On Tuesday night, I began a course in the history of landscape gardening at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. We spent most of the first session pondering the question “What is a Garden?” and wondering aloud what might be the difference between a garden, a park, and a landscape. How does one distinguish between an indoor and an outdoor garden? What kind of garden was Eden? Is Paradise a garden?
On some level, who cares?
But the question is fun for me to think about and was on my mind when my guides-in-training class visited the Aquatic House at the BBG this morning. We passed through a door and the air was hot and humid, perfect for the plants that love to grow in water and moist environments like swamps and bogs. As soon as I entered, I felt transported by the sound of the small waterfall in the deep pool.
I was fascinated by the staghorn fern hanging from the ceiling.
I was enchanted by the beauty of the Sarracena purpurea in the swampy bog, its design perfect for capturing unsuspecting insects and eating them alive.
And then there were dozens and dozens of orchids dangling from on high, a number of them in bloom.
Is this large room called The Aquatic House a garden? If a garden is a place that has the power to transport, then the answer is yes.