Once a decade, the Netherlands Horticulture Council organizes an exposition celebrating and highlighting horticulture’s contribution to life. The event is a World’s Fair of horticultural products, innovations in food production, and the beauty of plants in all forms. Participants from around the world showcase their garden style and their premium exports from their part of the planet.
I am recovering from a fever. Tulip Fever. Seduced by their charms and captivated by their colors, petals, fringes, and the brief burst of beauty heralding the arrival of spring, I despair from the longing to possess these flowers in my garden.
Valentine’s Day is my favorite celebration, and yes, I know it isn’t a holiday, it is a marketing event. While it seems so commercial today, I am surprised to discover it has always been about marketing! In the late 1800s, Richard Cadbury needed to sell more chocolates to use his company’s cocoa butter surplus. Victorians were great fans of Valentine’s Day; they expressed their love in elaborate greeting cards (postage was affordable.) Chocolate became available to the masses (sugar had become cheaper), so Cadbury created a moment of marketing magic, the heart-shaped chocolate box. This beautiful box was sold as a dual-purpose gift because after your sweetheart ate the chocolates, she could use the heart-shaped box to store love letters and romantic mementos.1 In the US, Hershey chocolates made their famous kisses in 1907 continuing the romantic alliance.2
I gave up growing roses in my Arizona garden years ago. I found them demanding and disappointing. I virtually stopped buying cut roses as well since their life span seemed incredibly brief. But I have just returned from a trip to Ecuador, where roses reign supreme, and I have an entirely different view of the world of roses.
“Sometimes people go to extremes and create eccentric, fantastic, obsessive gardens that linger in one’s memory and become tourist meccas.” Diane Ackerman, Cultivating Delight
Spring is a date on the calendar. The feeling of spring is what happens in the garden. Whenever it arrives at your door, it is a season of hope, renewal, buds swelling into blossoms, and new leaves unfurling color on the landscape. Spring summons joy in the soul. Even in this moment of COVID-19 when everything seems upside down, the garden grows, ignoring the noise and responding only to the changing light and awakening life.
A tour of the Rio Botanic Garden w/ Lais Tammela,
Lais is a biologist and a certified tour guide with Tours by Locals. She grew up near the garden and often visited throughout her childhood. During her years as an educator, she brought her students here, conducting research of lichen growth on the royal palm walk, comparing the lichen as the trees progressed from the street to further back into the forest. Immediately we were excited to have her guide us around the garden.