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Garden Reflections

Why visit a Garden

by N. Paul Paulus

In this hectic, stressed and over committed society we are a part of these days, why would you ever want to commit a few precious hours to walk leisurely through beautiful and tranquil surroundings? And why would you want to subject yourself or your loved ones to a breath of fresh air? What if you had to gaze at beautiful plants and flowers and an occasional lovely person. And worse yet, what if there are butterflies fluttering out of control in your own personal air space?

Do I really have to answer that? If you haven’t resolved these questions for yourself by now, you have a severe need to experience a certain green kind of rehabilitation. It is essential that you start your own rehab now or at least begin some nature infused preventative action immediately.

However, many people need more than common sense or logic to urge them to pry their eyes and fingers from their computers or divorce their TV’s or abandon the office, even if it will renew their body and spirit.

That is why I am offering a few solid reasons for you to grab your mate, drag your kids or even your dog and get to a garden of your choice. If they don’t let the dog in, leave the dog home, get a dog sitter and go anyway. The same goes for the kids, but I assure you that they will be most welcome at any worthwhile garden.

Those gardens could be public, private or even ones created by nature itself, which has been known to create a good landscape or two. The chosen places just need to be primarily green places with fresh air, very few discordant distractions, elements of color and interest and hopefully a few birds and butterflies and even fewer annoying insects.

Family fun
Solid reason #1: Family interaction

Watching television together is a great family activity on an occasional basis, but it shouldn’t be the only joint activity for all family members to enjoy together.

Strolling through a garden however, offers a different perspective and experience. The adults may simply walk together and enjoy each other’s company all the while absorbing the beauty and interests of the elements surrounding them.

Tree lined walk

Children will more than likely break away and seek adventure even while still in view of their parents. They will often make many discoveries of plants, flowers or various small critters that they will want to share with their parents. In this venue the family is more alive and connected than they would be when lost in their own absorption of a movie at home. It is unlikely that you will see a bored looking family in a garden on a beautiful day even if they did grumble and frown while being forced to leave home to go to that garden in the first place.

Swinging Kid
Solid reason #2: Health and Exercise

Unless you are a person who regularly exercises and loves the feeling that exercise gives you, it is difficult getting physical. But remember, walking is one of the best and least offensive means to accomplish toning up your legs, arms and lungs. Strolling is not as vigorous an exercise as running, but you can generally do it for longer periods of time and unless you are looking for an anaerobic experience it will do just about as much good. Without foregoing the experience of stopping to smell the roses, attempt to keep up a good pace when it makes sense to do so. Breath deeply and regularly to acquire the maximum healthy benefits of reveling in the outdoors. Walking impaired visitors to the gardens are always welcome and benefit from the movement throughout the gardens as well.

Solid reason #3: Education

Education is a great thing as long as it isn’t obvious that this is what is taking place. If you are the one reading this, don’t tell the ones you are going to the garden with, that education is on the agenda. It will happen because once there, you will start reading identification tags, if they are in place. You may hear others brag about their knowledge of this plant or that and if you have your children with you, they will quickly inform you about all the nature around you, because their teachers often beat you to the punch when introducing kids to the wonders of their surroundings. You may even inquire about the elements you see and if no one can tell you what it is, you can Google it later. Take a picture. In fact, take a lot of pictures.

Solid reason #4: Spirituality

Receiving an injection of spirituality is a nice thing to have happen to you. To acquire this feeling you do not have to be religious, although that may be one way to experience this particular sensation. Many people are pleasantly surprised that there is a subtle sensibility of being connected with nature that occurs when they enter a really nice natural or designed landscape. It can be like the sensation you might experience when entering an impressive church interior, particularly when it is quiet and the lighting is perfect.

I’m not suggesting that you might be suddenly overcome and experience a condition of awe or become thunderstruck with emotion inside a designed or natural landscape. However that might be something to look forward to. I am simply suggesting that you could easily acquire a state of connecting with nature and that is a worthy goal in itself. It will leave you relaxed and with an elevated emotional sense that its great to be alive at that moment. Those are spiritual states that are to be sought after and savored.

Solid reason #5: Inspiration

Depending on the garden, there will often be many features that might inspire you to add something to your garden or perhaps to create an entirely new landscape. A special plant you see at one place or a beautiful flower you discover in another spot. Waterfalls, watercourses, fountains and ponds can inspire almost anybody. Walkways, pathways, terraces, furniture, statues or other art objects are often wonderful to look at and might inspire you to do the same in your gardens. And quite often it is just the atmosphere that you want to reproduce. Inspiration is definitely a possibility in almost any garden venue.

Solid reason #6: Romance

I would imagine that the first romance between humans took place outdoors in a natural environment as it was with all animals. The pulse of life has always been more evident among the essence of what we recognize as nature. Green leaves rustling in a breeze, water coursing within creeks and over rocks and cascading over waterfalls remind us that we are all a part of this planet. Earth smells, bird calls, the buzzing of bees and the energy of the sun all serve to infuse us with the reality of being alive. These and countless other factors not of the inside environments conspire to create the perfect atmosphere for two humans seeking the magic of the closeness of being.

Solid reason #7: Photography

I could have selected hobbies for this “solid reason” selection, but photography is far and away the most popular activity that attaches itself to the act of garden going. But I will still mention kite flying, flute playing, ball kicking and lots of other activities, but most of you will want to pack your camera and capture the ever changing images that need to be immortalized in your slideshows, albums or most currently flung into cyber-space to all your family and friends.

See what's new
Solid reason #8: See what’s new

It’s always fun to observe new objects and attend special events. Because of this, botanical gardens wanting to attract new and returned visitors are always creating new attractions. This means they have to get ever more creative and come up with original and enjoyable presentations. Sometimes this takes the form of art exhibits and then at other times music festivals. There are often specialized displays of children’s icons such as Dr. Suess, Mickey Mouse or Alice in Wonderland characters. Life scale dinosaurs can really add a lot to certain garden settings. Many gardens specialize in displays of roses, flowering spring bulbs, perennial and annual flowers. Exotic tropical plants are on display in the appropriate climates or in conservatories. The list does go on and on, which of course is the wonderful thing about all this. There will always be more to see.

Dine among the flowers
Solid reason #9: Dine among the flowers

What’s better than eating outdoors? Al fresco dining is a good enough reason to go to any garden or nature location. It might be a picnic by the creek or at a cafe at the botanical garden. You won’t get any arguments from the kids and everyone will want to do this again and again.

Enough said!

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