne” became a main supporter of his work.

It was around this time that he launched a magazine – the first in his homeland to delve into the missions for it was designed to be an exclusive magazine for those in the missions.

 

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Above: Cologne Cathedral (Köln Dom)

 

He established a male institute on 1 June 1867 and one for women in 1872 both in Verona: the Istituto delle Missioni per la Nigrizia (since 1894 the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus) and the Istituto delle Pie Madri (later the Comboni Missionary Sisters) on 1 January 1872.

On 7 May 1867, he had an audience with Pope Pius IX and brought with him twelve African girls to meet the Pope.

In late 1867 Comboni opened two branches of the order in Cairo.

 

Comboni was the first to bring women into this form of work in Africa and he founded new missions in El Obeid and Delen amongst other Sudanese cities.

Comboni was well-versed in the Arabic language and also spoke in several African dialects (Dinka, Bari and Nubia) as well as six European languages.

 

Camels in El-Obeid (early 1960s)

 

On 2 April 1868, he was decorated with the Order of the Knight of Italy but he refused this in fidelity to Pius IX.

On 7 July 1968, he left for France where he visited the shrine of La Salette on 26 July before heading to Germany and Austria.

 

Above: La Salette

 

On 20 February 1869 he left Marseilles for Cairo where he opened a third house on 15 March.

 

Among Comboni’s early companions during his early years in Africa was Catarina Zenab, a Dinka who would go on to serve as a missionary in Khartoum later in her life.

 

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Above: Catarina Zenab (1848–1921)

 

On 9 March 1870, he left Cairo for Rome and arrived there on 15 March, where he took part in the First Vatican Council as the theologian of the Bishop of Verona Luigi di Canossa.

He formulated the “Postulatum pro Nigris Africæ Centralis” on 24 June which was a petition for the evangelization of Africa.

This received the signature of 70 bishops.

The First Vatican Council was terminated due to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and the dissolution of the Papal States before the document could be discussed.

 

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Above: First Vatican Council (1869 – 1870)

 

In mid-1877 he was named as the Vicar Apostolic of Central Africa and received his episcopal consecration as a bishop on 12 August 1877 from Cardinal Alessandro Franchi (1819 – 1878).

 

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Comboni’s episcopal appointment was seen as a confirmation that his ideas and his activities – which some deemed to be foolish – were recognised as an effective means for the proclamation of the Gospel.

 

Above: St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Khartoum

 

In 1877, and again in 1878, there was a drought in the region of the mission while mass starvation ensued soon after.

The local population was halved and the religious personnel and their activities reduced almost to nothing.

 

 

On 27 November 1880, Comboni traveled to the missions in Sudan from Napoli (Naples) for the eighth and final time to act against the slave trade and, though ill, he managed to arrive in Khartoum on 9 August in summer and made a trip to the Nubia mountains.

 

Top: Panorama view of Mergellina Port, Mergellina, Chiaia area, over view of Mount Vesuvius, Second left: Naples Directional Center (Centro Direzionale di Napoli) and Spaccanapoli Street, Second right: Via Toledo Street, Third left: Naples Media Center, Third right: Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino), Bottom: View of Centro direzionale di Napoli, from Naples Railroad Station

Above: Images of Napoli

 

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Above: The Nuba Mountains

 

On 10 October 1881, he died in Khartoum during the cholera epidemic at 10:00 pm in the evening.

He had suffered a high fever since 5 October.

His final words were reported to be:

I am dying, but my work will not die.

 

Pope Leo XIII mourned the loss of the bishop as a “great loss“.

 

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Above: Pope Leo XIII (1810 – 1903)

 

Bishop Antonio Maria Roveggio (1850–1902) served as the order’s superior sometime after Comboni died.

 

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Above: Bishop Antonio Maria Roveggio

 

The male order received the papal decree of praise on 7 June 1895 and full papal approval from Pope Pius X on 19 February 1910.

 

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Above: Pope Pius X (1835 – 1914)

 

As of 2018, the men’s order operates in about 28 countries, including Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines.

The female order received the decree of praise on 22 February 1897 and papal approval on 10 June 1912, while in 2008 there were 1,529 religious in 192 houses.

That order operates in Europe – in countries such as the United Kingdom, in Africa – in nations such as Cameroon and Mozambique, in the Americas – in countries such as Costa Rica and Ecuador, and in Asia – in countries such as Israel and Jordan.

 

Above: Countries where the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus are active.

 

Above: St. Daniel Comboni Kindergarten in Eritrea

 

On 26 March 1994 the confirmation of Comboni’s life of heroic virtue enabled Pope John Paul II to title him as Venerable.

 

John Paul II in 1985

Above: Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005)

 

The miracle required for Comboni to be beatified was investigated on a diocesan level in São Mateus from 10 December 1990 until 29 June 1992 before it received validation on 30 April 1993.

The miracle was the 25 December 1970 healing of the Afro-Brazilian child Maria Giuseppa Oliveira Paixão who underwent a stomach surgical procedure for an infection that grew worse over time.

But their attention turned to Comboni’s intercession and she was healed the next morning in a case that surprised the doctor.

The seven medical experts approved that science could not explain this cure on 9 June 1994, while six theologians agreed likewise on 22 November 1994, as did the C.C.S. members on 24 January 1995.

 

View of São Mateus

Above: Sao Mateus, Brazil

 

Pope John Paul II confirmed on 6 April 1995 that this healing was indeed a miracle and beatified Comboni in Saint Peter’s Basilica on 17 March 1996.

John Paul II confirmed this miracle on 20 December 2002 and scheduled the date for Comboni’s canonization in a papal consistory held on 20 February 2003.

The pope canonized Comboni in Saint Peter’s Square on 5 October 2003.

 

Above: St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City

 

The miracle in question was the healing of the Muslim mother Lubana Abdel Aziz (b. 1965) who – on 11 November 1997 – was admitted into a Khartoum hospital for a caesarean section.

The hospital was one that the Comboni Missionary Sisters managed.

The infant was born but the mother suffered from repeated bleeding and other serious problems and was on the point of death despite a blood transfusion.

The doctors were pessimistic about her chances but the nuns began a novena to Comboni.

The woman healed, despite the odds, on 13 November and was discharged from the hospital on 18 November.

 

Above: Panorama of Khartoum

 

At the Tesöl Centre in Limone, you can visit Comboni’s birth house, the Chapel (which was later built under the birth house) and the small but interesting Museum of Curiosities.

If you want to deepen your knowledge of Comboni, there is the possibility of visiting the multimedia exhibition and a thematic exhibition.

Or you can simply relax in the special and calm atmosphere present in the park that surrounds the Centre with a marvelous view over Limone and Lake Garda.

 

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Above: Centro Comboniano Il Tesöl

 

In 1979, researchers discovered that people in Limone possess a mutant form of apolipo protein (called Apo A-1 Milano) in their blood, that induced a healthy form of high-density cholesterol, which resulted in a lowered risk of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.

The protein appears to have given residents of the village extreme longevity – a dozen of those living here are over the age of 100 (for c. 1,000 total inhabitants).

The origin of the mutation has been traced back to a couple who lived in Limone in the 17th century.

Research has been ongoing to develop pharmaceutical treatments against heart disease based on mimicking the beneficial effects of the Apolipo A-1 mutation.

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Above: Cartoon representation of the molecular structure of protein registered with 1nfn Code.

 

Apolipo proteins are proteins that bind lipids (oil-soluble substances, such as fat and cholesterol) to form lipoproteins.

They transport lipids (and fat soluble vitamins) in blood, cerebrospinal fluid and lymph.

The lipid components of lipoproteins are insoluble in water.

However, because of their detergent-like (amphipathic) properties, apolipo proteins and other amphipathic molecules (such as phospholipids) can surround the lipids, creating a lipoprotein particle that is itself water-soluble, and can thus be carried through water-based circulation (i.e., blood, lymph).

In addition to stabilizing lipoprotein structure and solubilizing the lipid component, apolipo proteins interact with lipoprotein receptors and lipid transport proteins, thereby participating in lipoprotein uptake and clearance.

They also serve as enzyme cofactors for specific enzymes involved in the metabolism of lipoproteins.

Apolipo proteins are also exploited by hepatitis C virus (HCV) to enable virus entry, assembly, and transmission.

They play a role in viral pathogenesis and viral evasion from neutralizing antibodies.

 

Apolipo protein A-1 Milano (also ETC-216 or MDCO-216) is a naturally occurring mutated variant of the apolipo protein A1 found in human HDL, the lipoprotein particle that carries cholesterol from tissues to the liver and is associated with protection against cardiovascular disease.

Apo A1 Milano was first identified by Dr. Cesare Sirtori in Milano (Milan), who also demonstrated that its presence significantly reduced cardiovascular disease, even though it caused a reduction in HDL levels and an increase in triglyceride levels.

 

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Above: Logo of the University of Milano

 

The Apo A-1 Milano mutation was found by University of Milan researchers after their 1974 investigation of a low HDL / high triglyceride phenotype exhibited by Valerio Dagnoli of Limone.

Limone had only 1,000 inhabitants at the time and when blood tests were run on the entire population of the village, the mutation was found to be present in about 3.5% of the local population.

The mutation was traced to one man, Giovanni Pomarelli, who was born in the village in 1780 and passed it on to his offspring.

 

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Above: Cartoon representation of Apo A-1

 

In the 1990s, researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed that injection of a synthetic version of the mutant Apo A-1 into rabbits and mice could reverse vascular plaque buildup.

 

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Above: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles

 

Apo A-I Milano has been shown to reduce atherosclerosis in animal models and in a small phase 2 human trial.

Recombinant adeno-associated virus 8 (AAV8) mediated Apo A-I Milano gene therapy in combination with low-cholesterol diet induces rapid and significant regression of atherosclerosis in mice.

 

The first examination of using the mutant Apo A-1 in humans was conducted through a three way collaboration between the University of Milan and the companies Pharmacia and Upjohn in 1996, focusing on treatment of atherosclerosis.

 

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The Apo A-1 Milano Trial, published in JAMA in 2003, was the first published placebo-controlled, two-dose level trial in humans.

This was a secondary prevention trial in that those included were individuals who presented to a participating hospital with unstable angina and agreed to consent to a rigorous trial, well beyond usual clinical practice testing and treatment, testing whether this HDL protein variant, which was so effective in animals, would also work in humans.

This trial was initiated by Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic after prompting by Roger Newton of Esperion to examine the effects of the mutant protein using intravascular ultrasound imaging.

 

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Esperion provided the protein, code named ETC-216, for the duration of the trial.

 

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Due to its potential efficacy, it was speculated that development of synthetic ApoA-1 Milano might be a key factor in eradicating coronary heart disease.

Esperion Therapeutics, a high tech venture capital start-up, demonstrated efficacy in both animals and humans, spending many millions of dollars over several years to conduct a single human trial which showed impressive and rapid efficacy by IVUS of coronary arteries.

However, over the course of the project they produced only enough Apo A-1 Milano to partially treat 30 out of the 45 people in the randomized trial, giving them one weekly dose each for five weeks.

The results of the trial were published in JAMA (5 November 2003).

 

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Hoping to develop a more effective treatment than their current product Lipitor, Pfizer purchased and internalized Esperion shortly before JAMA published the results of the Apo A-1 Milano trial.

Currently, no drugs based on Apo A-1 Milano are commercially available.

 

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Rights to Apo A-1 Milano were acquired in 2003 by Pfizer.

Clinically known as ETC-216, Pfizer did not move trials forward, probably because the complex protein is very expensive to produce and must be administered intravenously, limiting its application compared to oral medications.

 

Pfizer, after the CETP agent torcetrapib failed in a large human safety trial, decided to exit the cardiovascular market in 2008, though they continue to market Lipitor aggressively.

Esperion, divested by Pfizer in 2008, is back in business and continue to work on HDL mimetic therapies.

The company established an agreement with Trans Gen Rx as a protein source.

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Calgary-based SemBioSys Genetics Inc. was a biotechnology company that was using safflower to develop commercial quantities of Apo A-1 Milano.

On 11 October 2011, SemBioSys Genetics signed a multi-product commercialization and platform collaboration agreement with Tasly Pharmaceuticals of Tianjin (China).

In May 2012, SemBioSys terminated its operations and announced that Tasly had terminated their agreement.

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On 22 December 2009, the Medicines Company announced it had entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Pfizer Inc. for Apo A-I Milano which it then renamed MDCO-216.

On 12 July 2010, the Medicines Company signed a pharmaceutical development and manufacturing contract with OctoPlus (a Netherlands-based drug delivery and drug development company) to perform process development and clinical manufacturing of MDCO-216.

After a trial study failed to produce significant enough results compared to other drugs being tested, in 2016 the Medicines Company discontinued development of MDCO-216.

 

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Cardigant Medical is a Los Angeles-based biotech company currently working to commercialize Apo A-1 Milano to treat various vascular diseases.

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Above: Logo of Cardigant Medical

 

One man of Limone (Daniele Comboni) spread the word of God to the continent of Africa.

Another man of Limone (Giovanni Pomarelli) left a heritage of health for the entire world to benefit from.

 

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Never underestimate the power of one person to make a difference in the world.

 

The wife and I were on vacation.

She was Bond, James Bond.

 

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Above: Ian Fleming’s original sketch impression of James Bond

 

I felt as helpless as Mr. White, though not tossed into the boot (trunk) of an Aston Martin I was a front seat passenger in a Capri careening through the tunnels of the Strada della Forra, the prisoner of a wife driven by purpose, bound for Limone sul Garda.

 

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Above: Jesper Christensen as Mr. White

 

Quantum of Solace is a 2008 spy film and the 22nd in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions.

 

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Directed by Marc Forster and written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, it is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, and the 2nd film to star Daniel Craig as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.

 

The poster shows Daniel Craig as James Bond, wearing a business suit with a loose tie and holding a gun. Behind him is a silhouette of a woman showing a building with a sign reading "Casino Royale" and a dark grey Aston Martin DBS below the building. At the bottom left of the image is the title "Casino Royale" – both "O"s stand above each other, and below them is a 7 with a trigger and gun barrel, forming Bond's codename: "Agent 007" – and the credits.

 

Moments after the end of Casino Royale, James Bond is driving from Lake Como to Siena, Italy, with the captured Mr. White in the boot of his Aston Martin DBS V12.

 

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Quantum of Solace was shot in six countries.

Malcesine, Limone sul Garda and Tremosine in Italy during March 2008.

Four weeks were scheduled for filming the car chase at Lake Garda and Carrara.

 

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On 19 April, an Aston Martin employee driving a DBS to the set crashed into the lake.

He survived, and was fined £400 for reckless driving.

 

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Another accident occurred on 21 April, and two days later, two stuntmen were seriously injured, with one, Greek stuntman Aris Comninos, having to be put in intensive care.

Filming of the scenes was temporarily halted so that Italian police could investigate the causes of the accidents.

 

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Above: Aris Comninos

 

Stunt co-ordinator Gary Powell said the accidents were a testament to the realism of the action.

Rumours of a “curse” spread among tabloid media, something which deeply offended Craig, who disliked that they compared Comninos’ accident to something like his minor finger injury later on the shoot (also part of the “curse“).

Comninos recovered safely from his injury.

 

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Above: Gary Powell

 

Considering the speed with which my wife likes to drive I wondered whether I would recover from mine.

 

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Where Goethe headed south from Limone to start a new life, we headed north from Limone to soon resume our old lives.

It was summer and it was hot, unbearably hot.

But on this day everything changed.

 

We arrived during a storm.

Though the winds were violent and the sky threatened I was jubliant.

I had found the days insufferable and the nights intolerable.

Being August and high season, everywhere seemed overflowing with everyone.

Even though Limone is a popular tourist destination there were fewer tourists on the streets and in the shops on this day.

 

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In a sense, the present lockdown of Limone (and the rest of Italy) is somewhat reflected in my memories of the town.

Folks huddled indoors, afraid to face the current situation.

 

 

We shopped and ate outside during breaks in the weather.

 

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Our feet found the way to the Museum of Tourism and the Castèl Lemon Grove.

 

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My memory sees white tiles in the pavement and cobblestone leading to the white pillars and walls of the limonaie facing the sun so as to catch life-sustaining, life-affirming rays of the distant star.

 

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The lemon groves stand proudly above the lake shore.

There may have been no more than 100 citrus plants lovingly assembled between stone pillars and beneath wooden frame roofs that could be covered during a storm and left bare during days of sunshine and warmth, but the visitor feels dwarfed and insignificant in an orchard that feels larger than its reality.

 

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I have no memory of whether we visited the town’s fishing museum or olive oil exhibition.

Where the former contains a typical boat with the tools used everyday for fishing by Limone’s forefathers, the latter holds an olive grove with silver leaves upon timeless trees and an ancient mill that coldly presses olives that produce an oil of very high quality.

 

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Our path following led us to the Parish Church of the Holy Benedict built in 1691 on the ruins of a former Roman basilica mentioned in Pope Urbano III’s Papal Bull in 1186.

In the past it was the duty of the church to keep records up to date and so the parish church contains the oldest known record of Limone’s social events.

Holy Services are held daily “where the three men I admire the most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost” smile upon this citrus coast amongst masterpieces of ecclesiastical art dating back to the 16th century.

It was here that Carboni was baptized as a boy.

We light a candle in memory of my wife’s beloved grandfather, a prayer for his eternal salvation.

 

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Above: The Parish Church of St. Benedict

 

We stumble upon the Church of St. Peter, the oldest church in Limone, dating back to the 9th century.

On the road to Tremosine on via San Pietro among olive trees, St. Peter is a simple church with a single nave and a white marble stoop.

The eyes and the spirit are drawn to the Church’s beautiful frescoes of the Last Supper and portraits of Saints Peter, Lucia and Zeno.

The simplicity of this small church evokes the essential inspiration of a community once deeply inspired by deep religious sentiment.

Until post-war years the population of Limone used St. Peter’s for penitentiary processions to implore the success of sowing and harvesting their crops, as well as to occasionally beseech immunity from natural disasters, illnesses and epidemics.

I wonder if the present lockdown allows the faithful of Limone to beseech God for deliverance from Covina-19.

The outside of the Church is powerful in its simplicity.

A small portico is inscribed with phrases bearing witness to important events that affected the town deeply, such as the plague of 1630, the defeat of Napoleon, bad olive harvests and seasons of sorrow.

Until the First World War, the portico was attached to a bell tower which was intentionally demolished because it was considered a dangerous landmark for the nearby artillery installations in Crocette.

What remains of this miniature House of God is therefore extremely precious.

St. Peter’s is an artistic, historical and religious relic, bearing truth to the town’s legacy of longevity, that Limone will endure while that which tests the resolve of the town will eventually pass.

 

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Above: The Church of St. Peter

 

Another church, the Church of St. Rocco, situated at the northern end of the town centre, was built during the 16th century by those who survived the Plague and is dedicated to the patron saint believed to have saved the settlement from extinction.

Sadly time has not been gentle to St. Rocco as the Church’s frescoes and tiny tower were seriously damaged during World War I.

Stone steps lead up to the Chapel where faith has not faltered though the Church crumbles.

 

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Above: The Church of San Rocco

 

In the historical town centre stands the former Chapel of St. Charles, built in 1905 by a Limone citizen in memory of her husband.

During WWI, the Chapel was used as a food stuffs cache for the town’s troops.

In 1930, the Chapel’s alter and sacred furnishings were removed and the premises used for civil events.

During the Second World War, the Chapel was again requisitioned for military use.

It now sits in silence, neither sacred or sublime, neither religious or secular.

 

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Above: the former Chapel of San Carlo

 

Limone believes in miracles, in the divine.

In addition to churches and chapels, frescoes and crucifixes, niches, commonly referred to as “capitèi“, testify to the profound faith that endures.

Symbols of faith, icons of hope, images of gratitude, are triumphiantly displayed upon the facades of houses, at crossroads, along the road that connects the village to the countryside and on the paths that climb up towards the mountains that scratch the heavens.

Via Capitelli is typical of this ecclesiastical expression as the population was particularly devoted to the capitèi of the Madonna del Bis on this road, St. Louis on Via Fasse, St. Marcus on Nanzéi and St. John Nepomuceno on the bridge of Via Tamas.

 

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Limone was a town in which I wish we had lingered longer, for days rather than hours.

We strolled between stalls selling nuts and candy, handbags and backpacks, lemons the size of melons on display amongst bottles of limoncello, packages of pasta and flasks of olive oil.

Our kitchen still contains a butter dish, a brightly painted memento of Limone sul Garda.

Temptations were many: caffes and gelaterias and ristorantes offering cucina italiana.

 

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From here the world feels small and I wonder, as I often do, what it would be like to be in Limone walking the early morning streets in an off-season month.

 

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When I consider Limone I think of a place that abides.

A place that awaits my return.

I only need to believe that the virus that despoils Italy will pass.

I only need to believe in miracles.

 

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Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Lonely Planet Italy / Rough Guide Italy / http://www.visitlimonesulgarda.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Slim and the Land of Oblivion

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Monday 17 February 2020

There is only one certainty in life:

Nothing is certain in life.

 

I have an ever-growing amount of writing projects that I wish to complete, but they are often delayed and sometimes replaced by other priorities that demand my time and attention.

One such unfinished self-assigned task is the writing (and continued imcomplete exploration) of Alsace in France on the border with Germany and Switzerland.

 

Location of Alsace

 

In two previous installments in this blog…..

(Please see Canada Slim and the City at the Crossroads & Canada Slim and the Swedish Pinot of this blog.)

…..and a previous blogpost in my other blog (https://buildingeverest.wordpress.com)…..

(Please see Canada Slim and the Burning King in the Building Everest blog.)

…..I wrote of travelling along Alsace’s Wine Route, a winding ribbon of flower-bedecked villages stretching 170 kilometres from Cleebourg in the north to Thann in the south.

 

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In the three aforementioned blogposts, I wrote of my travels between Wissembourg to Drachenbronn-Birlerbach and including Strassbourg.

 

A general view of Wissembourg

Above: Wissembourg

 

Above: Strasbourg

 

 

Where most sensible folks would drive or take public transportation I attempted last summer (17 – 24 June 2019) to walk part of the length of the Bas-Rhin (lower Rhine) Département from Wissembourg to Saverne.

 

Château des Rohan

Above: Château des Rohan, Saverne

 

Improper footware resulted in blistered feet before my week’s journey ended, but I did my best at the start to walk as much as I could.

 

On Monday 17 June 2019, I travelled by train from Landschlacht to Wissembourg via Romanshorn, Zürich, Basel and Strasbourg.

 

On Tuesday 18 June 2019, I journeyed from Wissembourg to Seltz.

I have already described my walk from Wissembourg to Drachenbronn-Birlerbach.

What followed is what follows below…..

 

Seltz, Alsace, France, Tuesday 18 June 2018

While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was trying to assure America that “Iran will not wage war against any nation.” after being accused by the United States of attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman…..

 

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Above: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

 

While 41 people were being killed in an attack in the Yoro and Gangafani villages in Mali…..

 

Malian troops stand guard prior to the visit of the French Prime Minister at the Operation Barkane military French base in Gao, Mali, on February 24, 2019.

 

While Google announced that it was setting aside $750 million in land and $250 million in financing to encourage developers in the San Francisco area to build and rehabilitate housing in order to ease the homeless crisis in a region where Google has 45,000 employees…..

 

Each letter of "Google" is colored (from left to right) in blue, red, yellow, blue, green, and red.

 

While Boeing was selling 200 of its 737 MAX planes…..

 

Boeing full logo.svg

 

While Columbian authorities were deporting Venezuelan refugees from the border town of Cúcuta…..

Above: Cúcuta

 

While US federal appeal court judges from the 9th Circuit were hearing arguments concerning the holding of undocumented immigrant children in unsafe and unsanitary conditions…..

 

Seal of the United States Courts, Ninth Judicial Circuit.svg

 

While Donald Trump’s speech at a rally in Orlando was being billed as the official launch of his re-election campaign for the 2020 US presidential election…..

 

Melania and Donald Trump.

 

While Britain’s Conservative Party was in the midst of their leadership election…..

 

Graphic showing the results of the second ballot of Tory MPs

 

While Patrick Shanahan resigned as US Secretary of Defense…..

 

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Above: Patrick Shanahan

 

…..I was walking the Maginot Line.

 

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The Maginot Line (French: Ligne Maginot), named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, is a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles and weapon installations built by France in the 1930s to deter invasion by Germany and force them to move around the fortifications.

Constructed on the French side of its borders with Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg, the line did not extend to the English Channel due to French strategy that envisioned a move into Belgium to counter a German assault.

 

 

Based on France’s experience with trench warfare during World War I, the massive Maginot Line was built in the run-up to World War II, after the Locarno Conference gave rise to a fanciful and optimistic “Locarno spirit“.

 

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From left to right, Gustav Stresemann (Germany), Austen Chamberlain (Great Britain) and Aristide Briand (France) during the Locarno Conference

 

After the bitter experiences of the First World War, from which France had emerged victorious, but in the course of which large areas in the north and east of the country were devastated and 1.4 million dead and 3.5 million wounded were mourned, the decision was made to to protect the border against Germany and later also against Italy.

 

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Above: Scenes of World War One

 

The defense system was planned by the Minister of War, Paul Painlevé, and was built under his successor André Maginot between 1930 and 1932.

 

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Above: André Maginot (1877 – 1932) was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament.

He is best known for his advocacy of the string of forts known as the Maginot Line.

 

After Hitler came to power, the system was expanded.

 

For a total of 700 km, 200 of them on the Alsatian-German border, ground-level, but mostly underground forts, artillery, infantry casemates, large shelters, observation bunkers, etc. were lined up, between which tank blocks and mine fields were built.

The individual facilities were not connected by corridors.

The larger fortresses, around so-called combat blocks with extendable turrets, ran through an often kilometer-long network of passages in which rails were laid in order to be able to transport the ammunition with wagons.

Their own power plants provided the necessary energy.

Up to 1,000 soldiers could be stationed here.

Dormitories, showers, canteen kitchens, medical wards and even wine cellars were set up for them.

The smaller casemates were occupied by up to 20 soldiers.

 

Above: The view of the village of Lembach in Alsace (northeast), taken from the combat unit number 5 of the fortress ouvrage Four-à-Chaux

 

French military experts extolled the Line as a work of genius that would deter German aggression, because it would slow an invasion force long enough for French forces to mobilise and counterattack.

The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack, including aerial bombings and tank fire, and had underground railways as a backup.

It also had state-of-the-art living conditions for garrisoned troops, supplying air conditioning and eating areas for their comfort.

 

Above: Combat block 1 at the ouvrage Four à Chaux, showing signs of German testing of explosives inside some fortresses between 1942 and 1944

 

Instead of attacking directly, the Germans invaded through the Low Countries, completely bypassing the Line to the north.

French and British officers had anticipated this:

When Germany invaded the Netherlands and Belgium, they carried out plans to form an aggressive front that cut across Belgium and connected to the Maginot Line.

However, the French line was weak near the Ardennes forest.

 

Above: Location of the Ardennes

 

Above: View of the Meuse in the French Ardennes

 

Marshal Maurice Gamelin, when drafting the Dyle Plan, believed this region, with its rough terrain, would be an unlikely invasion route of German Forces.

 

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Above: Maurice Gamelin (1872 – 1958) was a French army general in the French Army.

(Gamelin is remembered for his disastrous command (until 17 May 1940) of the French military during the Battle of France (10 May–22 June 1940) in World War II and his steadfast defence of republican values.

The Commander-in-chief of the French Armed Forces at the start of World War II, Gamelin was viewed as a man with significant intellectual ability.

He was respected, even in Germany, for his intelligence and “subtle mind“, though he was viewed by some German generals as stiff and predictable.

Despite this, and his competent service in World War I, his command of the French armies during the critical days of May 1940 proved to be disastrous.

Historian and journalist William L. Shirer presented the view that Gamelin used World War I methods to fight World War II, but with less vigor and slower response.)

 

(The Dyle Plan or Plan D was the plan of the Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, Général d’armée Maurice Gamelin to defeat a German attempt to invade France through Belgium.

The Dyle (Dijle) river is 86 km (53 mi) long, from Houtain-le-Val through Flemish Brabant and Antwerp.

Gamelin intended French, British and Belgian troops to halt a German invasion force along the line of the river.

The Franco-Belgian Accord of 1920 had co-ordinated communication and fortification efforts of both armies.

The Belgian government let the accord lapse after the German Remilitarization of the Rhineland on 7 March 1936, to adopt a policy of strict neutrality, with the German Army (Heer) on the Belgian border.)

 

If the Ardennes were traversed, it would be done at a slow rate that would allow the French time to bring up reserves and counterattack.

The German Army, having reformulated their plans from a repeat of the First World War-era plan, became aware of and exploited this weak point in the French defensive front.

A rapid advance through the forest and across the River Meuse encircled much of the Allied forces, resulting in a sizeable force being evacuated at Dunkirk leaving the forces to the south unable to mount an effective resistance to the German invasion of France.

 

Allied evacuation of Dunkirk

Above: Allied evacuation of Dunkirk

 

 

Opinions differ on the effect of the Maginot Line, which is sometimes even compared to the Great Wall of China.

 

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Above: The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling

 

In 1940 the Germans simply bypassed it.

They disregarded Belgium’s neutrality and invaded France from the north.

 

 

Many of the fortifications, however, could not be captured despite the most violent bombing.

Their crews surrendered only days after the armistice came into force on the orders of the French High Command.

 

The Line has since become a metaphor for expensive efforts that offer a false sense of security.

 

After the war the line was re-manned by the French and underwent some modifications.

With the rise of the French independent nuclear weapons by 1960 the line became an expensive anachronism.

Some of the larger ouvrages were converted to command centres.

When France withdrew from NATO’s military component (in 1966) much of the line was abandoned, with the NATO facilities turned back over to French forces and the rest of it auctioned-off to the public or left to decay.

 

NATO OTAN landscape logo.svg

 

A number of old fortifications have now been turned into wine cellars, a mushroom farm and even a disco.

Besides that, a few private houses are built atop some of the blockhouses.

Ouvrage Rochonvillers was retained by the French Army as a command centre into the 1990s, but was deactivated following the disappearance of the Soviet threat.

 

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Above: Bloc 5 of the Ouvrage Rochonvillers

 

Ouvrage Hochwald is the only facility in the main line that remains in active service, as a hardened command facility for the French Air Force known as Drachenbronn Air Base.

 

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Above: Maginot Line – Ouvrage Hochwald (Lower Rhine, France), Block 6. Artillery casemate block for 3 75mm model 29 guns

 

In 1968 when scouting locations for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, producer Harry Saltzman used his French contacts to gain permission to use portions of the Maginot Line as SPECTRE headquarters in the film.

Saltzman provided art director Syd Cain with a tour of the complex, but Cain said that not only would the location be difficult to light and film inside, but that artificial sets could be constructed at the studios for a fraction of the cost.

The idea was shelved.

 

A man in a dinner jacket on skis, holding a gun. Next to him is a red-headed woman, also on skis and with a gun. They are being pursued by men on skis and a bobsleigh, all with guns. In the top left of the picture are the words FAR UP! FAR OUT! FAR MORE! James Bond 007 is back!

 

Today, the military is no longer interested in the facilities, some casemates serve as storage rooms for farmers, mushrooms are grown in some forts, grenade launcher turrets have been removed, and the metal is often recycled for other purposes.

Few of the once 2,000 buildings in Alsace have been restored by the Association des Amis de la Ligne Maginot d’Alsace and are now accessible to interested visitors:

  • the Esch (near Hatten) infantry casemate
  • the Schoenenbourg artillery
  • the Four à Chaux fortification near Lembach
  • the casemates Dambach-Neunhoffen and Marckolsheim.

 

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I had walked from Wissembourg that morning to Drachenbronn and was still quite distant (in walking terms) from my pre-arranged hotel accommodation in Seltz.

 

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But I was determined, I was gung-ho, I had gumption.

I would reach Seltz before darkness descended if I was not distracted en route.

 

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I would be distracted….

 

For the Maginot Line would remind me of how Alsace has been, for generations, a battlefield.

 

 

Ouvrage Schoenenbourg is a Maginot Line fortification.

It is located on the territory of the communes of Hunspach, Schœnenbourg and Ingolsheim, in the French département of Bas-Rhin, forming part of the Fortified Sector of Haguenau, facing Germany.

At the east end of the Alsace portion of the Maginot Line, its neighbour is the gros ouvrage Hochwald.

It is the largest such fortification open to the public in Alsace.

Officially recorded as an historical monument, it retains all its original structural elements.

 

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Above: The main entrance to Ouvrage Schoenenbourg

 

In 1938, soldiers were bored guarding the Maginot line, against the Germans who were not coming.

Two generals sponsored a subscription to flower the casemates.

In a few months, 10,000 roses were planted.

The Germans continued to make cannons.

Their tanks did not respect flower beds.

 

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Schoenenbourg was heavily bombarded during the Battle of France in 1940, receiving more enemy ordinance than any other position in France, with no significant damage.

The fortification at Schoenenbourg is the one that saw the most combat between September 1939 and June 1940.

Over this period, over 17,000 shells were fired from the fort, and it was itself the target of over 3000 shells and 160 bombs.

Schoenenbourg was in action against the German 146th Infantry Division, which applied pressure along the Line.

On 19 June 1940, German Stukas attacked Schoenenbourg and other ouvrages, returning on the 20th and 21st.

The attacks on 21 June were joined by a bombardment with 420 mm siege mortars, lasting three days.

The bombardment cracked walls, but did not disable the position.

Schoenenbourg fired during this period in support of nearby casemates, not seriously affected by the bombardments.

Schoenenbourg’s turrets were retracted to receive the heavy shells, and raised during the lengthy reloading period for counter-battery fire.

The inventory of German ordnance fired against Schoenenbourg was assessed after the armistice, and found to comprise 160 aerial bombs, 50 42 cm shells, 33 28 cm shells, and approximately 3000 smaller projectiles, the most ammunition used against any fortification in France.

 

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The Ouvrage de Schoenenbourg was one of the most fought in June 1940.

From 3 September 1939 to 25 June 1940, the Guardians of Schoenenbourg shot 15,792 grenades of 75 mm caliber and 682 of 81 mm caliber.

That was a total of 16,474 grenades in 10 months, of which 13,388 in 10 days (from June 14 to 25), including 723 120mm-sized grenades.

During this time, the plant received 56 hits from 420 mm grenades, 33 from 280 mm grenades, 160 from aerial bombs and 3,000 from 105 or 150 mm grenades.

 

 

 

The final surrender of Schoenenbourg was effected on 1 July 1940, in accordance with the terms of the Second Compiègne armistice.

 

Above: Hitler (hand on hip) and German high-ranked Nazis and officers staring at WWI French marshall Maréchal Foch’s memorial statue before entering the railway carriage in order to start the negotiations for the 1940 armistice at Rethondes in the Compiègne forest, France.

The armistice will only be signed the next day (June 22), Hitler being absent, by General Keitel on the German side and by General Huntziger on the French side.

Screenshot taken from the 1943 United States Army propaganda film Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight #3) directed by Frank Capra and partially based on news archives, animations, restaged scenes and captured propaganda material from both sides.

 

Above: Ferdinand Foch’s Railway Car, at the same location as after World War One, prepared by the Germans for the second armistice at Compiègne, June 1940

 

Following the surrender Schoenenbourg was used as a backdrop for propaganda films and as an indoctrination center for Hitler Youth.

 

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Above: Flag of the Hitler Youth

 

In 1945, retreating German troops used explosives to destroy much of the ouvrage.

No fighting took place in the area of Schoenenbourg during the American advances of 1945, but the retreating Germans of the 245th Infantry Division caused extensive damage in March, using explosives to wreck the entrances and turrets, along with a number of nearby casemates.

The US 36th Infantry Division took possession of the damaged ouvrage on 20 March 1945.

 

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Above: Ensignia of the US 36th Infantry

 

After the War it was fully repaired and placed back into service as part of a programme to use Maginot fortifications to resist a potential Warsaw Pact advance through Europe.

 

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Above: Logo of the Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance

 

In the 1950s interest in the Maginot Line was renewed.

In 1951, Lembach, Four-à-Chaux, Hochwald and Schoenenbourg were designated the Môle de Haguenau, a point of resistance against a potential invasion by forces of the Warsaw Pact.

Lembach was repaired and put in a state of readiness in 1951-52.

 

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Above: Four à Chaux, Lembach

 

Wartime damage was repaired.

The reconstructed entries took on a form that was modified from the original design, using the old foundations.

 

By the late 1950s interest in fixed fortifications was waning after France developed a nuclear deterrent.

The money needed to maintain and upgrade the fortifications was diverted for the nuclear programs.

Schoenenbourg was not manned or maintained after the early 1970s.

 

By the 1970s the plan had lost favour and funding.

Schoenenbourg was abandoned.

 

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In 1987 a local organisation undertook Schoenenbourg’s preservation and today it is open to public visitation.

In 1987 the French Army allowed the Association des Amis de la Ligne Maginot d’Alsace (Alsace Association of Friends of the Maginot Line) to conduct tours of the fortification.

From 1987 the group has worked to restore Schoenenbourg.

 

 

 

The gallery system was used by the army for training until 2001 and the surface hosted three field emplacements for anti-aircraft missiles.

On 4 September 2001, Schoenenbourg was the first gros ouvrage to be sold by the Ministry of Defense to a local community.

And it is the local community of nearby Schoenenbourg village that determines when the Ouvrage is open.

 

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Above: The Village of Schoenenbourg

 

Tours, for safety reasons, are no longer self-guided.

Prepared with warm clothing, the Visitor should be also prepared to be impressed by the underground facilities, once garrisoned by 620 soldiers at any given time.

The Fort with its three kilometres of underground galleries, equipment, infrastructure, casemates and towers, kitchens, machine rooms, the infirmary and all the living quarters have been restored in graphic detail.

 

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Mannequins in uniform sleep in the dormitories or gorge themselves on local produce.

The huge underground fortress belonging to the Ligne Maginot is very close to the village of Schoenenbourg.

A staircase takes you about 30 meters down, first you visit the supply bunker with a fully equipped team kitchen (there was even a potato peeling machine), barracks and power station and then walk about one kilometer along the rails to one of the battle bunkers with a retractable armored turret.

 

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The Fort is open every day for organized groups.

Individual visitors are admitted from 1 April to 31 October.

 

 

 

As the right cornerstone of the Maginot line, the Schoenenbourg group is a typical medium-sized artillery group (size class 2).

The shell was built from 1930 to 1933.

In 1935 the interior and armament were installed.

They were further improved and would have been expanded beyond 1940.

Most parts of the plant are 17 to 30 m underground.

Only the two factory entrances and the battle bunkers are on the surface of the earth.

The two entrances, one for the crew and one for the material delivery, are on the opposite side of a hill.

 

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Shafts with stairs and elevators lead from the entrance structures to the underground parts of the factory.

 

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There is a barracks with a kitchen and a hospital, a power plant, workshops, ammunition depots and command posts.

There was a narrow gauge railway in the plant that transported the material from the material entrance through a tunnel over 1 km long to the combat blocks.

 

The battle bunkers on the enemy side in the hill consist of two side-flanking infantry casemates (blocks 1 and 6), a retractable MG tank tower, two retractable tank towers with cannons and a retractable tank tower with a grenade launcher.

 

Above: Cross-section of a 75mm combat block showing the operation of the turret

 

The crew consisted of about 20 officers, 70 non-commissioned officers and 500 team ranks.

The crew size often fluctuated between 510 and 630 men. 183 of the crew, including about eight officers, were infantry, 230 men including ten artillery officers and 133 men including two to three officers were pioneers and members of the utility services.

Some of the crew were handed over to the Hoffen, Aschbach and Hatten observation bunkers as artillery observers.

The work group was commanded in 1939/40 by Major Reynier, who was supported by Captain Cortasse as the commander of the factory artillery, Captain Kieffer as the commander of the infantry and Captain Straw as the pioneer commander.

 

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The individual systems of the work group and their armament:
– Block 1: Infantry Casemate North. 1 × 4.7-cm-Pak (Canon de 47 mm AC modèle 1934), 2 twin MGs, 2 MG armored domes.
– Block 2: MG tank tower. 1 twin machine gun in tank tower, 1 machine gun dome.
– Block 3: Panzerturm. 2 × 7.5 cm howitzer (model R 32), 1 MG armored dome.
– Block 4: Panzerturm. 2 × 7.5 cm howitzer (model R 32), 1 observation dome, 1 MG armored dome.
– Block 5: tank tower. 2 × 8.1 cm grenade launchers, 1 grenade launcher dome, 1 MG tank dome.
– Block 6: Infantry casemate south. 1 × 4.7 cm pak, 1 twin machine gun, 1 machine gun dome.
– Block 7: Ammunition entrance. 1 × 4.7 cm pak, 1 twin machine gun, 2 machine gun domes.
– Block 8: Team entrance. 1 × 4.7-cm-Pak, 1 twin machine gun, 1 grenade launcher dome, 1 MG tank dome.

 

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The original planning had planned two artillery casemates, each with two 7.5 cm howitzers, which were to act as flanks, and an artillery armored turret as a frontal defense.

Because of the flat terrain, the two mighty gun casemats were replaced by armored turrets and their number was reduced from three to two.

A tank tower with two 13.5-cm howitzers, moved as combat block 9 to the second construction phase, was never built because the outbreak of the war meant that the second construction phase was not realized.

 

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During normal operation, the Maginot Line plants were supplied with 22,000 volts from the outside via an underground cable.

Because an interruption in the external power supply had to be expected in the event of war, all plants were equipped with their own power plants.

Many functions of a Maginot plant depended on the supply of electricity:
– Lighting (approx. 2000 lamps)
– Transport (six elevators, two electric locomotives)
– Message transmission (radio, telephone, machine telegraph)
– Ventilation (35 fans)
– Water supply (ten pumps)
– Operation of the turrets
– Kitchen (electric stove, boiler, etc.)

 

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There were four diesel generators in the machine room of the power plant.

Two generators were sufficient for normal operation.

When the plant was in a fight, a third generator was switched on to compensate for the increased energy requirements due to the lifting, lowering and turning of the armored turrets, the more frequent ammunition lifts, the increased traffic of the electric narrow-gauge railways and the increased use of ventilation.

The fourth generator was in reserve.

In the event of a sudden power failure, a small emergency generator was available in the power plant for a black start, which could be started manually and only supplied the power plant with power until the large diesel generators could be started.

 

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These units were diesel engines from Sulzer with four cylinders each and a total output of 117.68 kW with a consumption of 20 liters of fuel per hour.

They were started using compressed air.

Each engine drove a generator that delivered 115 kVA in 440 volts.

All four generators could optionally be coupled together.

The very robust engines came from submarines and were dismantled by the German Wehrmacht for this purpose after the plant was abandoned.

 

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The power station also has a transforming and transformer station that spans the 440 volt alternating current into 110 volt alternating current for the lighting network, 600 volt direct current for the electric locomotives and 3000 volts for the supply of the combat blocks.

Due to the higher voltage, the transmission losses were reduced, in the combat blocks the 3000 volts were switched over again according to your own needs.

 

 

In addition to the machine room and the forming station, the power plant also includes workshops, offices, spare parts stores and large storage tanks for 96,000 liters of diesel oil, 184,000 liters of cooling water and 6,000 liters of lubricating oil.

The main ventilation of the plant with a filter room is also housed here.

In an emergency, all of the plant’s electrically operated facilities could also be operated by hand.

 

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Because of the dramatic events that forced the surrender of Fort Vaux during the First World War, because the garrison was close to dying of thirst, special attention was paid to the water supply of the Maginot works.

 

Above: Fort Vaux, Verdun

 

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Above: The exhausted defenders of Fort Vaux

 

The Schoenenbourg plant had 263,000 liters available in 14 reservoirs.

These reservoirs were fed from a 117 meter deep well that guaranteed the independence of the plant.

Also, when the tunnel was driven, three water veins were cut, which were caught and added to the water supply.

 

The barracks are located near the team entrance and not far from the power station.

It housed accommodation for crews and officers, the kitchen, the hospital, washrooms and showers, the clothing store, and food and drinking water supplies.

There were toilets in every battle block.

 

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In the main command center, all communications came together.

The reports from the individual combat blocks and also from other bunkers and plants were recorded and evaluated here.

Here was the fortress commander’s room and the telephone exchange, which was also in constant communication with the radio room, which was in the ammunition entrance for technical reasons.

Once the reports received had been evaluated and there was an overview of the situation, the fire control center of the artillery issued the commands to the combat blocks.

The commands were issued from here via machine telegraphs directly to the gun turrets.

 

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So it often only took a few minutes from a reported enemy sighting to opening  fire.

 

It was the local community volunteers who encountered a certain tall, thirsty Canadian hiker that horribly warm Tuesday afternoon.

When I arrived all tired and thirsty, hot (high 20°s) and bothered, as Google Maps and poor signage had been distinctly unhelpful in navigating through the Outre Fôret, I was informed that I was too early for a guided tour and that the tour would last two hours and that the warren labyrinth of tunnels required a guided tour.

Having to wait two hours for a tour and being still four hours’ walking distance away from Seltz and my pre-booked hotel room, I regretably had to give the Fort a pass.

The voluntary guides were obliging enough to allow me to drink a belly full of cold water and to refill my water bottle, but I was deeply saddened not to be able to have the opportunity to hear the human side of these fortifications beyond the facts I had previously garnered.

 

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A few kilometres away from the Fort I see a sign at the entrance to the town of Hunspach (population: 700) which informs the visitor that he has arrived in one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Hunspach can be rightly proud of their blossom-white plastered half-timbered houses from the 18th and 19th centuries with characteristic gable canopies and large courtyards.

Together they form a picturesque ensemble.

 

Main Street in Hunspach

 

Still one of the most attractive villages that I have seen, Hunspach was rebuilt by the Swiss after the ravages of the Thirty Years War (which perhaps explains this solemnity and cleanliness of the place).

Some curious details to note:

Several residences have curved panes which formerly allowed residents to see outside while preserving their privacy.

 

Hunspach

 

The village is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The most beautiful villages of France) association.

Hunspach has retained much of its traditional architecture.

The houses are white and in the Alsatian half timbered style.

Open central yards offer glimpses of the working farms within.

 

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Hunspach really deserves attention.

Without being particularly spectacular, it exudes a great sweetness of life.

Above all, it is not a village museum, unlike many listed villages.

It is a village that lives!

 

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Everywhere in the village, old draw wells remind us that water once had to be laboriously brought into the houses by hand.

The Hunspacher are also tradition-conscious when it comes to eating.

For Sunday breakfast, the thick cake, a yeast pastry, is served almost everywhere, and every housewife has her family recipe for the village specialty Flaaschknepfle (meatballs in white sauce).

 

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The only famous personality that Hunspach seems to have produced is Hans Adam Rott.

Hans Adam Rott (1876 – 1942) was a German historian, especially an art historian.

He was the director of the Baden State Museum in Karlsruhe for many years.

 

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Above: Baden State Museum (Badisches Landesmuseum), Karlsruhe

 

After attending grammar school in Weissenburg, Hans Rott initially studied law at the University of Freiburg, where he obtained his PhD.

Subsequently, he studied history, art history and church history at the University of Heidelberg, where he earned another doctorate in 1904 with a thesis on Friedrich II.

 

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Above: Friedrich II (1482 – 1556), also known as Frederick the Wise, a member of the Wittelsbach dynasty, was Prince-Elector of the Palatinate from 1544 to 1556.

 

In 1906 Rott undertook a trip through Asia Minor to research the Christian monuments there.

Rott succeeded Max Wingenroth as assistant to the director at the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe in 1909, where he also worked on the inventory of Baden art monuments.

From 1919 until his retirement in 1938, he was director of the State Museum.

He was awarded the title of Professor for his services.

He researched and published primarily in the field of art history in Baden and southwestern Germany at the time of the transition from late Gothic to the Renaissance, for which he mainly evaluated archival sources.

 

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Above: Hunspach, Rott’s birthplace

 

The next village (population: 1,200) I visited first appears in surviving records in 1052 as Hoffen.

Hof is a Germanic word denoting a farm, a homestead or a settlement.

The village coat of arms comes from the Trautwein family who founded Hof: the family died out in 1664.

 

Blason de Hoffen

 

The story of Hof has been a turbulent one.

In the 14th century there were two settlements: Hoven comprised a dozen farms and Buren just four houses.

These were the property of St Peter the Younger in Strasbourg.

 

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Above: Church of St. Peter the Younger, Strasbourg

 

However, in 1450, the villages were surrendered to the lords of Hohenbourg and Fleckenstein.

 

Above: Château de Hohenbourg, Alsace

 

Above: Chateau de Fleckenstein, Alsace

 

Then from the end of the 15th century possession of these settlements passed into the hands of the Counts of Zweibrücken.

During the 17th century Hoffen became attached to the Bailiwick of Cleebourg.

 

Cleebourg

Above: Cleebourg, Alsace

 

The Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648) was devastating for many villages in Alsace, and in 1633 the hamlet of Buren disappeared following the passing of Imperial Catholic troops.

 

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Above: Illustration from Jacques Callot’s Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre (The Great Miseries of the War), 1632

 

There were further destructive wars for much of the 18th century, but 1748 probably marked the end of the most deadly of them all for Alsace.

 

Many villages were left depopulated and were subsequently resettled by migrants from Switzerland, higher up the river Rhine or from other parts of France which emerged from the war in possession of most of the major towns and cities in Alsace, and controlled the whole province by the time of Louis XIV’s death in 1715.

In September 1939 the population of Hoffen was evacuated to Haute Vienne as the government reluctantly planned for another territorial struggle with Germany.

In 1974 the communes of Leiterswiller, Hoffen and Hermerswiller merged.

 

 

Hoffen is a typical and charming village with its flowering houses of geraniums, its portals and its wooden balconies.

 

Hoffen

 

I like the main square and the old half-timbered town hall, with an elegant wooden gallery on columns.

Next door, I see a majestic lime tree planted during the Revolution.

 

The town hall in Hoffen

Above: City Hall, Hoffen

 

By the time I leave Hoffen I find myself feeling worried.

I am still, according to my calculations, three hours’ walking distance from Seltz, and the sun will be setting soon.

I really don’t wish to be walking in darkness in unfamiliar territory and as it seems that my slow ambling at the Fort and in the picturesque hamlets of Hunspach and Hoffen, I decide to chance getting a lift with a driver to Seltz.

 

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His name is Thierry Labbé.

He is a phys-ed teacher at a high school in Hagenau heading home to Hatten and welcomed the distraction of a Canadian hitchhiker on this oft-travelled commute.

 

Above: Hagenau, Alsace

 

(He knew I was Canadian as I sported my flag on my backpack.

Subsequent questioning and my ability to speak French confirmed my status.)

 

A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.

 

Thierry volunteered to drive me right to the door of my hotel outside Seltz even though this was several kilometres away from his original destination.

Our journey took us right through Hatten and past Esch.

 

Hatten marks the start of the Outre Fôret in the north of the Bas-Rhin, at the northern edge of the Haguenau forest.

The town, although located in the plain of Alsace, has a hilly type relief.

 

 

A collection of Neolithic objects has been unearthed beneath the town hall.

The Hatten chariot tomb attests to the geographical belonging of the tumuli culture of middle Europe.

However, it is necessary to consider globally the extensive site of the Hatten forest and the Bois de l’Hospital, a necropolis of more than 300 mounds identified.

The first cartular occurrence of the temporal possessions of Wissembourg Abbey mentions this village-domain for a few scattered properties.

The village initially belonged to the county of Alsace and was in the Hattgau.

In 1332 the Lords of Lichtenberg bought it together with a number of other villages and rights.

 

 

The office had developed in the 14th century and was an office of the Lichtenberg rule, from 1480 Hanau-Lichtenberg county, from which it passed to Hesse-Darmstadt county in 1736.

Hatten Castle was built by the Lichtenbergers before 1354.

It was handed over to the Kurpfalz by the Lichtenbergers and received back as a fief.

The local farmers saw themselves as free farmers. So they had no need to get urban liberties.

They were already free.

That is why Hatten was never granted city rights – in contrast to other larger places under the Lichtenberg rule.

 

Anna von Lichtenberg (1442 – 1474) married Count Philipp I the Elder of Hanau-Babenhausen (1417 – 1480) in 1458.

The county of Hanau-Lichtenberg was formed through the marriage.

After the death of the last Lichtenberger, Count Jakob, an uncle of Anna, Philipp I ruled Hanau-Lichtenberg, which also included Hatten.

 

 

 

This remained under the authority of the Landgraves of Basse-Alsace before being sold to the powerful lords of Lichtenberg in 1332.

They bequeathed it to their heirs, the Hanau-Lichtenberg in 1448, then the Hesse-Darmstadt in 1736.

Count Philip IV of Hanau-Lichtenberg (1514-1590) consistently carried out the Reformation in his county after he took office in 1538, which now became Lutheran.

Around 1680 parts of the county of Hanau-Lichtenberg in Alsace fell under the sovereignty of France, including Hatten.

In 1736 Count Johann Reinhard III, the last male representative of the Hanau Family died.

 

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Due to the marriage of his only daughter, Charlotte (1700 – 1726), to Prince Ludwig (1691 – 1768) of Hesse-Darmstadt.

Before the Revolution, Hatten was the capital of a bailiwick grouping ten villages.

It was animated by an almost negligible commercial life, apart from three big annual fairs.

As a result of the French Revolution, the part of Hanau-Lichtenberg on the left bank of the Rhine – and thus also Hatten – fell to France.

 

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Above: Storming of the Bastille

 

During the demographic peak in 1849, with 2,139 inhabitants, the town hosted various houses of trade in fabrics, iron, wood and wine, in addition to a notary and a collector of direct contributions.

The village was even the seat of a small Protestant consistory of the Augsburg Confession, since it counted among its population 1,131 Protestants and 22 Anabaptists for 765 Catholics and 222 Jews.

 

Above: Europe, 1618

 

From 1871 until the end of the First World War, the municipality belonged to the German Empire as part of the Empire of Alsace-Lorraine and was assigned to the district of Weissenburg in Lower Alsace.

During the German Belle Époque, a brigade of gendarmes, three doctors, a pharmacy, a bookstore, a savings bank, a public cash register, grain wholesalers, hops, cattle, wood and charcoal were added.

 

 

In 1939, Hatten was on the Maginot Line, so as a precaution the 1,500 inhabitants of the village were evacuated to Château Ponsac in Limousin by the French authorities.

 

They left behind everything that didn’t fit in a suitcase.

 

But luckily, the village did not suffer then.

So in 1940, the inhabitants of Hatten were able to return to Alsace, then annexed by the Germans.

 

On 13 December 1944, after 4 years of occupation, the village was liberated without fighting by the Americans and the inhabitants then felt safe.

But on 1 January 1945, the Germans launched one of their last war offensives, Operation Nordwind, which aimed, among other things, to reconquer Strasbourg.

 

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Hatten was then a must for the German tanks and, during the tank battles between Germans and Americans between 8 and 20 January, the village was almost entirely destroyed by a succession of tank fighting, with the enormous power of American artillery fire completing the destruction operation.

Indeed, after 12 days of fighting, of the 365 houses in the village then, 350 were destroyed.

2,500 soldiers and 83 civilians were killed there.

 

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After the war, the martyred village was rebuilt.

A bunker museum and a commemorative plaque in the center of the church testify to the losses.

 

The town of Hatten is actually an unassuming residential village, but if you are interested in military history and the Ligne Maginot, you will see a lot here.

 

 

 

The Cour de Marie is a delightful and atypical museum which pays homage to village traditions with agricultural equipment, Raynal dolls, baby carriages, 19th century sewing machines, gallery radio sets….

Not forgetting the hairdressing salon and the grocery store from the 1950s.

 

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In the west of the village, an open-air museum has been set up on the site of a former large shelter.

This shelter museum (Museé de l’abri) is set up in a large bunker, which the French military built in 1930 as a defensive structure against the German Empire and which was given to a volunteer association for use in the 1990s.

The museum is not subsidized by the state and is financed by donations and entrance fees.

 

Hatten

 

Their exhibition concept is unusual:

It sees itself as a museum against oblivion.

 

Therefore, relics from the Second World War have been gathered from everywhere, including from Germany.

Among other things, models illustrate the devastating tank battle at Hatten in January 1945.

The documents on everyday life during the Second World War are particularly impressive.

 

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To the east of the village you can also visit the Casemate d’Esch with two restored original rooms and a small exhibition.

Built in 1931, Casemate Esch was occupied by the 23rd Fortress Infantry Regiment, which assisted in combat in June 1940 during the enemy attack on the Aschbach and Oberroedern casemates.

In January 1945, Esch was successively taken and retaken by the Germans and Americans and was the scene of fierce fighting of which it still bears traces today.

 

Above: Casemate Esch

 

After a pleasant drive and conversation where he explained to me the sites we passed, Thierry left me at my hotel, asking me to befriend him on Facebook.

 

The Hôtel des Bois in Seltz is a quiet resting place near the German border with:

  • 15 rooms
  • 4 studios
  • 1 apartment

All are on offer for an overnight or a longer stay.

 

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The Hôtel did its best to provide for my comfort.

The front desk is open 24 hours and free Wi-Fi access is provided in the entire hotel.

Bicycle storage and free private parking are possible on site.

All the rooms were renovated in 2017.

Though they would offer breakfast in a well-lit dining hall, supper had to be catch-as-catch-can from the Super U mall besides Autoroute A35.

 

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The A35 autoroute is a toll free, 137 km / 116-mile long highway in northeastern France.

It is also known as the Autoroute des cigognes (storks) and the Voie Rapide du Piémont des Vosges.

It connects the German border in the Rhine valley with the Swiss frontier via Strasbourg.

The road forms part of European routes E25 and E60.

At the northern end, where the road reaches the German frontier, it becomes a single carriageway road controlled by a speed camera.

On the German side of the frontier, plans to build a final stretch of Autobahn to connect the French A35 directly with the German A65 at Kandel were not implemented during the 1990s when the focus of Autobahn construction switched to the eastern side of the country.

The project remains unimplemented:

It is contentious because of the ecological impact it could have on the Bienwald (wooded area) through which the road would run.

 

Cartouche de la route

 

My hotel was on the western end of town.

What was worth exploring was to the east.

And the subject of a future post…..

 

Flag of Alsace

Above: Flag of Alsace

 

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.

 

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Above: Nancy Reagan (née Davis) (1921 – 2016)

 

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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

 

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In 1859 Henri Dunant was travelling on business through northern Italy.

 

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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.

 

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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)

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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)

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Above: The Analects

  • that we should live lives of non-violence with respect towards all (The Edicts of Ashoka – India 260 BC)

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Above: The Edicts of Ashoka

 

  • that power should not be used arbitrarily nor imprisonment without just cause (The Magna Carta – England 1215)

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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)

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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

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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“.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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 Author’s Apartment 2: Suffering

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Sunday 17 November 2019

I have often believed that you can tell a lot about a person by the manner in which they live.

For example, if you, my gentle readers, wanted to comprehend the conundrum that is Canada Slim, yours truly, you would need to visit the apartment I share with the Mrs. here in the wee hamlet of Landschlacht.

 

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It is cluttered.

I like to physically surround myself with books in the dim hope that I will somehow absorb into my system the knowledge within these tomes.

 

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Two subjects dominate my library: travel and history.

Though there are certainly books connected with teaching and languages, more space is taken up with travel and history.

Half of the volumes of these dominant topics have a personal connection with me, for I have done some travel and the history of the places I have visited has always fascinated me.

For example, I spent a week in Serbia, primarily in Belgrade, and I possess an entire shelf of literature dedicated to that week.

 

Above: Belgrade by night

 

I long to understand what I have seen and love to share what I have understood.

 

Every person has their interests to which they gravitate towards when they travel.

I know those who belong on beaches and others who seek sanctuary in pubs and watering holes.

Some need to actively exert themselves in a sport or recreational activity, while others simply wish to sit or lie about.

 

My wife has a morbid fascination with all things funereal like cemeteries, ossuaries and hospitals, while I seek to educate myself on the culture and literature of the new found land I am visiting.

 

Above: Braque Triptych, Rogier van der Weyden

 

I must confess to being a bit of a barbarian vis à vis the world of art so I often may miss museums that others rave on and on about.

But tell me of a writer once living and/or dying in a place and I make my way to that site as quickly as I can.

And I linger therein until the constraints of a tourist’s schedule and the limits of a museum’s patience are tested.

 

Above: William Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, England

 

As I have said, you can tell volumes about a person when you view how they live, for one’s lodgings show one’s life priorities, what he chooses to remember and what he prefers to forget.

 

Life is such that we must often be ashamed of the best things it holds, hiding them away from everyone, even from those closest to us.

(Ivo Andric, Signs by the Roadside)

 

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A while back I began to write about the Memorial Museum and the fascinating life of Ivo Andric.

 

Frontal view of a bespectacled man

Above: Ivo Andric, 1961

 

Ivo Andric (1892 – 1975) was a Yugoslav novelist, poet and short story writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961.

In the years following Andrić’s death, the Belgrade apartment where he spent much of World War II and the rest of his life was converted into a museum and a nearby street corner was named in his honour.

A number of other cities in the former Yugoslavia also have streets bearing his name.

 

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Above: Flag of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia (1945 – 1992)

 

In 2012, filmmaker Emir Kusturica began construction of an ethno-town in eastern Bosnia that is named after Andrić.

 

Above: Andricgrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina

 

As Yugoslavia’s only Nobel Prize-winning writer, Andrić was well known and respected in his native country during his lifetime.

 

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, beginning in the 1950s and continuing past the breakup of Yugoslavia, his works have been disparaged by Bosniak literary critics for their supposed anti-Muslim bias.

 

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Above: Flag of Bosnia – Herzegovina

 

In Croatia, his works were long shunned for nationalist reasons, and even briefly blacklisted following Yugoslavia’s dissolution, but were rehabilitated by the literary community at the start of the 21st century.

 

Flag of Croatia

Above: Flag of Croatia

 

He is highly regarded in Serbia for his contributions to Serbian literature.

 

Flag of Serbia

Above: Flag of Serbia

 

I have written about Andric and continue to do so here and in two further posts to come, because I am fascinated by his life and how he lived that life.

I have written about how Andric was raised and educated in the Balkans and abroad.

 

The Balkan region according to Prof R. J. Crampton

 

Everytime I think of Andric I recall a conversation I had once with Nesha Obranovic, my Serbian host in Belgrade.

He spoke of his reluctance to wield weapons for the Serbian military, because for him the idea of Serbia being separate from a united Yugoslavia seemed somewhat strange.

Because we must remember that the nation of Serbia as we now know it is a recent invention that resulted after the break-up of Yugoslavia in 2000.

 

Yugoslavia during the Interwar period and the Cold War

Above: Map of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918 – 1941) and map of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia (1945 – 1992)

 

Yugoslavia, for all its many faults and flaws under the iron rule of Josip Broz Tito (1892 – 1980), was a union of Slovenes, Croatians, Bosnians, Montenegrese, Macedonians and Serbians, with more in common with each other than different.

 

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Above: Josip Broz Tito (1892 – 1980)

 

And though the drive for self-destiny led to the inevitable break-up of Yugoslavia into the modern states of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, it was nonetheless for many unnatural to wage war against those who had once upon a time been brother Yugoslavs.

 

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Certainly Andric was born a Bosnian and died a Serbian, but his writing is simultaneously both and neither Bosnian and Serbian but rather universal.

 

I believe that if people knew how agonizing living my life has been, they would be more willing to forgive my wrongdoings and all the good I have failed to do, and still have a shred of compassion left over for me.

(Ivo Andric, Signs by the Roadside)

 

Above: Ivo Andric, 1951

 

Nesha was born in Yugoslavia, but because of historical forces beyond his control he is Serbian.

Nesha does not feel the need to automatically hate Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians, Montenegrese or Macedonians, because, in their desire for independence, blood was shed copiously by Serbian and non-Serbian alike.

 

Under Slobodan Milosevic (1941 – 2006), much violence was committed in the name of Serbia against fellow Yugoslavs.

But not all Serbians were / are like Milosevic.

Nesha certainly is not.

 

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Above: Slobodan Milosevic, 1988

 

Nesha is one of the most honourable men it has been my privilege to know as a colleague and friend here in Switzerland.

He is Serbian, but he isn’t all Serbians.

He was born in Belgrade, but he is not the government.

Like many Americans who are proud of America but are ashamed of their political past, Nesha is proud of Serbia but not always enamored with all aspects of Serbia’s past.

Just as I try to judge others on a case by case basis, Nesha similarly does the same.

One of the reasons we get along so well.

 

Above: House of the National Assembly, Belgrade, Serbia

 

It is this universality of thought and behaviour that attracts me to the life and works of Ivo Andric.

To be able to write universally one must be at one with the world, and it was the experiences of Andric between the two World Wars that would lead him to write works that would be universally understood and loved.

 

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Come with me now, back into the Memorial Museum of Ivo Andric and let us look at what makes a man of letters….

 

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Belgrade, Serbia, 5 April 2018

I have already written of how Ivo Andric, the only Serb to ever win the Nobel Prize for Literature, was born into a family of a Catholic father and an Orthodox mother near Travnik in present day Bosnia.

I wrote of how he studied philosophy, Slavic history and literature, and how following his graduation he took to writing poetry regularly.

 

Above: Birthplace of Ivo Andric, Dolac, Bosnia

 

The year was 1914 and Europe was dominated by ambitious imperial states.

A series of wars in the 1860s and 1870s established Germany as Europe’s superior military power.

In the 1890s France and Russia formed an alliance to counter the might of Germany and its close ally, Austria – Hungary.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Britain, feeling threatened by the growth of the German navy, abandoned its traditonal isolationism and formed an entente – a loose unofficial alliance – with France and Russia.

Peace was maintained by a balance of power between the two hostile alliances.

The European states expanded their armed forces and equipped them with the latest technology.

They developed plans for the rapid mobilization of mass conscript armies that threatened to turn any confrontation into full scale war.

Every country felt that the side that struck first would hace a decisive advantage.

 

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The behaviour of Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was aggressive and erratic, particularly during the Moroccan Crisis of 1911, but the spark that ignited war came in the Balkans, where states, such as Serbia, had become independent of Ottoman Turkish rule in the 19th century.

 

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany - 1902.jpg

Above: Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859 – 1941)

 

(The Agadir Crisis, Agadir Incident or Second Moroccan Crisis  – also known as the Panthersprung in German –  was a brief international crisis sparked by the deployment of a substantial force of French troops in the interior of Morocco in April 1911.

Germany did not object to France’s expansion, but wanted territorial compensation for itself.

Berlin threatened warfare, sent a gunboat and stirred up angry German nationalists.

Negotiations between Berlin and Paris resolved the crisis:

France took over Morocco as a protectorate in exchange for territorial concessions to Germany from the French Congo, while Spain was satisfied with a change in its boundary with Morocco.

The British cabinet, however, was alarmed at Germany’s aggressiveness toward France.

David Lloyd George made a dramatic “Mansion House” speech that denounced the German move as an intolerable humiliation.

There was talk of war, and Germany backed down.

Relations between Berlin and London remained sour.)

 

French troops in Morocco during the Agadir Crisis, March 30, 1912.jpg

Above: French troops on the move in Morocco

 

Russia had ambitions to spread its influence in the Balkans as the champion of the Slav peoples.

This led to hostile relations with Austria – Hungary, which was at odds with restless Slav minorities within its own borders.

 

Austria – Hungary’s ruler, Emperor Franz Joseph, has come to the throne in 1849.

His regime was splendid in its public ceremonies but shaky in its political foundations.

In 1908 Austria – Hungary annexed Bosnia – Herzegovina, a province with a mixed Serb, Croat and Bosnian Muslim population.

This annexation angered Serbia, which had its own ambitions to unite the region’s Slav population under its rule.

The Austro – Hungarian government felt the rising power of Serbia was a threat to its authority over its restless Slav subjects in the Balkans.

 

Emperor Francis Joseph.jpg

Above: Franz Joseph I (1830 – 1916)

 

Franz Ferdinand was the nephew of the Emperor.

He became heir apparent to the Habsburg throne in 1889.

His relations with the Emperor were soured by his insistence on marrying an impoverished Czech aristocrat, Sophie Chotek, in 1900.

He was forced to agree to humiliating terms in order to marry her.

She was denied royal status and any offspring would be barred from inheriting the throne.

Franz Ferdinand’s political position varied over time, but he was viewed by the Austro – Hungarian establishment as dangerously liberal on the key issue of Slav nationalism.

 

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Above: Franz Ferdinand (1863 – 1914)

 

Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s 28 June 1914 visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia – Herzegovina, was a blunt assertion of imperial authority in the recently annexed province.

Even his timing was provocative:

28 June was a day sacred to Serb nationalists as the anniversary of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, in which a defeat by the Turks had cost Serbia its independence.

 

Above: Battle of Kosovo, Adam Stefanovic

 

Bosnian Serb separatists, who were armed, trained and organized by shadowy nationalist groups and military intelligence officers in Serbia, had been carrying out attacks against the Austro – Hungarian authorities in Bosnia – Herzegovina.

The Austrian government had received specific warning of a planned assassination attempt against the Archduke, but the visit went ahead regardless.

To cancel it or even mount a heavy-handed security operation would have been an admission that the Habsburgs did not fully control one of the provinces in their empire.

The Archduke’s planned route and schedule were publicized in advance of the visit.

 

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Above: Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy (1804 – 1918)

 

 

As the motorcade drove along the quay by the Miljacka River, one of the conspirators, Nedjelko Cabrinovic, threw a bomb that bounced off the back of the Archduke’s car and exploded.

This injured a number of bystanders, including a police officer.

 

Above: The 1911 Gräf & Stift 28/32 Double Phaeton in which Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were riding on 28 June 1914

 

Cabrinovic then swallowed a cyanide pill and jumped into the shallow river, where he was arrested, the cyanide proving non-lethal.

 

Nedeljko Cabrinovic.jpg

Above: Nedeljko Cabrinovic (1896 – 1916)

 

Angered and shocked by the incident, Franz Ferdinand continued making his way to the town hall.

The conspirators dispersed into the crowds, their assassination bid having seemingly ended in failure.

 

Above: Franz Ferdinand and Sophie leaving Sarajevo Town Hall, 28 June 1914

 

Gavrilo Princip (19) went into a delicatessan to buy a sandwich.

Coming out of the shop, Princip found the Archduke’s car stopped directly in front of him.

Franz Ferdinand had decided to visit the injured police officer in hospital, but his driver had taken a wrong turn and was trying to reverse.

Seizing his opportunity, Princip pulled out his pistol and fired twice, hitting the Archduke in the neck and his wife in the abdomen.

 

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“Sophie, Sophie, don’t die!

Stay alive for our children!” were the last words the Archduke spoke.

The couple died within minutes while still in the car.

 

 

Princip tried to kill himself but was overpowered by onlookers and arrested.

 

Above: Gavrilo Princip (1894 – 1918)

 

The news of the couple’s death was a shock to the Habsburg court.

There was no state funeral.

Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were interred side by side in a private crypt at Artstetten Castle in the Danube valley.

 

Above: Arstetten Castle, Austria

 

Emperor Franz Joseph was privately relieved that he would never be succeeded by a nephew he neither liked nor trusted.

A higher power has restored that order which I could unfortunately not maintain.“, the Emperor said.

 

Above: Portrait of Franz Joseph, 1899, Philip de Laszlo

 

But the public affront to the Austro – Hungarian state was gross.

Although there was no clear evidence that the Serbian government had been directly involved, the operation had definitely been planned and organized in Serbia.

The planning of the operation was traced to the head of Serbian military intelligence, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic.

This was enough.

 

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Above: Drazutin Dimitrijevic (1876 – 1917)

 

A band of assassins, with Serbian backing, had killed the heir to the throne.

Austro – Hungary’s honour, prestige and credibility required that Serbia be made to pay.

 

Above: Route of the assassins, Belgrade to Sarajevo, 1914

 

Austro – Hungarian ruling circles were split between warhawks and doves.

Chief of the General Staff Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf had long sought a war with Serbia.

He saw the assassinations as an ideal pretext for military action.

 

Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf (Hermann Torggler, 1915).jpg

Above: Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf (1852 – 1925)

 

Other important figures, including Count István Tisza, Prime Minister of Hungary, were more cautious, preferring a diplomatic solution.

 

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Above: István Tisza (1861 – 1918)

 

In the first week of July 1914, Austria – Hungary sought the opinion of its ally Germany.

Kaiser Wilhelm II had been outraged by the assassinations.

His advisers, including Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann – Hollweg, agreed that Austria – Hungary should be encouraged to take decisive, but unspecified, action against Serbia.

Whatever the Austro – Hungarian government chose to do, it could be assured of Germany’s support.

 

Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg.png

Above: Theobald von Bethmann – Hollweg (1856 – 1921)

 

This loose guarantee of German backing – often referred to as “the blank cheque” – put the warhawks firmly in control of Vienna.

Austria – Hungary then drew up a series of demands deliberately designed to prove unacceptable.

Their rejection by Serbia would provide a pretext for an attack by the Austro – Hungarian army.

 

Flag of Austria–Hungary

Above: Flag of Austria – Hungary (1867 – 1918)

 

No one was planning for a full scale war.

The idea was for a swift punitive invasion followed by a harsh peace settlement to humiliate and permanently weaken Serbia.

However, nothing could happen quickly.

Much of the army was on leave, helping to bring in the harvest.

After some hesitation, the date for delivery of an ultimatum was set for 23 July.

 

Flag of Serbia

Above: Flag of the Kingdom of Serbia (1882 – 1918)

 

On 23 July 1914, at 6pm, the Austro – Hungarian ambassador delivered an ultimatum to the Serbian government, starting the world on the road to war.

The ultimatum demanded that the Serbs suppress anti-Austrian terrorist organizations, stop anti-Austrian propaganda, and allow Austro – Hungarian officials to take part in the investigation of those who were responsible for the Sarajevo assassinations.

The Serbians were given 48 hours to accept the demands of the ultimatum or face war.

Serbia accepted most of them but, assured of support from Russia, rejected outright the idea of Austrian officials operating on Serbian soil.

 

Above: Kingdom of Serbia, 1913

 

Kaiser Wilhelm, returning from his holiday cruise in the North Sea, enthused over the humiliation of Serbia and suggested that war was no longer necessary.

 

 

The dominant elements within the Austro – Hungarian military and political establishment did not want a diplomatic triumph.

They wanted a military victory to dismember Serbia and bolster Habsburg authority.

Thus on 28 July 1914 Austria-Hungary formally declared war on Serbia.

 

 

To stand by while Serbia was defeated by Austria-Hungary would have been a severe humiliation for Russia.

It would have signified the end of the long-nourished ambition to expand Russian influence in the Balkans and towards Istanbul.

So, that same day, Russia declared the mobilization of its armed forces in those regions facing Austria-Hungary.

 

Flag of Imperial Russia

Above: Flag of the Russian Empire (1721 – 1917)

 

Suddenly the great European powers faced the prospect of war spreading to engulf them all.

The insecurity and crises of the last decade had strengthened rival alliances and hardened mutual suspicions.

France and Russia felt that they must stand or fall together.

 

Flag of France

Above: Flag of France

 

On 31 July Kaiser Wilhelm asked his Chief of the General Staff Helmuth von Moltke:

Is the Fatherland in danger?

Moltke answered in the affirmative.

 

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Above: Helmuth von Moltke the Younger (1848 – 1916)

 

On 1 August, Germany declared war on Russia.

 

Flag of German Reich

Above: Flag of the German Empire (1871 – 1918)

 

Britain was a guarantor of Belgian neutrality under the Terms of the 1839 Treaty of London.

To attack Russia’s ally France, Germany’s plan required the army to cross Belgium.

On 2 August, Germany demanded right of passage through Belgium for its troops.

When German troops entered Belgium on 3 August, Britain responded with an ultimatum demanding their withdrawl.

 

Location of Belgium

 

A German declaration of war on France followed on 3 August.

A British declaration of war on Germany followed on 4 August.

The war had officially begun.

 

Political cartoon titled “Der Stänker” (“The Troublemaker“) that was published in the German satirical magazine Kladderadatsch on 9 August 1914, depicting the nations of Europe sitting at a table.
(1st panel) The Central Powers hold their noses in distaste as tiny Serbia joins the table, while Russia reacts with joy.
(2) Serbia stabs Austria-Hungary, to everyone’s apparent shock. Germany immediately offers support to Austria.
(3) Austria demands satisfaction from Serbia, while a relaxed Germany with hands in its pockets doesn’t notice Russia and France come to agreement in the background.
(4) Austria manhandles Serbia, while an alarmed Germany looks to an angry Russia and presumably makes an agreement with the Ottoman Empire, and France tries to talk to Britain.
(5) A general brawl erupts with Germany and France immediately confronting each other, as Britain looks on in dismay. To the right, another combatant threatens to join from the darkness.

 

Upon hearing the news of the assassinations, Andrić decided to leave Kraków (Poland) and return to Bosnia.

Leaving his few belongings with his landlady Andric went straight to the Station.

 

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Above: Kraków Station

 

He travelled by train to Zagreb, and in mid-July, departed for the coastal city of Split with his friend, the poet and fellow South Slav nationalist Vladimir Čerina.

Andrić and Čerina spent the rest of July at the latter’s summer home in Split.

As the month progressed, the two became increasingly uneasy about the escalating political crisis that followed the Archduke’s assassination and eventually led to the outbreak of World War I.

 

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Above: Vladimir Cerina (1891 – 1932)

 

As the years go by, even in the most turbulent of lives, certain phenomena become habitual, occurring in symmetrical and repetitive patterns so that even the most unwilling and barely conscious of souls cannot help but notice them.

And, thus, one can observe his own life in advance.

He knows what October will bring, assuming the same for March, and he can also foresee the summer months.

No spiritual hygiene nor prophylactic measures (which come with time) can be of assistance nor is there any escape or fading into obscurity.

Even the greatest efforts are in vain or of very little assistance.

Diametrically opposed spiritual states, such as fear or dangerous joy or fruitful peace, shift with a calendar-like continuity occurring ineviatably, in line with the changes on Earth.

(Ivo Andric, Signs by the Roadside)

 

Location of Croatia

 

(For a description of Kraków and Zagreb, please see Canada Slim and the Author’s Apartment 1 – Learning.)

 

Split is a city in Central Dalmatia, Croatia, and the seat of the Split-Dalmatia county.

It is one of the Adriatic’s most vibrant cities – an exubrant and hectic place full of shouting stall owners and travellers on the move.

 

Top: Nighttime view of Split from Mosor; 2nd row: Cathedral of Saint Domnius; City center of Split; 3rd row: View of the city from Marjan hill; Night in Poljička Street; Bottom: Riva waterfront

Above: Images of Split

 

At the heart of the city, hemmed in by sprawling estates and a modern harbour, lies the crumbling old town, which grew out of the former Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (a palace/fort built for the retired Roman emperor Diocletian) where the locals sought refuge centuries ago.

The Palace remains the central ingredient in the city’s urban fabric – lived in continuously since Roman times, it has gradually been transformed into a warren of houses, tenements, churches and chapels by the various peoples who came to live here after Diocletian’s successors had departed.

Wandering the historic centre of Split you can still clearly see the Roman walls, squares, and temples.

 

Above: Diocletian’s Palace

 

Modern Split is a city of some 220,000 inhabitants, swolled by post-WWII economic migrants and post-1991 refugees – a chaotic sprawl of hastily planned Suburbs, where factories and highrise blocks jangle together out of an undergrowth of discarded building material.

As Croatia’s second city – (25% of Croatians live in the capital, Zagreb) – Split is a hotbed of regional pride and disparagement of Zagreb dwellers is a frequent component of local banter.

The city’s two big industries – shipbuilding and tourism – suffered immeasureably as a result of war and the economic slump which followed the collapse of communism.

As a result municipal belt-tightening has led to a decline in subsidies for the city’s traditionally rich cultural scene, but this is more than made up for by the vivacious outdoor life that takes over the streets in all but the coldest and wettest months.

 

 

As long as the sun is shining, the swish cafés of the waterfront Riva are never short of custom.

Because of its ideal climate, with 2,800 hours of sunlight each year, local people have a few nicknames for Split:

  • The most beautiful city in the world
  • Mediterranean flower

Winters in Split are generally mild, with temperatures above 0°C, but despite the popular saying that the city experiences snowfall once every 30 years, there is actually at least one snowy day nearly every winter, usually in January or early February.

If you find yourself in Split on a day with significant snowfall, expect serious traffic disruption.

 

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Many famous Croatian sports people were born in Split, so locals often nicknamed their city “The sportiest city in the world“.

The most popular sport institution is the football club Hajduk.

Large portions of the city are painted with the club’s colors and logo.

This is done by Torcida, the oldest supporters group in Europe, established in 1950.

 

HNK Hajduk Split.svg

  • Watch football / soccer at HNK Hajduk Split, Stadion Poljud, Osmih mediteranskih igara.
    • They play in Prva HNL, the top tier of football in Croatia:
      • Indeed they’ve never been out of it and have won it several times.
    • Their home ground of Poljud Stadium (capacity 34,000) is 1 km north of the main bus station, harbour and old city.
    • Don’t go for the cheapest seats as these are in the north stand, the Torcida bastion of home fanatics.

 

Besides the bell tower of St. Duje (Domnius), the symbols of city are the Dalmatian dog and a donkey.

 

Cathedral of Split1.jpg

Above: Cathedral of St. Domnius

  • Katedrala sv. Duje (St. Duje’s Cathedral).
    • Built around 305 AD as a Mausoleum for Roman Emperor Diocletian it is the oldest cathedral building in the world.
    • The cathedral is a very beautiful mixture of Roman temple and Catholic church.
    • It also has a beautiful belltower which provides you a great panoramic view of Split, nearby islands and Marjan Hill.
  • St. Duje’s bell tower.
    • This beautiful bell tower also provides you a great panoramic view of Split, nearby islands and Marjan Hill.
  • Jupiter temple (Cathedral’s baptistry).
    • Ancient Roman temple which became St. John’s Church
  • Climb the campanile bell tower next to the palace mausoleum.
    • The stairs cling to the inside of the tower and in places the steps cross the large open window spaces.
    • The ascent is certainly not for those with vertigo, but the views from the top are marvelous.
    • It costs 10 kn to go up the bell tower.

 

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Locals have a high regard for the donkey because of its past indispensable place in field work and transport across the Dalmatian mountains.

 

Donkey 1 arp 750px.jpg

 

Nothing will ever damage the spirit of the indomitable Splicani themselves who remain famous for their self-depreciating humour, best exemplified by the writings of Miljenko Smoje (1923 – 1995), a native of the inner City district of Veli Varos.

Smoje’s books, written in Dalmatian dialect, document the lives of an imaginary group of local archetypes and brought the wit of the Splicani to a nationwide audience.

 

Miljenko Smoje.jpg

Above: Miljenko Smoje

 

An adaptation of his works, Nase male misto (Our Little Town), was the most popular comedy programme in Croatian – and probably Yugoslav – television history.

 

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The city’s tradition of irreverence lived on in the weekly newspaper and national institution Feral Tribune, a mixture of investigative reporting and scathing political satire which was a thorn in the side of successive administrations.

 

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Above: 1995 copy of the Feral Tribune (1984 – 2008)

 

As I have said, the historic centre of Split is built around the remains of the Roman palace.

  • The historic core of Split with Diocletian palace is among the first urban complexes to enter the list of the UNESCO world heritage in year 1979.
    • This one of a kind Imperial Palace was built from 298-305 AD and is one of the most significant original structures of the period mostly because so much of it has been preserved.
    • Later this Palace contributed to the broadening of the town because as the city evolved beyond its walls.
    • The unique substructure halls were newly explored and each year more of them are opened to the public.
    • Fascinating artefacts on display.

You only need to wander around to experience it but you can also pay to visit the excavated remains of the basement of the palace.

The palace has well preserved main streets.

Roman palace is enriched with some gothic and reinassance buildings which makes a perfect match.

The palace has four monumental gates:

  • Porta Aurea (Golden Gate)
  • Porta Argenta (Silver Gate)
  • Porta Ferrea (Iron Gate)
  • Porta Aenea

 

Above: The Silver Gate

 

Diocletian’s palace is probably the best preserved Roman palace in the world.

  • Peristylium (Peristil square).
    • Main square of Diocletian’s palace with well preserved Roman architecture

 

Peristyle, Split 1.jpg

 

  • Two original Egyptian sphinxes
    • One is located on Peristil square and the other in front of Jupiter’s temple or St. John’s church.
    • They were brought from Egypt by Roman emperor Diocletian.

 

 

  • Basement halls of Diocletian’s Palace
    • Exceptionally well preserved substructure of Diocletian’s Palace now open as a museum.
    • One of the locations in Game of Thrones.

 

Game of Thrones title card.jpg

 

Getski vrtal is the smallest park in Split, situated in the Diocletian’s palace at the Dominisova street.

During the summer the lanes and alleys here are full of clothes drying in the sunshine.

In every guidebook about Split are pictures from the Getski vrtal.

 

Riva is the main city promenade.

  • Since 2007, Riva has a new, modern appearance, which isn’t up to the taste of some who used to its authentic look.

 

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  • Marjan – a hill situated on the west of Split, it is an oasis for many people who look for a natural stress relief, a great place for long walks, jogging, and bike rides.
    • Marjan’s peak, Telegrin, is 174 m high and gives a wonderful panoramic view of Split.
    • The south cliffs are popular within alpine climbers.
    • St. Nicholas Church is situated on the east of Marjan.
    • On its south side are the beautiful St. Jeronimus church and the “Gospe od Betlema” Church (Madonna of Bethlehem).
    • House building is strictly forbidden in order to save Marjan – the lungs of Split.

 

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  • Veli Varoš – one of the oldest parts of town is the place where most of the city peasants and fishermen lived.
    • Charming streets and beautiful small houses.

 

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  • Galerija Meštrović.
    • The gallery contains works of Ivan Meštrović, a famous Croatian sculptor.

 

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Ivan Meštrovic.jpg

Above: Ivan Meštrović (1883 – 1962)

 

  • Archaeological Museum.
    • The oldest museum in Croatia (1820), about 20 min walk north of the old town (entry 20 kn).
    • Many artifacts and monuments from Roman colonies Salona and Narona.

 

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  • Old graveyards
    • Sustipan Memorial Park

 

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    • The old Jewish Cemetery

 

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  • Split city beach
    • Continue south past the bus station, follow the road which goes by the tracks, and from the bridge over the tracks you can take a stairs down to the beach.
    • If you have a longer stop-over in Split, 5 mins south of the passenger terminal and the train and bus stations lies Split’s city beach where you can take a plunge in the Adriatic.
    • Sunbathe and swim on the beach at Bačvice.
      • To reach this beach walk south along the waterfront from the bus station and then follow the road that crosses the railway line.
      • There are many cafes and places to eat ice cream.
      • This is certainly not the best beach in Croatia (it is packed solid most of summer), but it will give you a feeling of ‘real‘ Croatia as the vast majority of people who go there are from Split.

 

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Above: Bacvice Beach

  • Picigin, Bačvice.
    • Traditional beach game with a small ball (Bačvice Beach).
    • In summer every year there is a world championship of picigin.

 

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  • Green Market (Pazar).
    • Split’s Pazar is the place to go for a variety of wares such as fruits and veggies, clothing and other odds and ends.
    • Lots of local colour and excitement

 

 

  • Grgur Ninski.
    • It is said that if you touch the big toe of the statue and make a wish your wish will come true.

 

Andric and Cerina then went to Rijeka, where Čerina left Andrić without explanation, only saying he urgently needed to go to Italy.

Several days later, Andrić learned that Čerina was being sought by the police who had come to the offices of the paper where he had worked in Zagreb.

 

Rijeka Riva.jpg

Above: Rijeka Harbour

 

Vladimir Cerina (1891 – 1932) had written for the Val and Vihor magazines, where he railed against Austria-Hungary and the Magyars.

He took part in organizing the assassination of Slavko Cuvaja.

At the end of WWI Cerina was disappointed with the accomplishment of Yugoslavia.

Mentally disturbed Cerina was placed into a mental hospital in Sibenik where he died.

He belongs to the rebellious and talented young Croatian writers who have been critical of Croatia’s political and social circumstances since the beginning of the 20th century.

 

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Rijeka (“River“) is a city in Kvarner Bay, a northern inlet of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.

It is the principal seaport of the country.

It had about 129,000 inhabitants in 2011, with the greater city area reaching up to 200,000, and is Croatia’s third largest city.

The city of Rijeka is a unique cosmopolitan city with a very turbulent history, especially during the 20th century.

For instance, Rijeka was ruled by eight different countries between 1918 and 1991, so theoretically, a citizen of Rijeka born in 1917 could have had eight different passports without ever leaving the city limits.

Such rapid changes of events led to a strong local identity for the city.

Rijeka is a major Croatian port, in the very heart of Kvarner Gulf.

Because of its location, Rijeka is a crossroads of land and sea routes, connected with the rest of the world by air, bus, train and ship lines.

Despite often being described as a predominantly industrial and port city, Rijeka is an interesting city with beautiful architecture of mostly secession style, a good choice of museums and quality night-life.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Rijeka was one of the main European ports and had weekly passenger service to and from New York.

 

RijekaUckapano.jpg

 

The famous ship Carpathia, which saved most of the survivors from the Titanic, was heading from New York to Rijeka, and most of the crew on the ship was Croatian.

 

RMS Carpathia.jpg

Above: The RMS Carpathia

 

Thanks to that, one of the lifeboats from the Titanic is preserved in the Rijeka Naval Museum.

 

Above: The RMS Titanic

"Untergang der Titanic", a painting showing a big ship sinking with survivors in the water and boats

Above: Untergang der Titanic, Willy Stöwer, 1912

 

Rijeka was also the first fascist state in the world before Mussolini’s Italy or Hitler’s German Reich.

A mixture of fascism, anarchism and elements of dadaism was the basis for the constitution of Reggenza Italiana del Carnaro (Italian Regency of Kvarner), a short-lived state created in 1919, after a coup d’etat of Italian war veterans led by Gabriele D’Annunzio, often called the pioneer of fascism.

 

Flag of Carnaro

Above: Flag of the Regency of Carnaro (1919 – 1920)

 

Gabriele D'Anunnzio.png

Above: Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863 – 1938)

 

(For more about Gabriele D’Annuzio, please see Canada Slim and the Shrine of Italian Victories of this blog.)

 

To make it more awkward, this unusual state was the first international state that recognized Lenin’s USSR.

 

Flag of the Soviet Union

Above: Flag of the Soviet Union (USSR)(1922 – 1991)

 

(For more on Lenin and the Russian Revolution, please see Canada Slim and….

  • the Zimmerwald Movement
  • the Forces of Darkness
  • the Apostle of Violence
  • the Dawn of Revolution
  • the Bloodstained Ground
  • the Sealed Train

….of this blog.)

 

On the bright side, from 1920 to 1924, Rijeka was an independent neutral state, a status that provided Rijeka with independence and neutrality.

The official languages in the Free State of Fiume were Croatian, Italian and Hungarian, in order to provide maximum care for all minorities in the city.

 

Flag of Fiume

Above: Flag of the Free State of Fiume (1920 – 1924)

 

Woodrow Wilson, President of United States, recommended Rijeka in 1919 as a headquarters of the League of Nations.

 

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1919.jpg

Above: Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924), 28th US President (1913 – 1921)

 

Flag of League of Nations

Above: Flag of the League of Nations (1920 – 1946)

 

After the Second World War, Rijeka was one of the candidates for hosting the headquarters of the United Nations.

The idea was to reintroduce the Independent State of Rijeka as a special United Nations neutral state.

 

Flag of the United Nations

Above: Flag of the United Nations

 

Rows of cumbrous cranes and rusty, sea-stained tankers front the soaring apartment blocks of this Croatia’s largest port.

Rijeka (pronounced ree-acre) is a down-to-earth industrial city, a major ferry terminal along the Adriatic coast and an unavoidable transit point if you are travelling through the region by bus.

Rijeka is far from beautiful, but it is the northern Adriatic’s only true metropolis with a reasonable number of attractions and an appealing urban buzz.

 

 

Modern Rijeka is actually made from two original cities that were separated by river Rječina.

On the west was Fiume or Rijeka and on the east Sušak, the rival counterpart of Rijeka mostly inhabited by Croatians and most of the 19th and early 20th century under Yugoslavian or Croatian administrative rule.

Those two cities were merged in 1945.

To symbolically connect the city, a wide pedestrian bridge was built in front of Hotel Kontinental which was turned into a square.

 

 

Most people are not aware that there is actually a river under this wide square.

It is a popular place for meeting and socializing, especially for the younger generations.

Coming to Rijeka, you are joining the list of people, together with Che Guevara, James Joyce, Franz Liszt, Dora Maar, Enrico Caruso, Benito Mussolini, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Josip Jelačić, Bobby Fischer, Saddam Husein, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Johnny Weissmueller, Pope John Paul II and many others, that have been in Rijeka before.

Rijeka will be a “European Capital of Culture” for 2020, an honour it shares with Galway.

 

 

The best way to see Rijeka’s cultural and historical monuments is to follow the tourist path that gathers all of the most important sights for this town and its history.

Most of them are accessible by foot, as they are mostly located in or near the city centre, but to see Trsat Castle you will need to take a short car/bus ride.

Other option, the more adventurous one, is to climb the 561 Trsat stairs that lead from city centre to Trsat.

Trsat Castle is worth the effort.

  • Trsat Castle represents a strategically embossed gazebo on a hill 138 meters above sea level that dominates Rijeka.
    • As a parochial centre it was mentioned for the first time in 1288.
    • Trsat Castle is one of the oldest fortifications on the Croatian Coast, where the characteristics of the early medieval town construction have been preserved.
    • Today Trsat Castle, beside the souvenir shop and the coffee shop, is enriched with new facilities – gallery space where art exhibitions are held as well as open-air summer concerts and theatre performances, fashion shows and literary evenings.

Trsat, 24.6.2006. (1).jpg

  • City Tower (Gradski Toranj)
    • A symbol of Rijeka and a good example of a typical round tower Access point, which leads into the fortified town.
    • Today it dominates the central part of Korzo and is often used as a meeting place for local people.

 

  • Our Lady of Trsat’s Sanctuary
    • This is the largest centre of pilgrimage in western Croatia.
    • It is famous for its numerous concessions and for the pilgrimages by numerous believers throughout the year, and especially on the Assumption of Mary holiday.

  • Treasury and Gallery of Our Lady of Trsat’s Sanctuary
    • The monastery treasury holds works of extraordinary esthetic and material value, paintings, reliquaries, lamps, chalices, ecclesiastical robes, while the Chapel of Votive Gifts houses gifts since the 19th century.