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Friday, July 23, 2010

Advantages of membership to Botanical Gardens

You are under the impression that Botanical Gardens are only for professional horticulturists and you, being an absolute novice, couldn’t possibly see yourself going to one. What the heck for? You don’t know a Tulip from a Rose, a Maple from an Oak, a hoe from a spade. Botanical gardens are hoidy-toidy, stiff, formal, imposing and down right boring for the likes of you. Well, why should anyone try to change your mind? Just for your own good, is all.

Let us thoroughly explain the true value of the Botanical garden.

The Botanical garden is not, unlike what you may have been told, just for the serious study of Botany. Yes, some folks use it as their classrooms but as they are so serious they have no other choice. They don’t know how to have fun. We, on the other hand, do. Many Botanical Gardens, as it happens,  have wonderful programs that have very little to do with plants if you can believe it. Therefore, those who have little interest in plants can also have fun at the Botanical Garden. How? Let us count the ways.

#1- Many Botanical gardens  have concerts and dance shows mostly in summer but sometimes throughout the year. They bring in eclectic groups from all over the world. Funky Tex-Mex Fusion, traditional Japanese dance,  Native American interactive dance demonstrations, Celtic groups singing ballads accompanied by harp and bagpipes, famous classical pianists, local folk musicians and world renown string quartets have been known to appear in select gardens and you can see them for the price of admission to the garden.

#2- When the winter blues are at their height some gardens put on great Christmas, or for the politically correct among us, Holiday light displays. Gardens with large conservatories have displays of decorated trees, wreaths, nativity scenes plus a zillion Poinsettias, Amaryllis and Christmas Cactus all abloom.  That’s a way to get you in the holiday mood and out of the winter blahs.

#3- Scavenger hunts, creepy crawly demonstrations, guided walks through butterfly houses and funky insect sculptures  are common activities at many botanical gardens. The kids love it and end up begging -or should we say bugging?-  to come back to the “fun flower place”. Of course, adults have been known to get Peter Pan syndrome at these places. If you don’t want to revert back to childhood you may want to avoid these.

#4- Lessons in gardening are often free or at low cost at some botanical gardens. Such things as how to prune shrubs, how to make a container garden, propagation methods and transplanting are often covered by knowledgeable volunteers and bonafide horticulturists.  Just bring your thirst for knowledge and they’ll provide the knowledge for your thirst. You may even get to take home a little plant.

#5- Some Botanical gardens share flora space with fauna, meaning animals. Many have  mini-zoos as part of the park. Some take in injured animals for rehabilitation and give demonstrations on the care and fascinating behaviors of some rather rare and not so rare creatures. Not just lions, tigers and bears can be found here but also bald eagles, falcons, the elusive Florida panther, turtles, otters, Egrets, llamas, deer, flamingos and alligators just to mention a few.

#6- Tai Chi instruction, yoga, fitness walks,  nature talks, bike tours and birdwatching are also some of the many activities available at Botanical gardens.

#7- Botanical gardens are often available for special events throughout the year, weddings being the most popular but also for family reunions, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and plain old family picnics.

#8- Paintings, photographs and sculptures by world famous artists and innovative crafts by local artisans are often displayed at Botanical gardens. Many are for sale for home and garden alike.

#9- While this may be a no-brainer, we should  mention it anyway. Botanical gardens are a nice place for a long walk with a loved one. Holding hands is allowed and at times encouraged. There are plenty of little hiding places, private alcoves, sweet get-away spots and secluded nooks just made for canoodling couples. Perfect place to pop the question too.

#10- The Botanical Garden by design is a photograph’s dream whether they are professional or amateur. With all those lovely plants, trees, ponds, flowers, sculptures, birds, butterflies and buzzing insects all over you can find hundreds of opportunities for enchanting landscape pictures and great close-ups too. Grab that camera, snap a few hundred photos, enter a few contests and possibly win something. Never can tell if you have an award winning photo in you.

Are you convinced yet? Do you see that plants aren’t the only things to see at Botanical gardens? But of course, the main reason to go to a botanical garden is indeed to see all the beautiful flowering trees, shrubs abloom, flowers by the ton and all the different garden displays but then, we didn’t really have to mention those, did we? Do yourself a favor and visit your local Botanical garden and ask for a calender of special events. You’ll find the botanical garden becoming your favorite place in the world. Do enjoy it.

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