I can see the stone wall of the Missouri Botanical Garden from my front porch. It often beckons to me. Though my walks are often brisk, I bring a camera to slow me down to catch a brilliant color, an engaging pattern or a playful reflection. Sometimes, I sit for 5 or 10 minutes and try to meditate.
At the MBG, there’s people watching, of course, and this often causes me to think of the people I care most about–how could this not be the case in such a beautiful place?
But the two things come to my mind almost every time I visit the garden:
1. David Attenborough’s “Private Life of Plants.” (It’s about the only thing I keep my VCR for – it’s not available in Zone 1 on DVD). It’s a beautiful video series that blurs the line between flora and fauna, when plant growth is run in fast-motion.
2. Charles Darwin’s final paragraph from the “Origin of Species”:
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
Some people would rather not ponder science while walking through a beautiful garden. They say that it detracts from the visit. Not me. Even though I know relatively little about specific plants, I am well-read on natural selection and I find the science to be an enthralling functional overlay to the experience. Gardens are bursting with beautiful things that are also equipped with exquisite tools for survival and procreation.