The Gardens eagerly anticipates the opening of the Arrington Plant Adventure Zone in late April. Today our Plant Adventures Coordinator, Jennifer Sanders, begins a series of posts on the vision for the future of the space and its programs.
People sure do love their plants.
The voice came from halfway down a hill covered in woody shrubs and rain-slicked leaves: “I’ve got to have a dogwood.” My first question was “Ma’am?” because I hadn’t known she was there. My second was “Are you okay?”
We were at the New Georgia Landfill for the city of Birmingham’s annual native plant dig. It was a damp and dreary Saturday afternoon earlier in February and we had meandered far down the road to see what we might find. As my eleven-year old dug up a respectable specimen of Vaccinium arboreum (Farkleberry), I wandered a few steps away. I first heard and then spotted the source of the voice, a woman wearing a red shirt, a yellow raincoat, and a considerable layer of mud. Her name, we learned, was Donna.
She was easy to miss, clinging as she was to the ground and the down end of an up-ended tree. As my daughter made several trips back up the hill with Donna’s shovel, bags, and recently-dug oak leaf hydrangeas, I stripped away layers of vines, took hold of Donna’s arms, and helped her pull herself out of the tree stump’s clutches and back up to the clearing..
Her first words as we emerged: “I slid down that hill, but I’ve just got to find myself a dogwood.”
As tactfully as possible, I wondered aloud that perhaps, with the rain coming down harder and a few treasures in hand, it might be time to make our way back toward the parking area. Donna spotted the Farkleberry my daughter had worked so hard to dig and, mistaking the combination of tape colors, said “there’s a dogwood.” With a protective maternal eye, I convinced her of its true lineage. A good thing, as I’d hate to have an altercation with a woman I’d just help climb out of a hole.
Undeterred, she headed down another path to continue her search.
Though we may not regularly risk life and limb in their pursuit, those of us who spend time at The Gardens sure do love our plants. Or, as Executive Director Fred Spicer will tell you, plants are not an option in our lives. As we move forward with Plant Adventures, one goal of our programs is to tell the stories of what our plants mean to us — to all of us and to the world around us. It’s horticulture with culture mixed in. I hope that you will find ways to participate in the activities we are planning — and you’ll be hearing more from us about those in the weeks ahead.