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Kamelienblüte Schloss Pillnitz, Frühlingsanfang 2019

22 Mar

The camellia in Pillnitz is around 230 years old, almost 9 m high and 11 m in diameter. From February to April it is covered in carmin red flowers. During the cold season, the tree, which was planted in 1801 by court gardener Terscheck, is
protected by a large glass house with stairs. During this time visitors can enter and view the tree from two levels.

In the mid 19th century Dresden became a European hot spot for the culture and breeding of camellias, and exported them to Russia as well as Italy and Spain. The camelia was viewed as a status symbol among European aristocrats, and Russians in particular, had a high demand for camellia flowers, which were exported in thousands to St. Petersburg and Moscow.

With growing popularity among Westerners, and contrary to its Far Eastern symbolism, the meaning of the flower changed. Thanks to popular literature, most prominently La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas from 1848, as well as real life personae, such as the “Wiener Cameliendame”, a dancer named Fanny Elßler, the camellia became erotizised!

On the other hand the longevity of the flowers, and particulary white camellia flowers, became associated with death and mourning and were woven into funeral wreaths.

The seeds of all known (about 200) camellia seeds yield a valuable oil, which smoothes the hair and juvenates the skin. The oil is rhich in linolenic acid, and is also used in cooking and reduces cholesterine. Samurai rubbed camellia oil unto their sword blades to protect them from rust. The oil is also used as a natural surface finish for wood, as lube in watches and precision engineering and more.

Camellia wood is hard and durable and was used in the manufacture of weapons, different tools as well as kokeshi dolls. Up to the Edo period, a camellia rod was used in Buddhist ceremony to punish and drive out malign spirits. The wood also yielded a spark-free and, hence sought after charcoal.

Camellias are highly resitant against diseases and may contain differnt antibacterial and fungicidal agents.

Besides, the first Westerner to portrait a camellia flower was likely a Saxon gardener by the name George Meister. His book “Der Orientalisch-Indianische Kunst- und Lust-Gärtner” was published in 1692 in Dresden. In it he describes both the camellia as well as its crop plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis – the tea shrub!

Further Reading:
https://kamelienschloss.de/botanische-sammlung/kamelien/geschichte-verwendung-von-kamelien/
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillnitzer_Kamelie
https://www.schlosspillnitz.de/de/schloss-park-pillnitz/kamelie/

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Nordfriedhof, January 2019

23 Jan

Nordfriedhof Düsseldorf, January 11th, 2019

Gallery

Botanical Garden Düsseldorf

8 May

Japanischer Garten / Nordpark, Düsseldorf

3 May

3 weeks ago I moved to Düsseldorf. One of the first things we explored was the Nordpark and Japanischer Garten, while the cherry trees were still in bloom.

Abandoned Park in Spring – The Fuming Womb

11 Apr

Old ash and yew trees in an abandoned park from the 19th century

The trees grow atop arranged rocks, underneath is hidden a small cave. The park’s landscape has once been planned carefully and in alignment with prominent buildings, such as the steeple of the Auferstehungskirche. Channels once lead water through the protracted park scape, which stretches along the Weißeritz river. Most of the paths and arranged parts are overgrown and the original park’s landscape is only slowly re-emerging, due to the thoughtful work of conservationists. Thus are revealed oddities such as gnarly, half dead – half alive trees and previously hidden pathways…

Herbs such as hollowroot (Corydalis cava), wood squill (Scilla sibirica) and thimbleweed (Anemone nemorosa) are currently in bloom, covering the grounds in purple, blue and white. As the sun was setting, I did an incense offering between the base of the stems of two ash trees, which are merged by their roots, observing the smoke rising from the womb formed between both trees and watching the sun go down…