Sunday, March 22, 2009

Serenity Garden

Serenity Garden
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
The 2009 SF Flower and Garden Show is being held for the first time at the San Mateo event center, a space better known for antique shows and the Make Faire. I went after 3pm yesterday because ticket prices fell from $20 to $13. That helped make up for the $10 parking. Ouch.

A very non-floral but polite picket line greeted me. According to the pamphlet they handed out, San Francisco Garden Expositions and Special Events companies refused to hire local labor. Instead they brought workers in from outside the area so that they could pay them less. The San Mateo County Central Labor Council and the 5 affected unions are asking that these workers be paid prevailing area wages, effectively wiping out the advantage.

This show is a microcosm of the global stage where cost arbitrage is a central plot line. The dichotomy of the hands of those who work to bring you flowers and the hands of those who consume them shows that the serenity of gardens are bought with a price.  Raising some interesting philosophical questions.  Is the distribution of wealth equal?  Should it be? Given that it's not, what's my responsibility towards others who are both less fortunate and more?  Should I feel glad that my delight in and enjoyment of flowers helps provide jobs or sad that those jobs aren't better in some way?  In what way should they be better?

I'm reminded of a show I saw a few years ago at the Arnolfini in Bristol, UK that raised the same questions. It juxtaposed photographs of and interviews with the men and women who tend the flowers in the fields with a floral arrangement that ran continuously along all 3 walls of the gallery.  

While I missed the entire pavilion devoted to the sale of individual plants, I did manage to buy a 1 year old Kamata Nishiki, a tree peony grafted onto a bush peony from Lily Pad Bulbs from Olympia, Washington.  Tree peonies don't need a cold winter so if my 23 bush peony shoots don't bloom, maybe this will.

My next flower outing will be the Fiori D'Amore in Oakland held May 2nd through May 10th.

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