During this time of war, we have seen and heard, via TV, radio, billboards, social media platforms and other media, patriotic calls to volunteer, pleas for help, and a call to arms for Ukrainians to fight for their country. 

There have even been hugely popular postage stamps released, like the border guard on Snake (Zmiyny) Island giving the Moskva missile cruiser verbal abuse.

Flowers depict Ukrainian border guard and Moskva missile cruiser in early days of war before it was sunk. (Photo Credit: Peter Dutczyn)

The one-of-its-kind Mriya cargo plane, completely destroyed in a hangar by invading Russians, was the theme of a stamp issued at the end of June.

Mriya cargo plane with inscription “With the Mriya in My Heart” (Photo Credit: https://kyivcity.gov.ua/)

We’ve even seen patriotic themes expressed in graffiti daubed around Ukrainian cities. Slogans and heroes depicted on large murals adorn the sides of buildings. One billboard shows a soldier in modern-day military attire, rifle in hand, with the slogan “We defeated Hitler and we’ll defeat Putler too!”

Well, now patriotism has come to gardening, a beloved past-time of the nature-loving Ukrainian people.

We have at least five colorful, beautifully-sculpted, patriotic-themed flower beds (Клумби in Ukrainian) dotted across the capital depicting positive images.

They catch the eye and showcase the creativity of Ukrainians in the face of the day-to-day reality of war. They are aesthetically pleasing too.

On the practical side, landscape gardeners design them intricately to the finest detail. The flower bed of the sunken Moskva cruiser even shows its ID number, 121.

The difficult part with such beauty comes with the upkeep, when the flowers start growing after a few weeks and weeds appear.

So, a device is attached to the end of a small crane, which can remove weeds and also replace flowers. Minimal damage is the goal here.

We also have a flower bed called the Ukrainian Madonna, and is based on the photo of a young woman protecting and breast feeding her child in the Kyiv underground in the first days of the war.

The Ukrainian Madonna depicted. (Photo Credit: https://kyivcity.gov.ua/)

 

And poignantly, one of the slogans, “We are from Ukraine” (Ми з України).  It is most likely a sequel to street art that appeared in the southern port city of Odesa in April.

“Hi, We are from Ukraine.” (Photo Credit: Peter Dutczyn)

The phrase also echoes the greeting on social media by Vitaliy Kim, head of Mykolayiv Region Administration, whose upbeat daily reports have proven an inspiration during the past four months. Such artistic expression shows Ukrainians aren’t sitting around waiting to be taken over by hordes of orcs.

A street art creation by the LBWS street art collective featuring the slogan “Good evening, We are from Ukraine” on a street in Odesa on April 13, 2022. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

All of this is a form of therapy and a pleasant distraction. Creativity, work ethic and artistry mixed together with a big dose of defiance and a dash of humour. It personifies locals as not merely being victims of war but as standing in collective defiance with the sailors on Snake Island.

Ukraine’s Eurovision winner, The Kalush Orchestra, can also be seen in the form of the lead singer’s pink bucket hat, the one recently auctioned off (together with the Eurovision award itself) for $900,000. The money will be used to buy Ukrainian-made drones.

Ukrainians, it seems, continue to show they have talent by the bucket full.

 

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