I visit gardens everywhere I go, yet I remain only a visitor. Yet as a visitor I find meeting the residents of public gardens is (nearly) always delightful!
Garden ponds are often the urban center of a garden with flashy hungry Koi rushing up to greet any shadow that falls over their portion of water. Momma geese with their brood in perfect formation for swimming lessons move across the water. The occasional great blue heron standing sentinel over the entire scene. A bench nearby provides the perfect opportunity to sit a while to watch.
Some residents stand and share their ground and invite you into the scene. Quail Gardens north of San Diego, near Encinitas opened their new Hamilton Children’s Garden in June of this year. Happily adults may visit too! An ivy topiary horse stands near the entrance. A true piece of garden magic to create and grow such a piece of work. The under the sea garden of water wise succulents creates an underwater scuba scene. The sea horse is happy to let you stand and look as long as you wish.
Visiting gardens gives me such happiness and I often feel a pang of jealousy as I leave aware of the residents who get to stay. Though in truth not all garden residents are equally inviting.
Once during a late spring visit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Globe, AZ I was walking the trail on a hot sunny morning. I was so happy to reach a shady tree lined stretch as for this visit my Mother was with me and the sun was beginning to take its toll on us both. Just a few steps into that cool shade and we both began to relax grateful for the immediate change of temperature. Just a few steps more and we encountered a large rattle snake. Initially it too was relaxing, stretched out in the cool shade along the edge of the path. Our arrival caused it to instantly coil into a strike position! Tail rattling it dared us to take a step further!
We stopped moving forward, the snake continued to rattle in warning. Flustered we bumped into each other, we stepped back, we stepped forward, we took two steps back. I looked longingly toward the shady path. I considered a retreat back into the hot sun. The snake did not yield us an inch. The path was narrow so we could not safely slip past. Our courage gone we made a hasty retreat back into the sun. Scurrying back along the path, our nerves frayed, each blowing leaf, each skittering lizard caused us to jump, fearful of yet another snake encounter.
We didn’t relax until we climbed into our car in the parking lot where my Mother posed the question, “Why didn’t you take a picture of that snake? It was posed perfectly! I could have shown everyone back home!” I had no answer.
Visiting gardens takes us into the natural world. All sorts of residents are in that natural world some I enjoy more than others. Encounters with the locals is (nearly) always a surprising delight.