Paradise Under Glass

This weekend, the kids were away, so I went to the library and checked out about a thousand books...and then I actually started reading them.  I was still in the "read as fast as you can because you don't know how long you'll actually get to be drinking words" mode as I flew through 2 or 3 books.  Then I started reading "Paradise Under Glass" and I slowed down.  Her words seemed to cut through my frantic pace and made me stop and actually READ.  Within the first 4 pages, I was so entranced by her description of the US Botanical Gardens that I wanted to go right that second....and we did!  We can never do such spontaneous stuff anymore, so it was such a treat to act like we were 20 years old again, pack a bag and drive to look at a garden.

Crazy?  A bit.  ...but it was fun (for me...I realize it was a bit of torture for my husband and appreciate his willingness to go look at plants when he would much rather be doing...well...anything else.)  Are you curious about the words that inspired me to drive 2 hours for some plants?  Indulge your curiosity, but be prepared to want to go visit a garden if you read slowly enough....

"In the instant before a wave of moist warm air fogged my glasses, I was overwhelmed by a view of a vast and dense jungle of greenery.

When my glasses cleared, I looked up, following the trunks of the palm trees to the roof, 
an arching structure of curved glass crisscrossed with metal frames and struts. 
Several stories above me, through a scrim of palm fronds, I could see pieces of sky.

Vapor languished in the air, and the mugginess after the biting cold outside made me feel almost drugged.

I wandered along the sinuous flagstone paths, crossing the stream that wound through the understory. 
There were so many variations, it struck me
on the theme of the Green Leaf: sculpted or feathery; veined in white, grey or maroon;

edged in pink, or backed in a somber purple;

shiny or dull;

vinging, spreading, or gripping the ground;

as small as shirt buttons;

or as big and wrinkled as an elephant's ear.

Only a few bright flowers pricked the backdrop of foliage;

Anthurium with lipstick red flowers that looked as if they were made of plastic,

and bromeliads with spiky blooms in garish shades of orange and magenta.

I hiked up an accordion of a metal staircase that led to a catwalk that circled the Palm House. 
Here was where most of the flowering plants lived, out of the shade of the palms.

Tiny yellow orchids, bougainvillea with flowers that shaded from pink to peach;

a rainbow of hibiscus, bleeding heart with drops of blood at the end of their white blossoms, 
and indigo passionflowers clung to tree branches and railings or perched on the ledge that ran around the perimeter.

There were the smaller conservatories off the main jungle: a desert garden with cacti and grasses, 

an orchid collection, and, most appealing to me, a misty "garden primeval" carpeted with mosses 
and filled with what looked like Jurassic-era tree ferns and strange squat palm trees.

It was always hard to leave this place where I felt so thoroughly revived."

...but leave we did, but not without leaving a little bit of beauty ourselves at the gardens as part of my little jar project.



stacey said…
Absolutely beautiful! And, yes, inspirational! Thank you.
Bella Michelle said…
Beautiful, beautiful! I will have to look for the book at the library!

As far as botanical gardens go, I have been know to drive far and wide for a walk in the beauty. My daughter (who is now 19) almost breaks out in hives at the word botanical as she was drug - literally - through so many as a child!!! I know the gardening bug will hit her one day.

My Garden Club is going to tour a lovely, private estate garden in a couple of weeks and I can't wait. Apparently the owner is quite fanatical about keeping folks out so it is a coup that we will see it (we even had to provide backgroud check info!) I just hope we can take photos.
that is absolutely an inspiring excerpt, however it does something different for me. It makes me want to get all the plants I like and put them in my house.
grace said…
Beautiful photos. We have a Botanical Gardens here I love. They have moon light strolls once a year on a full moon. I love going there.
WheelchairDecor said…
I wonder if there are any Botanical gardens in Utah...we do have Thanksgiving Point! But, somehow there doesn't seem to be the same romantic beauty at Thanksgiving Point as there is in DC. Ummmm!
Becky Jane