Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thirty years and ticking...

Brian (my boss) told me that Thursday was my 30th anniversary working at Denver Botanic Gardens... He congratulated me and gave me a carved walking stick which I shall certainly employ on future hikes and think of him and the institution with genuine tenderness: not many people spend 30 years working in a paradise of flowers. There have (of course) been times of professional frustration and I have "burnt out" on occasion: a workplace no matter how beautiful and exciting is, after all, not a panacea for one's personal dramas. It is perhaps a tribute to my particular workplace that my foibles and faults have not ruined it for me. On the contrary each year, it becomes more and more the garden of my dreams...
I could have picked no end of rare plants: there must be twenty or thirty Corydalis alone blooming at Denver Botanic Gardens (my original plantings have sometimes proliferated, but Mike's are still choice and modest). There are Juno iris, and lots of saxifrages and drabas up the wazoo (not a technical term...don't look it up). But I have picked Pulsatilla vulgaris as my anniversary flower. There is something emblematic about the first picture: one of a hundred or so robust pulsatillas (there have been thousands: one of my former bosses made me take out most of them!) front of Agave neomexicana. Classic European alpine and mythic American xerophyte cohabitating, as it were. Henry James seemed to say in his books that the chasm between corrupt, sophisticated Europe and naive, pure-hearted America was too vast to bridge. I'd like to think my horticulture (like my hero Vladimir Nabokov's writing) somehow ties the world together, showing that human culture expresses itself through plants as much as words. One thing's for certain: I shan't be spending another thirty years at DBG.


  1. Congratulations on 30 years! I met you when I toured DBG with the Perennial Plant Association several years ago. I was thinking about you just yesterday when I got a phone call from a terribly mis-guided home gardener who was trying to create a rock garden in the shade. How fun to see the posting about you from Dan Heims on Facebook.

  2. I would like to take that bet: while I do hope you officially retire at some point down the road, I believe that in 30 years you WILL be involved in DBG in some capacity. Something about gardening breds longevity - just look at Moras!

    Regardless, you are not allowed to leave until I do! Congrats on 30 years! -Diane


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