Hello Fellow Readers,
Recently I had the privilege of visiting the New York Botanical Gardens with nurserywoman become friend, Holly from Blairstown NJ. It was her idea to see the gardens featuring Brazilian landscape architect Burle Marx before the exhibit closed last week.
Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) was established in 1891 and spans 250 acres in the Bronx, the largest garden in any US city. Their mission – to protect and preserve plants, enhance the well-being of people and our environment, as well as educate and empower “the next generation of Earth’s caregivers.”
The sign that welcomed visitors to the exhibit was titled The Modernist Garden. And modern it was with an iconic curved patterned path that Marx is known for – Rio’s Copacabana Beach and Biscayne Boulevard in Miami are amongst the most famous. The bold black and swirling white path led us into swaths of tropical colors, textures, and treasures to the focal point – a walled water feature.
I didn’t know until visiting that the art Roberto Burle Marx’s produced during his lifetime (1909–1994) spanned far more than in gardens and landscapes. His expressions also came in the form of paintings, drawings, and textiles. The most special surprise through the gardens were quotes of wisdom shared by Marx during the talks he gave. He was a philosopher, maybe my conclusion, although some say he resembled Einstein with his un-tamed white mane. To follow are a few of Burle Marx’s sentiments in my own words.
Gardens are rooted in our spiritual selves providing respite and nurture. Plants serve as a pallet of color, texture, and beauty, but beyond that, they are living things that provide the oxygen we need to survive.
He said how he felt his life would be too short to discover and learn from “all of the treasures.” Reminding me of how I explored the woods as a kid, each time going a bit further into the magical world amongst the trees. I like to think I still do.
There was a poster headlined – A Record Year in Fires, which explained: “the number of fires blazing in the Amazon (the world’s largest tropical forest) in late August is the highest on record – an 83 percent increase over the same time last year.” Our hearts bleed.
And another sharing the history of Marx’s appreciation and inspiration of plants. It was when he explored and studied plants in the remote spaces of the Brazilian Rainforest that he began “to appreciate the interconnectedness of all living things in ecosystems.” He indeed was a conservationist as well as a lover of plants.
Towards the end of the day, we drooled over the water garden, a permanent and adored feature of the NYBG.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen the water lilies in bloom here,” Holly said. Nelumbo nucifera is also called Indian or sacred lotus, or just lotus.
I took over 250 photos that day – one of my favorites, a lotus in bloom next to brown seed pods and green ones not yet dry. There is beauty in every stage of life.
Then there was the photo of a permanent sign along the edge of the water garden. It said, Please Do Not Throw Rocks. Such wisdom. Gardens have many lessons to teach us. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com
I invite you to read a previous column inspired by Holly The Legend of Marigolds