We didn’t get any snow today, after all. I awoke to just the barest tinting of white in the landscape, akin to a heavy frost, and the rain has made short work of that this morning. So instead of a snow photograph today, as I had hoped, I’ll present you with some snowdrops I encountered during my latest visit to the South Carolina Botanical Garden.
Snowdrops have not ever been on my list of beloveds. I’m not sure why not. For at least the last decade, they’ve practically been off my radar entirely, consigned to the category of bulbs and plants for whom I was never going to develop an attachment.
Yet all of a sudden, as I stared at them Thursday morning, I found them adorable, especially the way their fat, green caps match the little flash of spring green in their underskirts. So tiny as they are, they even arose from among the bare stems of ground-hugging shrubs and in little crannies that seemed too cramped to hold anything, much less a hint of spring.
I guess that’s how life unfolds. One second you’re sure of something, and the next everything is changed. I’m thinking now of my hatred of tomatoes as a child, which with the flip of some internal switch one summer turned to adoration bordering on obsession.
I’m also reminded of how by just beginning to learn a foreign language and penetrate its mysteries, I discovered my passion for language and my wanderlust, and how traveling and living elsewhere quickly revealed to me my ignorance about other cultures and peoples. All of this in a strange way helped me to rediscover my own language, meeting it at a deeper level, almost like greeting an old friend who gladly meets you at the airport after you’ve lived abroad for a few years.
And I’m telling you about this now because I’m feeling similarly awed by my discovery of a site called Blotanical. (See, that’s not a typo in the title.)
Blotanical: where garden blogs bloom is a site created by Stuart Robinson. (Thank you, Stuart!) It’s sort of like Facebook for garden bloggers, only much more pleasant than a social networking site because it’s all about plants and the people who love them.
Plus, even though it’s about plants, it doesn’t have any stupid games called “Farmville,” with people excited to have harvested a cartooned icon’s worth of corn or sending you notices they’ve leveled up with an anatomically incorrect drawing of a chicken.
Oh, and by the way, if you truly want to annoy the granddaughter of a real farmer who lost the family land to the bank after a record multi-year drought, go ahead and play a ridiculous computer game in which you pretend to be a farmer while simultaneously pretending to your boss that you are working, and invite said granddaughter to join you in your game, while steadfastly ignoring her invitations to real activism on behalf of small farmers and continuing to play your game as the culture marches on crushing small family farmers every day.
But I digress.
Anyway, Blotanical members are more likely to tell you funny or poignant stories about their actual chickens and display real photographs of colorful vegetable harvests, beautiful enough to make you salivate.
I joined a little over a month ago, but between a wedding, a honeymoon, the holidays, and a major work deadline, I really didn’t start getting to know the site well until a couple of weeks into January. Now I think it’s safe to tell you I’m in love.
My wanderlust has calmed down considerably in the last few years, as I’ve felt a longing for roots develop in its place. But that doesn’t mean it’s disappeared entirely. Via Blotanical, I can now travel the globe daily, vicariously enjoying the sights of magical gardens in distant lands, interacting with gardeners in almost every far-flung corner, observing weather patterns, water features, and wily weeds.
I can learn about invasive plants delivered from my own continent to others, and exotic (to me) native plants that make me remember their otherwordly beauty or their alien weirdness for weeks. I watch experiments unfold step by step and am encouraged to try clever new solutions to my own gardening dilemmas. On the same day, I can choose to tag along on a visit to a famous formal garden in England and on a fantastic hike through untamed jungle.
I’m invited to share in the collective sorrow over heartbreaking plant losses and to celebrate the brilliant successes, both in the gardens and in the gardeners’ lives.
Over and over, it makes me feel part of something bigger, a huge group of us doing our bit to nurture life on this planet, whether that’s inviting back the migrating songbirds to a poison-free acre, sharing the latest harvest with neighbors, or propagating a handful of hand-pollinated daylily crosses. I think I’m not wrong in perceiving gardeners as a kind of tribe, connected by our love of the trees and the soil and the sky and the seeds, all of us so avidly following the cyclical patterns of life and death, working always for the benefit of life, to help our little pockets of the world thrive as best we’re able.
It’s a beautiful thing, really.
There is probably somebody you’d love to meet over at Blotanical. So far I’ve discovered gardeners who focus on the history of their area; gardeners attracting bees, butterflies, or hummingbirds to their back yards; gardeners restoring huge swaths of habitat; gardeners specializing in a particular species of houseplant; gardeners who want to save the world one harvest at a time; gardeners who are amateur plant-breeders; gardeners who are busy preserving our genetic seed heritage, and gardeners who just want to come home from work and relax beneath the vine-draped pergola.
There are garden photographers, therapists, activists, engineers, teachers, designers, writers, philosophers. Some are growing on an urban balcony the size of a couple of desks. Some are growing their family’s entire food supply. Some of us are beginners, and some are so experienced and wise there’s not really a title to convey that level of expertise.
I’d invite you to visit. This tribe is always ready to welcome another of its own.