Four words that make someone like me feel well and truly out of my intellectual depth.
Or thick (as a more concise writer might say).
The plethora of latin names, the tangle of botanical geneology, and the sheer biological complexity makes the plant world fearsome enough. But throw in one of the world's academic behemoths (I still love that word) and it's enough to make you weep, knowing you are to the garden world what a kebab is to the culinary world. Actually, to the world in general, a morning stain on the pavement of life.
Now, I'm not about to dive in to the intellectual waters claiming it's all too elitist, because there's no class in that. But I do want to share some thoughts on botanic gardens from the hapless point of view.
Bristol has a botanic garden, yet I've never been. I grew up a squirrel's nuts throw from the esteemed Gardens in Cambridge but barely set paw. And when I took a beginner's course in growing your own, set in the treasured grounds of Bath botanic gardens, a generous talk from the director there didn't just go over my head, it was totally lost in the clouds.
Yet in Cambridge last Thursday I saw this:
A Jade vine. The actual colour was breathtaking, and it was recommended to me, upon asking, by the lady at the entrance gate. The photos don't really do justice to how striking this plant is, but here's a close up to try and give you some impression.
Why do I not regularly mooch through the grounds of such gardens when there is such simple pleasure to be had? Is it just my own ignorance of the botanical world, or is something being lost in translation between those who live for plants, and those of us for whom life is rather overwhelming? And are those of us stuck behind computers or in meetings day to day, missing the real antidote that many over the years have painstakingly concocted, developed, understood and used for themselves?
What I can say is that if you too fear the botanist, go in on your own terms and see what you come out with. Well, make sure you don't come out with a Jade vine or any other rare plant. That would be stealing. And you'd be going somewhere else, on Her Majesty's terms...
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