Thursday, April 9, 2015

For the Beauty of the Earth: A Visit to the New York Botanical Garden

"We have a little garden,
A garden of our own,
And every day we water there
The seeds that we have sown.

We tend our little garden
And tend it with such care,
You will not find a faded leaf
Or blighted blossom there." Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter

Seeds in the gift shop at the New York Botanical Garden. If only we tended to our planet, starting in our own communities, with such care.

If people began to care about flowers, they'd begin to care about the planet, Lady Bird Johnson believed, according to Andrea DeLong-Amaya, Director of Horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. DeLong was interviewed for an NBC News story on the spell bluebonnets cast each spring in Texas. Lady Bird, DeLong-Amaya says, was a woman ahead of her time. "She was very sensitive to the importance that nature plays and wanted to share that with people and the joy of the wildflowers and the joy of nature." Lady Bird Johnson would say, "Where flowers bloom, so does hope."

Lady Bird cultivated beauty in this world. I want to spread beauty in this life too: of flowers, of words, of heart.

A cheery yellow pansy on my front steps adding beauty.

Botanical gardens are so many things to me, including a place of immense beauty where you cannot help but be in awe not just of flowers and trees but of life itself. It is so striking when you walk the grounds at these types of gardens how there isn't any litter to be found. I contrast that to the multiple discarded water bottles and other trash found on our quiet suburban street I live on in New Jersey. I keep finding "Nirvana" water bottles when walking my dogs and add them to our recycling bin. Littering doesn't seem very zen at all. So much litter is also by the drains that say, "Dump No Waste. Drains to Waterways."

No litter thankfully near these snow drops at the botanical garden.

Poems celebrating spring line the walkway to the conservatory where the orchid show we were there to see was held, including O Sweet Spontaneous by E.E. Cummings, Come Slowly -Eden! by Emily Dickenson and Let There Be New Flowering by Lucille Clifton. I think of Elizabeth von Arnim writing in Elizabeth in Her German Garden,

"while admiring my neighbour, I don't think I shall ever try to follow in her steps, my talents not being of the energetic and organising variety, but rather that of that order which makes their owner almost lamentably prone to take up a volume of poetry and wander out to where the kingcups grow, and, sitting on a willow trunk beside a little stream, forget the very existence of everything but green pastures and still waters, and the glad blowing of the wind across the joyous fields."


Glen Miller and other classic big band and jazz music piped in as I walked through the serene setting. The music and the beauty all felt so timeless.

I cannot see water lilies and not think of the painter Claude Monet. I love the new water lilies stamps being offered by the U.S. Post Office.

I adore the travel you can do at botanical gardens. From deserts to rainforests in one day.

Steve was carrying Grace around and holding her to the flowers, I wondered what imprints might be made in her ever forming young mind.

All this strolling through the gardens whetted my appetite for a late lunch from the garden's bounty.
In their Pine Tree CafĂ©, the Asian Garden salad: baby kale with carrot slaw, broccoli, cucumbers, edamame, toasted sesame and wasabi peas with a soy ginger dressing, with an organic mint tea and a clementine.

In a "Cheater's Guide to Living to 100" in the April 5th issue of Parade Magazine, it noted "The world's most robust 100-year-olds stick with diets that are 95 percent plant-based, says journalist Dan Buettner, who spent more than a decade examining the healthiest, longest-living people around the globe. "They eat a little meat, but mostly fish." 

Browsing in the gift shop, I think of how much environmental awareness and stewardship needs to be taught at an early age.
East Coast seed bombs in the gift shop. Here's to spreading seeds about caring for our planet. I believe in the power of smalls steps like recycling, buying secondhand and hang drying laundry as often as possible, shutting off lights, and using reusable bags as a few examples to reduce our impact. Happy Earth Day!