Today is Labor Day. It is a great day – the gardeners are off. That means a little deserved peace and quiet for me. I can relax here on Discovery Peak in the Children’s Garden, where I came to celebrate WOW’s 3rd anniversary. It was busy yesterday and Saturday, but today I get to enjoy the rain and just a few visitors daring enough to brave the elements on the last day of summer vacation.
I guess it is also nice for the gardeners to have a day off. Normally they work very hard to maintain this place, so a little break is good for them. I am sure most people who visit the Garden appreciate the how beautiful the Garden looks, how well groomed most of the spaces are, how little trash is on the ground and how healthy the plants are. I wonder if those people think about how much work is needed by the horticulture staff to keep it that way. If they do, I bet they underestimate the amount of staff and time it takes.
But as hard as the gardeners work, don’t forget the hard work put in by us plants. The staff takes time off and even enjoys a holiday like today, but the plants are here every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow (not really that much in Hampton Roads, but you know what I mean), enduring the elements and growing our best for the visitors. We are a well coordinated team, with at least some plants in bloom every day of the year. Some enjoy the tender care of the horticulture staff while others like me grow despite their best efforts to the contrary.
Great examples of the hard work done by plants can be seen right here on Discovery Peak. The watermelon patch was decimated by raccoons a few weeks ago. Those bandits came in over a couple of nights and ate all the watermelons which were growing as a nice display for all the kids. A lot of plants would have given up then, but that Citrullus persevered, put out new blooms and new fruit has started growing again. There are a lot of other plants growing food as an educational display for young visitors. Okra, rice, cucumbers, black eye peas, peppers, eggplant, peanuts, persimmons, tomatoes and even a giant pumpkin are just some of the plants working right now in the rain while the gardeners sleep in.
The banana is another hard working plant. Its large leaves are like sails and in a strong wind, it could get pushed over. Instead, it allows its leaves to shred like fringe along the central leaf stem. Those “shredded” leaves still produce chlorophyll to keep the plant growing. To add insult to injury, a lot of people think of the banana as a tree when really it is an herbaceous plant. There is no woody stem for this plant. The leaves die back every year and it has to start growing all over again each spring. Talk about a lot of work.
So the next time you come to the Garden, make sure you say thank you to a gardener. They all work hard for you to enjoy your visit. But also say thanks to the plants themselves, because they are laboring for you too. And they love it.