Garden Diary - May

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Wonderland: Curious Nature
Inside at the New York Botanical Garden
Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Open to the public from Saturday, 18 May 2024 through Sunday, 27 October 2024, a magical discovery of the curiousities of nature with a fantastical exploration throughout the New York Botanical Garden. Indoors and outside there are contemporary art installations, daytime programing, fantastical tea parties and after dark experiences. For tickets contact NYBG at 718-817-8716 or email at ticketingsupport@nybg.org

Have you ever fallen down the rabbit hole, gotten deep into something, become distracted, ended up somewhere strange? Lewis Carroll introduced the phrase as the title for the first chapter of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Come, take an opportunity to explore curiousities of naure in the Enid haupt Conservatory.

Walk past lush green fern fronds, under the trailing Spanish moss, and through the rabbit hole,
a simple curving tunnel lined with slender bark-covered poles. But then, when you are through

and emerge into color with plants unfamiliar and magical, oversize and strange.

We expect animals to eat plants. These plants eat (if not animals) insects. Tall sarracenia

lure them in to drown in their pitchers. Located at their base and also on top of the stump
Venus fly traps actively snap shut to ensnare their prey. Both kinds digest the insects and
benefit from the nutrients thus provided, which otherwise are lacking in their habitats.


image courtesy New York Botanical Garden

Grace Slick. Jefferson Airplane. White Rabbit. Go ask Alice
when she's ten feet tall. Call Alice when she's very small.

Fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, is a poisonous, hallucinogenic, edible mushroom.

Country flowers in an orderly walled garden, a tidy English double border filled with foxgloves and larkspur and more.

Beautifully harmonizing with the walkway pavement, masonry walls define
the flower borders end. Colorful potted plants enhance the Palm Court doors.

The Palm Court Pool is freshly planted. Young, the Amazonian water lilies, Victoria amazonica,
left and center, have not yet reached their mature size. Then, a leaf will support a young child.

image courtesy MIT Press, Atlas of poetic Botany by Francis Hallé with Éliane Patriarca, translated by Erik Butler

This is not a tree. It is but the single leaf of corpse flower, Amorphophallus titanum.
Named Carrion or Corpse flower because its rotting meat stench attracts beetles that
are the pollinators of its massive bloom, which will appear only every seven to ten years.

image courtesy MIT Press, Atlas of poetic Botany by Francis Hallé with Éliane Patriarca, translated by Erik Butler

These mushrooms have sooty black caps. The shape though . . . might they be
Libery Cap, Psilocybe semilanceata? But they have tan to brown caps. It was
1799 when the first reliable report of their psychoactive properties was made.
An English family became intoxicated after eating some foraged mushrooms.
Oh well, no one will be eating ceramic mushrooms, not even Alice.

What a wonderful time I am having at Wonderland, Curious Nature. A rather quick tour both outdoors on the grounds and inside the Haupt Conservatory. If I am to keep myself fortified for all this activity I need to eat. And Wonderland is ready for visitors with delicious food.

I enjoy a modest tea party. Alice, what do you think? A feast for the eye as well as the palate, with three unique little sandwiches (excuse the bite I already took from one, it was too appealing to resist.) A miniature salad of red lettuce, yellow cherry tomato, two radish slices. Small brownie, another square of shortbread. And a decoratively glazed cookie. Iced tea to wash food down.

Ready, I am now, for the rest of the day.

See also Wonderland: Curious Nature, Outside at the New York Botanical Garden

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