Monday, 8 July 2013

Fireweed dreams

Fireweed and webs
As I sit at home to write my dissertation, the installation Threads sown, grown & given continues to grow and change at the garden. Now it's the season of fireweed. At the centre of the installation, surrounded by linen webs, a circle of fireweed is now glowing amidst the regular garden crops (cucumbers & squashes). Fireweed caught my attention years ago when I first encountered it growing in northern Quebec. To plant it in a garden calls into question what we in fact consider to be "a garden." This weedy plant grows after fires (or clear cuts or other disruptions), spreading rapidly by its thick rhizomes and thousands of fluffy seeds. Beyond being a "weed" and regenerating exposed soil (important work!) it is also a beautiful flowering plant that bees love to visit. From a human perspective, it has been valued as a food plant (the young stems can be eaten), a medicinal plant, and...perfect for this installation project based on threads...a fibre plant (both stems and seed fluff can be spun). Since this final installation engages with the questions of regeneration, reconciliation, and gifts between humans and with the land, this plant spoke to me. However, it was with some trepidation that our garden team invited a weed to live alongside our regular crops.

It appears to be incontournable: This is the last year of The Orchard Garden in our current location. I am filled with sadness but dream that perhaps the fireweed will take root and regenerate the soil and our imaginations after the destruction ends.

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