Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Moveable Feast at the Burnaby Art Gallery

On Wednesday I traveled to the grounds of the Burnaby Art Gallery to meet artist in residence Holly Schmidt and talk about gardens and bees. Holly has created a mini-community garden on the lawn beside Ceperly House. A lush crop of garden vegetables is emerging over the top of some large crates filled with rich soil. These are the kinds of crates that "ordinary" art is shipped in. Well, the bonus is that you can appreciate the aesthetic qualities of Holly's art and you can eat it too. The artist has set up a number of workshops and tastings for the community to engage with her project, which is called The Moveable Feast.

 I will be giving a workshop on bee gardening on July 14, so I came to evaluate the bee plants on the grounds of the gallery. Turns out the best bee plants are right next to Holly's garden. The white clover in the lawn, the dandelions, maple trees and blackberry bushes are all great bee plants.

 There is also a lavender planting along one side of the garden, and what look like brown-eyed Susans, which will bloom later in the season. While I am chatting with Holly, her carpenter comes and drops off some lovely benches for the site. The tables, complete with holes for plant pots will arrive later in the week.

 This is a great way to create a temporary potato garden!

 My partner and I created a site-specific installation on the grounds a few years ago so  it was lovely to return to the site, especially on the first sunny day in ages.

 Last year Holly created a garden project near the Creekside Community Centre. With The Moveable Feast the artist is exploring aspects of pedagogy embedded in her community art practice. She's passionate about gardening and once worked for an all-women organic landscaping team in Calgary Alberta.

 Here's a honey bee taking a nose dive into the nectary of a blackberry flower.

 In fact this little female honey bee was sticking her tongue into the edge along one of Holly's crates. I think she was looking for water trapped in the cracks.

 There was a diversity of insect life in the blackberry bushes including at least three varieties of bumble bees, sweat bees, mosquitoes, syrphid flies dragon flies and leafcutter bees. (See below.)

 Did I mention the mosquitoes? Argh. Actually being near Deer Lake means mosquitoes, but also a good source of native plants and insect diversity.

 There are some lovely trees on the site, creating dappled shade for bumble bee plants such as bleeding hearts and Solomon's Seal.

 I also saw two butterflies. I believe this is a Lorquin's Admiral, sipping nectar from blackberry flowers.

 I also saw this anise swallowtail searching for nectar in this frilly marigold. Frilly plants are not great for insects. I hope she found something under all those petals! Furthermore, if she lays her eggs on these seasonal plantings they will get ripped up for the fall and the eggs will be lost. It would be better to plant pollinator-friendly plants with xeriscaped permaculture in mind. Saves water, labour, and the butterflies.

Be sure to check out the list of tastings and workshops for the Moveable Feast and head out to the Burnaby Art Gallery. Bring a picnic or make reservations at the Hart House for lunch. Also, be sure to check out Elizabeth Mackenzie's show in the gallery. Her haunting drawings referring to the history of Ceperly House are very powerful.

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