My Affair with Gardens: Georgia Mountain Ethnobotanic Gardens and Woodland Medicine Trail
DescriptionGardens are the one universal and infinite language of man and nature. The pure joy that walking through a garden brings is hard to put into words. Each garden has its own music and palette.
As a child in the garden of my grandparents, both native and indigenous gardeners, I marveled at the intricate beauty that exploded every spring in Lower Michigan. So small I could barely see the flowers that towered over me until Grandfather lifted me up onto his shoulders. The divine scent planted itself into my psyche. When I was old enough to give Santa a request at Christmas I asked for small garden tools which the following Spring enabled me to start my own little space of wonder. I remember Grandmother describing a large field of dandelions as a sea of soldiers. We picked the greens and made a wonderful soup. We had no fear of rolling in the yellow until we too turned yellow.
Grandfather was half Native American. He taught me the value of plants to man’s existence. How to live in harmony with nature on a spiritual level. He told me, “Plant the seeds where they want to be not where you want them to be”. It took me years to figure out what he was talking about.
My goal growing up was to create a wonderful ecosystem in the middle of the city of Detroit. I didn’t want to just visit nature. I wanted to help create it where automobiles and cement ruled. Using the vision my grandparents gave me, I had gardens wherever I lived. Career choices allowed me to travel to many different cities where I always visited whatever gardens they offered to the public. From Montreal, Canada to the tropics, I continued to invest in my emotional connection to all things alive and green.
Now in the twilight of my journey I recently moved to the North Georgia Mountains. For all my travels and experiences it was the trumpeting North Georgia mountains that captured my heart. Unexpectedly, while driving to Vogel State Park my husband and I noticed the University of Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. Within this vast arena the Georgia Mountain Ethnobotanic Gardens and Woodland Medicine Trail exist. We feel so lucky to have such a splendid surprise only three miles up the road from our new home. We go there regularly now to see what new ventures the gardens and their caretakers have forged. Watching each season usher in a new interest in what my grandfather had taught me so long ago. He might not have had a name for it but he understood the importance of biodiversity.
-Story contributed by Gail H.