By: Melissa Wold, Mobile County Master Gardener | CoastalAlabamaGardening@gmail.com
Nature inspired creativity. A simple statement with extraordinary results. Nature’s beauty expressed through art is timeless.
Prehistoric petroglyph depictions of animals, trees and orbs survive floods, avalanches and the tyranny of time. Fast-forward to Monet’s water lilies; Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Images shared and loved by millions. Give paper and crayons to a child and their gift back to you is a field of brilliant flowers. Nature speaks, nature resides in our being.
Every Friday, a group of botanical artists gather at Mobile Botanical Gardens for class. Delicate brushstrokes transfer to paper, the intricacy of a single leaf, a camellia petal, a fig branch.
Nature fills the pens of poets. “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” (From Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees.”) “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” (From an English nursery rhyme.) We grew up knowing these poems. “Trees” was the first poem I memorized in elementary school. Writing about nature continues to this day. This line from Pulitzer Prize-winner Mary Oliver’s poem “Poppies” paints a picture of a meadow of wild abandonment of poppies: “The poppies send up their orange flares; swaying on the wind.”
Lindsey Hannahan recently published her first book of poetry. She writes with the Writers in Nature group at Mobile Botanical Gardens. Her poem “Voiceless” begins with these two lines: “Who can say there is no God / When encountering a Rosy Maple Moth?” A simple image, a beautiful expression.
How can writers not be enticed by nature? Not to describe her beauty, her perils, her soothing touches? Each pen stroke, each word, each phrase captures creation.
Dr. Sue Brannan Walker (Alabama Poet Laureate 2003 – 2012) explains how nature affects her writing. I end this article with her insight, titled “The Heart of a City: A Garden of Delight.”
“It is a bold statement but one that is true: Gardens are essential for health and happiness. They are more than just places of beauty and serenity, of meditation and motivation. They untie people and bring them together in a vital connection with nature. Gardens are major attractions in cities throughout the world. There is the famed Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Mount Prospect; the Gardens of Versailles in France; the Villa d’Este Garden in Tivoli, Italy; and the Kew Gardens in London, to name a few. In Mobile, there is the Mobile Botanical Gardens at 5151 Museum Drive, a source of pride, creativity and community where numerous events occur throughout the year.
“An old proverb states that ‘Life begins the day you start a garden.’ Claude Monet said his garden was his most beautiful masterpiece — but we should not overlook the many benefits of having a city garden. Among them is heart health. WebMD says gardens and gardening reduce stress, fatigue and anxiety. In his book ‘The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder,’ Richard Lowe says, ‘Every day, our relationship with nature or the lack of it, influences our lives.’ In this century, he notes ‘our survival or thrival — will require a transformative framework for that relationship, a reunion of humans with the rest of nature.’ And it might be said that Thomas Jefferson could be speaking of the Mobile Botanical Gardens when he said, ‘No occupation is so delightful … as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.’”
Gardening Events for Your Calendar
What: 24th season of Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens and Home
Set out in a walking tour of the gardens, which features 3 million lights and 15 scenes.
When: Nov. 29 through Dec 31 (5 to 9 p.m. nightly, except Christmas and New Year’s Day)
Where: 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road, Theodore
More info: Go to bellingrath.org
What: Mobile County Master Gardeners Monthly Meeting
When: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 (10 – 11:30 a.m.)
Where: Jon Archer Center, 1070 Schillinger Road N.
Speakers: Pat Gonser and Mary Johnson, “The Goat Ladies”
What: Alabama Master Gardeners State Conference
When: March 30 – April 1, 2020
Current activity: Inviting sponsors and donors to participate
Contact: AMGA2020Mobile@gmail.com for information about sponsorships and donations for the conference.
Master Gardener Helpline: 877-252-4769, or send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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