What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens – Land Connection
Ted Morris, Student Native Plant Conservationist
Think of a natural area that you feel particularly connected to. It could be a place that you’ve been many times or a place that you’ve only been to once. It could also be a place from your past, or somewhere you’ve visited recently. Now, picture yourself there. You might be sitting, standing, walking, rolling, or running through the serene area that you’re remembering. What about this place makes you feel connected?
I have a few places that I feel strongly connected to, and one of them is the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. I think of myself walking through the gardens early in the morning before work starts. The walk starts past the Formal Lawn and into the Deciduous Woodlands, where I look down to see the beautiful blooms. In the spring, it would be bloodroot, trout lily, and trillium. In the summer I’d see yellow lady’s slippers and Jack in the pulpit. I’ll look up as well to see the green in the trees and perhaps a blooming mountain maple. Coming out of the woods I come upon the Freshwater Marsh, where I say hello to the wildlife. In the past there’s been a turtle in the marsh, but this season I’ve only seen ducks and a muskrat. We share our typical moment together when I try to get a closer look and they either swim or fly away. Then I move past the Quiet Lawn to get a look at the Herbaceous Bank which has many lovely plants, including cardinal flower, Canada anemone, and bee balm. Finally, my walk ends past the Stream and through the Sand Barrens, where I open the barn gates to start my workday.
My appreciation for this area doesn’t end after my morning walk-through. What makes me feel connected to these gardens is that I get to work with all of the unique plants that grow here. Transplanting, pruning, and weeding are all actions that deepen my connection to the plants. It’s a reciprocal action because plants provide me with so much: food, clothing, a roof over my head, fresh air—the list goes on.
Thinking of our own place and feeling connected often gives us a sense of belonging and a sense of identity. It could also be calming for us, give us excitement, or could inspire us for an adventure. Whatever the benefit is, it’s always a good practice to think of that place or visit it in person if you can.
The Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens cannot accept visitors while the Acadia campus remains closed to the public. You can however visit us virtually and stay connected to what’s happening in the Gardens on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Facebook: Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens
Photo: Ted Morris, Acadia Student ESST (BCD) ‘21