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You may have noticed something new hanging above Longwood’s Fern Floor in the Exhibition Hall recently, and it’s not a plant. From now through the Chrysanthemum Festival, 575 red and yellow parasols will hang over the Fern Floor.
“Chrysanthemums are of Asian origin, so we wanted to create an Asian-inspired art installation. We chose to feature parasols, because they relate directly to Asian culture,” explains Jim Sutton, Display Designer.
The parasols used in the display are hand-made in China where they are often used in special ceremonies. Chrysanthemums also tend to hold a prominent place in Asian ceremonies and the practice of creating mum forms similar to Longwood’s Thousand Bloom Mum has been part of Asian culture for thousands of centuries.
Designed to look like a yellow river flowing through a red sea, the parasols cast an ambient glow upon the Fern Floor.
“Color holds very strong meaning in Asian culture. These meanings helped us choose red and yellow as the colors for our display,” says Sutton.
According to traditional Asian culture, the red parasols symbolize good luck, happiness, joy, energy, and power, while the yellow parasols represent hope, earth, balance, strength, and courage.
Planning for the parasol installation began in May when various design layouts were created. Over the next few months, research was conducted and a mock up was performed before the final design was in place.
Before the parasols could be hung, preliminary preparations had to take place. Longwood’s metal shop attached 30 rows of 1/8 inch thick guide wires across the Fern Floor ceiling. Meanwhile, our carpenters attached screws to the bottoms of all 575 parasols so they could easily hook in place along the guide wires.
Once these preparations were complete in early October, it was time to hang the parasols. Using an aerial lift and a skyjack, one of our section gardeners hooked the parasols onto the wires and slid them into place with one person on the ground as a guide to ensure they were placed in the correct positions.
“It was quite the process to hang the parasols,” says Sutton. “The aerial lift and skyjack did not reach the center of the Fern Floor, so we then had to use a pole to push the parasols to their positions in the center.”
In total, hanging the 575 parasols took over 20 hours.
“The parasols add to the excitement of the Chrysanthemum Festival. We hope guests notice the parasols and all of the unique forms and shapes in the varieties of the Chrysanthemums around them. The Chrysanthemum Festival is a one of a kind experience,” says Sutton.
The parasols will hang above the Fern Floor throughout our Chrysanthemum Festival, which ends November 20.
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Meet the arborists and gardeners that care for our trees and flowers throughout Spring Blooms, and see demonstrations throughout our Conservatory and outdoor gardens.
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Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
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Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
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