Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Summer love in the hot-house - self-watering potplants for Vacationing Danes

Theve only got 3 months of summer, so they simply leave Copenhagen for their countryside retreats to enjoy it fully.

Being so near the North Pole, everything gets started off under glass, cozy and safe from snap-freezing.

These nifty little self-contained, self-watering trays are purchased at the supermarket.

The roots can go wandering down for water, without being worried about attack from the anaerobic, root-eating microbes that lurk in soggy, non-drained soil. Osmosis sucks up just the right amount for the rest of the soil in the tray.

You just keep it filled up from this little pouring hole

And the result is an Arctic Circle Eden, that you can enjoy for the whole summer, or at least the Friday night to Monday morning part, while it takes care of itself when you get exiled to the office.

Those clever productive Danes.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ken Done of the Vikings: Bo Bendixen's edible garden, creatures & artwork

Bo Bendixen treats Cecilia to a harvest of tiny,
sugary-red tomatoes from his rotunda greenhouse

Bo Bendixen's Art
Bo Bendixen is one powerful Dane, who can't resist making slight adjustments to the world.
There is a road that winds between his homestead and his shop. It used to run straight through what is now his sprawling gardens - Bo took care of that. When he realized his front lawn lacked a menhir, he hunted one down and carried it in. Deciding he needed a better view of the sea, he got an earth mover and built a personal Mt. Fuji for short, steep hikes, with a meditation spot at the summit.

postcard no. 578 © Bo Bendixen

His pet cows, however, choose to graze somewhere less dramatic.

His artwork has power of a different kind: With a few deft brushstrokes, his animal designs bring a narcotic kind of happiness that induces people to buy and buy. His cards, mugs, t-shirts are found in Bo Bendixen shops that pop up all over the place in Denmark, and reach all the way to Japan and beyond.

Cecilia and Bo Bendixen, with Japan on our minds

"I'm not an artist, I realized early on that was too much trouble, depending on galleries. Why am I successful? I like working hard. And I'm lucky - I just draw what I like, what makes me happy. And it happens to be what the public like too".

Bo Bendixen merchandise

Cecilia after being tossed atop Bo's useful front lawn menhir.
In the background are the diverted public road and a Bo Bendixen shop.

postcard 603 ©Bo Bendixen

Big Bo has a dogmatic little dog following him everywhere. When I asked "Where are your cats?" he tells it like this: cats are for drawing, dogs are for living with.
Cat pictures, it turns out, outsell dog pictures in legions. The reason for this is that cats come in one model only: cat-shaped. Dogs however come in every which way, from great danes to scotties, and dog people (being the faithful kind) only love the kind of dog they love. They don't go buying cards with the 'wrong' dog.
In Art and in Business, Bo does an unusual amount of observing 'what actually is', then letting the essence of those observations shape his designs, his garden, his manufacturing.

View from atop the Menhir, decorated with an extremely functional Bendixen column

Bo Bendixen's Garden

Chickmatrix - every good Viking needs something sweet and fluffy to care for

A plum tree grows into his chicken coop, giving his fluffy friends sweet treats throughout summer, while the tree enjoys home-delivered fertilizing. Eggs and plums are collected simultaniously.

Above: Bo the batchelor's declared favorite chicken. You can almost measure the delight he takes in his creatures from how impeccably tended they are - clean coop, weed-free - and how attentively they are drawn in his designs. Gardens this impressive can be created and tended alone, but not without the energy-source of being utterly infatuated, besotted, and rewarded by the results of your labor. There is no doubt about it: a garden is beautiful when it is loved.

The frog prince and the golden ball

Bo's goldfish bowl

One of many meditation & inspiration spots, watching his 'models', the fish, waiting for a visual 'story' to tell.

Sometimes it happens
postcard ©Bo Bendixen

But sometimes Bo exaggerates
postcard©Bo Bendixen

Bo's glass bower is quaint in shape, high in tech. He got inventive and thought up gadgets to vent and create mildew-expelling breezes in summer, and to create season-extending, human-friendly warmth in winter. As anyone who draws knows, success is a matter of staring at things long and hard enough to see whats missing, and to start to care about putting it in. Its pest-free, carefully pruned, watered, and arranged. Like a well-mannered, creative child, this tiny balcony-style garden has a parent that listens to it, goes out of his way for it, and does quite a bit of appreciative, critical gazing.

Seed for saving for next years crop of flowers

Grape vines and tomatoes festoon the green house, with his frog-flag waving bravely in the stiff nordic sea breeze

postcard © Bo Bendixen

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Creative Copenhagen: be elevated

"I wish I could photograph these balcony gardens from up higher" I said to the man loitering outside the fruit shop. So he arranged it.

Bo Bendixen just threw me up onto the menhir he happens to have in his front garden

And at Tage Andersons, the fairytale florist, the potplants are irrepressable. Just because its dark half the year doesn't mean you can't make the best of whatever hole you find yourself in.

Over the bubbles at Copenhagen design week, I met a real life Billy Elliot: a Welsh labourour's son who took his teenage dancing lessons in secret, here to do some seriously elevating choreography.

Cecilia at Jurgen's wild west birthday party

Its a fairytale city, a city of spires and dreams and Leggolands and Queens. You are only meant to have your feet on the ground just long enough to get by. So it seems, so far.

City of Copenhagen's emblem

Click on the links (tomorrow), once I've tossed all those stories of urban gardens & sustainably aspiring creativity onto this blog.

Time for slumber. Tomorrow many things need to be thought up, making up my life as I go along.

Flower arragement by Tage Anderson