Daffodil Project

Central Park New York
Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil  ( botanic name   narcissus ) is virtually synonymous with spring.   The Daffodil Project  with nearly six million  free bulbs planted citywide by more than 100,000   is one of the largest volunteer efforts in the  history of New York.
Echo and Narcissus  by John William Waterhous

The common name     Daffodil  is  derived from “Affodell", referring to the genus Asphodelus.   In Greek legend the asphodel is one of the most famous of the plants connected with the dead and the underworld. Homer describes it as covering the great meadow , the haunt of the dead.
Another name of the flower is   Narcissus. The myth of Narcissus is one of the most known Greek Myths.    Narcissus was  beautiful that upon seeing his own reflection in a pool of water, became mesmerized.  Unable to leave the beauty of his own reflection he died. The flower  that grew from the ground where he died that was named Narcissus.

For all time,   the daffodil has inspired   poets.    William Wordsworth, the legendary British poet, perhaps said it best when he wrote of the flowers in his classic poem, "Daffodils", published in 1804.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Daffodils have been cultivated from the earliest times, but became  popular in Europe   by the late 19th century.    The Daffodil is symbolic in many cultures.  In Germany the Daffodil is connected with Easter, as it is commonly called Osterglocke, or “Easter bell.” Being able to coax a Daffodil to bloom during the Chinese New Year is considered to be a symbol of coming wealth in China. In the United States they’re a symbol of rebirth and spring. 

 Narcissus species found growing throughout America today were brought over from Europe by the early colonists .   There are now more than  10 million of the flowers in New York.
In September 2001 several days after the terrorist attack  Daffodil Project was started in New York. Dutch flower supplier Hans van Waardenburg and the city of Rotterdam sent 1 million bulbs to the Big Apple. In the Autumn following the attacks, more than 10,000 volunteers joined   the Project. 

Daffodils in Netherland

 Hans van Waardenburg company, B&K Flowerbulbs, has continued to supply flowers which has lead to one of the largest volunteer projects in New York City history.
In  2007 Mayor Bloomberg named the daffodil the official flower of New York City . “I am pleased to announce that the daffodil has been selected as the official flower of the City of New York,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This flower has earned the distinction. The Daffodil Project makes the City a more beautiful place every year, and brings us all together by serving as a living memorial to the victims of September 11.”
Each fall, New Yorkers for Parks distributes hundreds of thousands of daffodil bulbs to New Yorkers in all five boroughs. The bulbs are free to anyone who commits to planting them in a park or public space. Maybe next time you will be the volunteer?

Bryant Park

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival, New York 2016

For the third year in a row I spend Easter Sunday on Fifth Avenue. This annual tradition has been taking place in New York City for over 100 years. This parade doesn't have any floats or marching bands. From around the world people come to New York City to participate. Outfits range from elegant to outrageous.   A 15th-century proverb from Poor Robin's Almanack, an English 17th and 18th-century satirical almanac series,  states that if on Easter Sunday some part of one's outfit is not new, one will not enjoy good luck during the year, "At Easter let your clothes be new, or else be sure you will it rue."
 Here in my old post  you can find some facts about the history of the parade and pictures of 2014.
 And here I published  2015 pictures .
And now enjoy the pictures of 2016!


Macy’s flower show 2016

The Macy's Flower   Festival in New York features flowers from around the world, placed by expert florists, all over the store. Macy’s   is  the largest department store company in the country.   Macy’s Inc., now a nationwide conglomerate of over 700 stores, began over 100 years ago as the R.H. Macy and Company Store.    It has occupied its Herald Square location in the center of New York  since 1902, a building that was named a National Historic Landmark back in 1978 and carries with a storied past. 
Macy’s Flower Show began in 1946 in San Francisco originally as a festival of fragrances with displays of potted plants and orchids intended to promote a cosmetics department fragrance.   

In New York , Macy’s Flower Show premiered in 1953. The show displayed fresh floral bouquets throughout the store. For the next 25 years, show attendees of the Macy’s Herald Square Flower Show entered a traditional English country-style garden through mock wrought iron estate gates installed on the Broadway side of the store. In  1966 the show was canceled because maintaining cut flowers was costly and time consuming. Eight years late the Flower  Show returned  to Herald Square .  The show theme remained unchanged until 2002, when it began focusing on high-concept, theatrical themes.

"Our annual celebration of spring this year will take us on a journey through our own backyards, one that is rich with magnificent landscapes that evolve from desert to tropics and everything in between,” said Mike Gansmoe, executive producer of Macy’s Flower Show. “America the Beautiful, this year’s theme, will give spectators the incredibly unique opportunity to experience highlights of the varied natural landscapes found in our nation, all at one location, blooming in unison.”

A  rotating list  of designers  creates    “Bouquet of the Day”, an extravagant centerpiece uniquely fashioned by each designer to interpret the show’s America the Beautiful theme.   

 The center of  Macy’s Flower Show 2016 in New York is  a unique floral interpretation of Lady Liberty’s iconic torch.
  It is now difficult to imagine the New York Harbor without Statue of Liberty-  this iconic American symbol.  The statue was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States.

The statue’s torch-bearing right arm and head were constructed before the rest of the statue, and were exhibited in both France and the United States in the 1870s in order to aid in fundraising.

The torch has undergone three redesigns. Original design of the flame was for it to be constructed of copper and clad in gold. But the design was changed - the statue was planned to be used as a lighthouse.    The torch  was first changed so that portholes could be added and it could appear to be lit from within. But the light was too dim  to be effective. Later  Gutzon Borglum,  American artist and sculptor, who    is mostly  associated with his creation of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial at Mount Rushmore,  South Dakota,   made the second change by adding glass panels and copper framing. This design leaked terribly and caused further deterioration within the statue. Finally, as part of the 1986 restoration project, Bartholdi's original flame design was recreated and installed and is visible today.

"For the iconic garden, we replicated the Statue of Liberty torch and that alone took 9,000 blooms," said Mike Gansmoe, the executive producer of the show. "It takes a year and about 100 people working on it from concept to final execution,"
The show run through April 3, 2016

John Jovino Gun Shop, the oldest gun shop still in operation in US.

New York City usually doesn't come to mind when one thinks of gun stores- hand gun laws in New York State  are the most strict in the nation.    In Manhattan there is only one shop where you can buy a gun. For more than 100 years the store known for its iconic revolver sign has operated in lower Manhattan.  John Jovino Gun Shop has been a fixture of the Grand Street block that connects Chinatown and Little Italy since it opened in 1911.  It claims to be the oldest gun shop still in operation in the United States.

According to Wikipedia, the original owner, John Jovino, sold the store to the Imperato family in the 1920s. The New York Times, in a 2003 article, quoted Anthony Imperato as the store's owner,  who also own Henry Repeating Arms, firearms manufacturing company, one of the top five long gun manufacturers in the United States.

Anthony Imperato, CEO of the  Henry Repeating Arms said a year ago in one of his interviews: “We sold around 300 thousand lever guns last year.  To put that into perspective, Henry Repeating Rifles’ sales rose 20 percent in 2014".
Charles Hu , a native of Shanghai   manages the store now.  Charles Hu was part of the first group of government-sponsored Chinese students studying abroad in the early 1980s. After receiving his American citizenship, he  worked as a media manager at the China Press newspaper in New York and as a New York City policeman before becoming the general manager of the store.
Most of the eligible  buyers  are police or foreign diplomats, as New York City has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation, with permits to carry a handgun even more difficult to qualify for.
 A spokesperson at the NYPD's licensing division
said that a basic license to buy a pistol and keep it at home usually takes from four to six months and requires an extensive background check and usually a personal interview. After the purchase, the owner has to bring the weapon to the NYPD within 72 hours for registration.
 The store  has five employees.    With sales mostly to law enforcement and some licensed gun owners it  reportedly does $1 million in sales annually.
Village Voce wrote in 2007: A study by Columbia professor Howard Andrews once cited the shop as one of the biggest suppliers of guns used in New York City crimes. Of the 11,700 guns recovered in criminal investigations from 1996 to 2000, the study found, 102 were purchased at Jovino. Only two Virginia gun shops beat that tally, and they've both been shut down, papers reported in 2003. As many other places in New York, you can see the
shop in the movie.  In "Serpico", Al Pacino visits John Jovino's Gunshop to add a little more firepower to his self-defense system.   Towards the end of the film, Serpico (Al Pacino) purchases for himself a Browning Hi-Power with target sights .  The salesman incorrectly tells him it "takes a 14-shot clip". Although a Hi-Power can have a maximum capacity of

Orchidelirium in New York

The New York Botanical Garden   is  a  living museum, a major educational institution, and a scientific organization operating one of the world’s largest plant research and conservation programs.  Inspired by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Great Britain,  the City of New York acquired hilly, rocky terrain in central Bronx to establish a botanical garden in 1891.   Its 250 acres of natural and cultivated lands include multiple indoor display conservatories and a 50-acre remnant of the forest that once covered New York City.

The Enid A. Haupt conservatory in    New York Botanical Garden ,  constructed by the Lord and Burnham Co. in 1902, is considered one of the most magnificent conservatories of its time.    Conservatory  is the largest Victorian glasshouse in the country.  It is the focal point of the New York Botanical Garden where most of the botanical shows take place. 
The 512-foot long, 42,430 square foot complex of greenhouses was modeled after the Palm House, built in 1847 at Kew Gardens in London. Like its muse, it features a 90-foot high central dome for palm trees, elaborately decorated with lacy metal ornament.
During the Victorian era, exotic plants were displayed individually, in pots, arrayed in galleries not to showcase their beauty or how they fit into an ecosystem, but rather to display their botanical relationships. When the first half of the Conservatory was opened in 1900, about   $100  was spent on the inaugural display of plants. Some of these, including a Kapok Tree, are still there over one hundred years later.

By the 1970s, the building was in a state of extreme disrepair and had to be either substantially rebuilt or torn down. Enid Annenberg Haupt saved the conservatory from demolition with a $5 million contribution for renovation and a $5 million endowment for maintenance of the building. Due to her generous contributions, the Conservatory was named the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory in 1978.
In 1997 the New York Botanical Garden spent US$22 million to restore the eleven inter-connected houses of the   Conservatory.

These houses include   South American lowland tropical , cloud forest, New World , Old World deserts and changing display houses.    Today the conservatory includes more than 3,000 specimens housed within four distinct environments.
While the collections have changed over time, the basic concept of display has remained fairly consistent. The base collection is generally permanent, with additional plants brought in for special exhibitions throughout the year.  Every winter there is a  Holiday Train Show and every spring   Conservatory is home for an extensive orchid show.     During the  show, thousands of orchids are brought in and are incorporated into the existing collection.

There are 6,085 orchids representing 2,261  different types  in The New York Botanical Garden’s permanent collection, from all  regions of the world, including Australia, Africa, South America, and Madagascar.  Because the Garden is committed to orchid research and conservation, its scientists study the botany and ecology of orchids; what they discover is useful to conservation work that will ensure the future of these extraordinary plants in nature.
Orchidaceous  is the largest family of flowering plants on Earth. There are more than 25,000 documented species of orchid, and scientists are finding more every day.

Most of the world’s orchids are found in the tropics but they exist on every continent except Antarctica. Greeks looked at them as a symbol of virility. The Chinese, as long ago as the time of Confucius, called orchids "The plant of the King's Fragrance." In the middle ages orchids played a major role in herbal remedies. They were also regarded as an aphrodisiac and have been one of the main ingredients in certain love potions.   Orchids have been cultivated in Europe for 250 years.
Prior to advances in the last century,   orchids were exclusively the purview of the elite.  

Orchids were for the rich, even royalty.  Orchids in the wild   were seen as one-of-a-kind, true rarities.  The popularity of orchid plants increased dramatically in the early 1800s when  a fascination for collecting the flowers erupted into hysteria. The craze, dubbed "orchidelirium," produced prices in the thousands of dollars. Because collectors were willing to pay the large sums of money for the new type of  orchids, the explorers were willing to face danger and illness to locate more flowers. Queen Victoria herself appointed a royal orchid-keeper, and plant collectors roamed the empire, seizing what they could. Orchids were the jewel of this empire, symbolizing opulence, elegance, power. 

In the United States, Florida has the highest number of native orchid species followed rather surprisingly by Alaska. And while the orchid family is wide and diverse, there is only one orchid that really has any economic value – the vanilla orchid. It is the seeds of this plant that supplies the world’s natural vanilla flavoring
Thanks to commercial cultivation, orchids are now far easier to acquire, though no less prized.  Things changed and now everybody can afford  to have an orchid at home.

Thousands of orchids of every shape and color are on display till April 17, 2016   in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. According the exhibit’s curators, this year’s show highlights “the far-flung adventures of daring explorers who risked life and limb to secure these captivating and exotic flowers from danger-laden jungles around the world.” Accompanying the floral displays are illustrated manuscripts by British horticulturists and collectors, such as James Bateman, that contain detailed renderings of orchids and vignettes depicting New World Spanish colonies.  I  visited Botanic Garden a week ago and really loved it!