The Burghers of Calais

Several years ago I visited the campus of Standord University in California. I was intrigued with these sculptures of Rodin. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with the entire story behind them. Blogging is so educational!

These six men represent the Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais).

 

In 1885 the town council of the French city of
Calais commissioned Rodin to produce a
sculpture that would pay tribute to the
burghers of Calais, heroes of the Hundred
Years’ War and symbols of French patriotism.
~ ~ ~ ~
Rodin chooses to portray the moment in the
narrative when the men, believing they are
going to die, leave the city. He shows the
burghers as vulnerable and conflicted, yet
heroic in the face of their likely fate.

(Two excerpts from “THE STORY OF THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS”)

Most of the time, these men are portrayed in a cluster. Here on the Stanford campus, they are shown in separate bronze castings (1981). These were not from the original, however. By law, only a small number were made from the original after Rodin’s death. Here is a casting of Rodin’s signature.

 

Calais is an important French port on the English Channel. In 1347, during the Hundred Years’ War, Calais had been under siege for over a year by the English. Due to starvation, King Philip VI of France was not able to hold onto Calais. King Edward III of England said he would “spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed.”

Eustache de Saint-Pierre volunteered to be first. Five others followed.

 

They walked out wearing nothing but their “breeches” (underwear) with nooses around their necks. Jean Froissart (circa 1337-1400) wrote the story in his Chroniques that relate historical events of that era as he saw them.

The figure in the final monument portrays Pierre de Wiessant looking over his shoulder, his hand extended as if in despair. His face shows great anguish, and his intense emotions make him appear withdrawn from the other figures.
http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg34.html

 

As we confront Jean d’Aire, we find ourselves focusing on the self-absorbed quality of the figure and gradually, almost without our awareness, we come to realize that we are confronting the unheroic, complex human being that is ourselves. http://www2.davidson.edu/academics/acad_depts/art/facilities/jeandaire.html

 

Although Froissart does not mention Andrieu d’Andres in his Chroniques, the name of this man was uncovered in 1863. The figure is shown “already clutching his head in despair.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Jacques de Wiessant was Pierre’s brother, and the fourth burgher to volunteer. Rodin gives his “his final gesture, the raised arm.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Rodin assumed Jean de Fiennes to be the youngest of the six burghers. . . . The burgher’s expression is very doubting as if he has not quite accepted his seemingly imminent fate. http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg33.html

 

It was this moment, and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death that Rodin captured in his sculpture, scaled somewhat larger than life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais

 

Philippa of Hainault, England’s Queen, was expecting a child and she convinced her husband not to execute the men, claiming that “their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.”

A remarkable incident in history – and a stunning set of sculptures for Stanford University, located in Memorial Court at the entrance to the Main Quad and Stanford Memorial Church.

For more of Rodin’s work, you might like to visit the Rodin Sculpture Garden, located off the Palm Drive entrance to Stanford University.

A hui hou!

Gardening As Art

One of my intentions since the beginning of this blog almost three years ago has been to show readers what some of our local residents have managed to create on their acreage, and what they are doing to make it livable as well as beautiful. If you want to see some of these past posts, go through the categories on the right hand column of this blog.

The Southern end of the Big Island of Hawaii is not exactly the luxurious tropical atmosphere most people envision when they think of Hawaii. Here, every bloom is nurtured and prized, every square inch is utilized as much as possible.

Many of my posts talk of the challenges we face when we try to garden on our a`a lava. It is a constant process of finding which plants will survive during drought or heavy rain, coping with toxic air full of sulfur dioxide from the volcano, sheltering our plants from the strong trade winds, and working with minimum soil that we (mostly) need to make ourselves out of compost.

Little by little, our lava beds can become works of art. Recently, our Ocean View Garden Club visited another local property that exemplifies the creativity that is possible here, in spite of harsh circumstances. Plant art, found art, junque art – all are at home here and work together to form an oasis of beauty.

Click here to view a slide show of what is possible when creative minds are put to work.

A hui hou!

Gardening From A to Z

Two of my favorite landscapers (Bob and Monty) invited a group of us “tree huggers” to come tour their garden. Since the land on their property is much like that of Ocean View, I gathered lots of how-to ideas on what to grow and what not to grow.

Their elevation is about the same as mine (2300 feet), same rocky lava ground, with perhaps a little more rainfall than I receive, although everyone is experiencing the drought now. Even without much rain this year, my first impression of their acreage was very tropical, what mainlanders picture as being “Hawai`i.”

Since I have said this post is about gardening from A to Z, I suppose I’d better start with A. The rest of the alphabet will be mixed up, however, and maybe I’ll end up at Z!

I love these large deep blue Agapanthus, shown here in front of Stromanthe. The Agapanthus in my garden is smaller and more of a baby blue.

The guys have concentrated their efforts on saving the native Hawai`ian trees, like this tall ‘Ohe Makai by their gate. Like many of the Hawai`ian natives, this particular tree is on the endangered list.

A couple of other native plants they have growing are the Ulei or Hawaiian Rose . . .

. . . and the Hala Pepe.

According to Wikipedia, there are seven native Hawaiian hibiscus species. The striking native white hibiscus is one of those.

Monty’s primary interest seems to be the palms. Soft paths through the palms were everywhere.

I lost track of how many varieties of palms we saw. It seemed like we walked for miles through palm groves.

What rests below the top layer of rocks is one of the factors we all deal with here. If the drainage is stopped by a solid layer of lava, plants don’t grow well. Of those palms planted at the same time, some are quite tall, and others look like they have never grown, due to this layer that hinders root growth.

This Fishtail Palm could be one of the largest of its kind. They are rapid growers and intimidate all the other palms.

No tropical garden is complete without its anthurium plants. . .

. . . or ginger . . .

. . . or banana. This particular banana is not common. (Dare I say it’s “rare”?) It puts out two stalks of bananas each time. If you look closely, you can see them. Even the keiki (babies) that come up after the mama plant has died have the double growth.

Bob tells the story of them going to a nursery in Pahoa to buy a rhododendron, and came home with 39 of them! He said to place the plant on top of the lava, then mound cinder around it. The roots will go down between the big rocks and the small feeder roots will spread out into the cinder. I’m going to try (just) one, I think.

Spots of color were scattered throughout the acreage.

Tucked here and there were other familiar plants, such as donkey tail, ti plants, butterfly bush, and stromanthe.

We saw a few familiar plants in a variety that weren’t as typical as what we have in our own gardens, like this tri-colored jade and variegated monstera.

There were several healthy specimens of staghorn fern.

Various protea are usually found in our tropical gardens, like these banksia (not in bloom at this time), king and pincushion proteas shown here.

For me, one of the most stunning flowers was the passion flower, not the same as the lilikoi we normally have growing.

It seems everyone is suffering from either drought, effects of vog, or critters like rats, sheep, pigs, caliche pheasants. A few veggies are still producing here.

I particularly loved the delicate little “society garlic.” I was given a few small bulbs to bring home and plant. The flower can be tossed into a salad and the flavor is heavenly. My car probably still smells like garlic (not an unpleasant odor for me)!

Bob said his primary passion is xeriscaping, which is designed to reduce the amount of water generally needed for growth. That means succulents and other drought-resistant plants. I have some of these in my own garden, and I plan to do more.

At the entryway to their home are these lovely cycads, both male and female. Need I point out which is which? It’s the biggest one, of course. (smile)

I started this post with A=Agapanthus. Even though this bromeliad is called “tiger-striped bromeliad, I’ll pretend it’s a Z=Zebra-striped bromeliad to keep with the alphabet theme. (Don’t tell on me!)

A touch of serenity concludes the tour.

Enjoy this slideshow for more pictures than I could include in this post, and for individual shots of those plants I’ve made into a collage.

Click here to view the slideshow. If it takes you to a web page instead of the slide show, click on “slideshow” in the upper left hand corner.

A hui hou!

Boise Gardening

 

As I work in my own garden, I watch some plants thrive while others struggle for survival. So I love to see the gardens other people put together.

 

In the past, I’ve written about my daughter’s small historic home in Boise, Idaho. I’ve shown her garden as it makes the seasonal transitions through snow and spring. Each time I see her newest pictures I get ideas and inspiration.

 

When she visited me here in Hawai`i this past spring, she installed the beginnings of a new drip system, which I was able to expand over the following months. Now, even though it might be a lost cause here on my lava field, I’m trying to figure out how I can put in a brick patio!

 

People talk about edible gardens, but my daughter has taken it to a new level. Without a lot of front yard space, she utilizes the space between her downtown sidewalk and the street to great advantage. How in the world does she keep anyone from helping themselves?

 

I have a couple of blueberry bushes in my garden that were designed for subtropical climates, but they don’t look nearly as healthy as these.

 

Every spare inch of space is used for flowers, veggies and herbs.

 

Looks like she has an eager helper.

 

Even fruit trees have found their home in her tiny garden!

 

I really do envy her little lean-to greenhouse.

 

She recently added a roof overhang for her patio so she can sit in the shade and sip tea while her drip system does the watering for her. I don’t have pictures of that yet, but I’m sure you will see those soon. In the meantime, enjoy this stroll through a small garden in Boise.

 

A hui hou!

An English Spring

DAFFODILS IN ST. JAMES PARK, LONDON
click here for larger image
DAFFODILS IN ST. JAMES PARK, LONDON

 

Four years ago during my Spring Break, plus a few days, I traveled to England with a friend. Although it was very cold, especially to someone fresh from Hawai’i, there was no rain for the three weeks we spent there.

These photos will be in three sections. The first group was taken in London, in and near St. James Park. As you can see above, the daffodils in England are a brilliant herald of Spring. They are some of the first flowers to be seen.

MORE SPRING DAFFODILS IN LONDON
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MORE SPRING DAFFODILS IN LONDON

 

They were in large clumps everywhere I looked.

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE DAFFODILS
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ANOTHER VIEW OF THE DAFFODILS

 

Of course, there were more flowers in bloom than just daffodils. Tucked here and there one could find these lavender beauties.

MORE LONDON BEAUTY
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MORE LONDON BEAUTY

 

Here is another view in St. James Park with its carpet of blooms.

CARPET OF BLOOMS
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CARPET OF BLOOMS

 

If you rest on a park bench by the river to feed the squirrels or have a cup of hot coffee and warm up, you will see the “old man willow.”

OLD MAN WILLOW
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OLD MAN WILLOW

 

This second section shows our drive through the Cotswolds, visiting such places as Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare country). Again, there were early blooms poking through the cold ground in little hidden spots.

EARLY SPRING IN THE COTSWOLDS
click here for larger image
EARLY SPRING IN THE COTSWOLDS

 

Of course, who among us doesn’t love the romantic sight of a thatched roof? It brings back memories of “Merrie Olde England,” doesn’t it? There are a few flowers blooming along the road in front of this home.

THATCHED ROOF COTTAGE
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THATCHED ROOF COTTAGE

 

Mostly we drove along narrow roads lined with bare hedges, and through the narrow winding streets of the villages.

ENGLISH HEDGEROWS
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ENGLISH HEDGEROWS

 

The fences were made out of the yellow limestone so common in Cotswold country.

LIMESTONE FENCES
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LIMESTONE FENCES

 

For the third part of our journey, we drove toward the English Channel and the White Cliffs of Dover. One of the English women I’ve come to learn about is the novelist Vita Sackville-West. A visit to her home in Kent (Sissinghurst Castle) took us through her “white garden,” even though very little was blooming. If you are interested in seeing her gardens in full bloom, go here.

 

The English spring daffodils were in full bloom here, too.

DAFFODILS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE
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DAFFODILS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE

 

And narcissus….

NARCISSUS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE
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NARCISSUS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE

 

In every corner of her gardens you are invited to rest and meditate.

A PLACE TO MEDITATE
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A PLACE TO MEDITATE

 

I love to fantasize about what it would be like to live in an English home like this one. I can imagine the novelist working out in her gardens (when she wasn’t writing), then sitting on the bench against a warm wall to view her results, cup of tea in hand.

HOME OF VITA SACKVILLE-WEST
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HOME OF VITA SACKVILLE-WEST

 

There are pictures of Sissinghurst in bloom on this website, as well as a different view of her home. I spied these blooms climbing up the end of her home.

CLIMBING VINES
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CLIMBING VINES

 

Sometimes you are left with the feeling that she has just paused in her planting. These beds are ready for the new annuals to be put out. Because her gardens and castle are part of the National Trust, I’m sure there are gardeners who still carry on her “white” theme each year.

BEDS READY FOR PLANTING
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BEDS READY FOR PLANTING

 

Here is another cluster of color along one of the winding paths.

CLUSTER OF COLOR
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CLUSTER OF COLOR

 

There was a moat that surrounded one area with a boathouse under the bridge. The boat was still there! In the background you can see the roof of one of the oast houses, used for drying hops to make their brew.

MOAT
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MOAT

 

I’d love to go back to visit Sissinghurst sometime when it comes back to life in the early summer. Someday I will get to do that.

A hui hou!

San Mateo in Bloom

ROSES ON A PICKET FENCE
ROSES ON A PICKET FENCE

 

I hope you aren’t sick and tired of seeing photos out of California. Even though I lived there for many years, I had forgotten how brilliant the flowers could be. Part of the time I was there for my May-June visit, I stayed with friends who live in San Mateo. We walked all over their neighborhood and I was stunned by the abundance of beautiful roses. The geraniums are like weeds in California!

Please enjoy the photos! There isn’t much I can add about them, so I’ve put them here in a slide show for you.

 

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

I suggest that you go here to get the slideshow in a larger version and get the full benefit of the beauty.