Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Bluebell Woods at the BBG

The long panicles of wisteria are heavy with open blossoms and thrumming with bumble bees.

And the bluebell woods...

Are more lovely than the singing of them, as Alan Paton might have said, if they had been hills...

I walked through them, quickly, because I was late to meet Constanza, waiting for me at home after a day's drive from North Carolina.
The woods were radiant.

I had just met Betty, more properly Elizabeth Scholtz, the 88-year-old Director Emeritus of the Gardens, and was walking on air as a result. She spoke to me in Afrikaans, talked about Kamieskroon and Nieuwoudtville, and acquaintances in common in Cape Town, and questioned my South African cooking skills. We had been introduced by Robin Simmen, the manager of the Brooklyn Greenbridge Community Horticultural Program.

Hearing about the work that Robin does, bringing people together through plants, and then listening to this doyenne of horticulture talk about her life and memories, was a highlight of my year if not life. I was smiling from ear to ear when I left the building. I hovered through the bluebells.

I have met some extraordinary people this year. They shine.

When we meet them, they shine on us.

We can lead little lives, or big ones.

It's not the size of the pay check that determines its worth.

There are still heroes.


  1. That's a beautifully blue carpet of flowers.

    And I envy you to have met such shining people. I am due for a dose of it too. Bus drivers and tourists just don't do it for me...

  2. Yes, one forgets sometimes how very petty and small and ungenerous and incurious so many endeavours are.

  3. Though my yard will never look like these amazing photos, your post inspired me to buy 100 Hyacinthoides hispanica Danube bulbs this morning to plant beneath my old apple trees this fall.

  4. M. how lovely! I believe there are 45,000 in these woods. Imagine planting them!

    One day your bluebells will have made many more, so you'll get there in the end.

  5. Gorgeous poor little bluebells only have a half dozen so of each other for company. Definitely need to be less stingy with the bulbs! What a lovely meeting you had,'s nice to know that there are still some very special people in the world.

  6. Marie, here is what I've been wondering about bulbs all day...when they are said to "naturalize" and spread, does this simply mean they eventually form more of clump in the spot where they're originally planted and then need to be divided? Or do they actually pop up in different places? Because the second option doesn't seem possible and the first is a lot of work if they're planted in a lawn, isn't it?

  7. Indeed...the size of the pay cheque is of little import sometimes.
    Will I live long enough to see my wisteria like this?

  8. As beautiful as Switzerland in June or Namaqualand in September - if not more. Doesn't matter - all enough to make the heart and soul sing

  9. Count yourself as one who reminds us that there is brightness and beauty and grace. I was feeling very like WH Auden was talking to me:'In headaches and in worry
    Vaguely life leaks away,
    And Time will have his fancy
    To-morrow or to-day.” when your bluebells sent me capering, and oh to brush by those delicious wisteria! Sterkte..


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