What is a greenZoo?
Botanical gardens like to show-off the beauty of plants. We visit botanical gardens to be awed by what plants can do when they have a good upbringing.
But, staging dazzling displays is just part of what botanical gardens do. Unlike other public gardens, botanical gardens collect plants, study them, and teach others about what they learn about plants and the natural systems that sustain them. Some gardens work on whatever plants are handy. Others concentrate on plants from places where the needs of plants and people collide.
Botanical gardens have a lot in common with zoos that protect, preserve, study, and show ordinary and endangered animals. The more than 1600 botanical gardens throughout the world are guardians and advocates for plants and the natural systems that support them. They are greenZoos.
Why This Web Log?
I am neither a botanist nor a casual garden visitor. For the last ten years, on nearly every Saturday morning, I spend an hour or two walking in a botanical garden and then writing about what I see.
For most of those years I have walked with my wife Pat, who sees and senses things I don't. It's always a slow walk. It's always different. It's always intense. I see things in those well-tended 79 acres that I would never have been able to sustain in my own garden or by visiting the homes and gardens of a dozen friends or by talking a walk in the woods. Nature changes some things. The caretakers leave their mark as they tame and nurture their specimens. The planners and fixers are always evident as new plants come and go with the seasons and space changes as open land fills with new buildings, gardens, fountains, and sculpture. Visitors too change things: pennies are pitched the pads of giant Amazonian water lilies or a spent flower blossom unexpectedly appears tucked behind the ear of a bronze statue.
Like most public places from coffee shops to museums, the garden has its group of "regulars"-- people we see week after week, year after year. All of us come together at the same place at the same time each week. We greet each other warmly without needing to exchange names. I know that there are other regulars who visit this garden on other days and at other times. I think that there are others who regularly visit each of the more than 1600 other botanical gardens throughout the world. I built this web log to give me a chance to write about what I see and for all of you who visit this greenZoo or any of the other botanical gardens around the world to add what you see and feel in the gardens where you walk. By writing and reading, my hope is our walks in these extraordinary places will become richer.