Have you ever wondered what the Garden is like when no people are here? It is not quite a “Night at the Museum” scenario, but pretty close. Let’s just say I am not at liberty to discuss details. However, a small group of people got to see the Garden this morning at sunrise and had a little taste of that experience. They came for some sort of sunrise photography program and were able enjoy a special time in the Garden.
A sunrise here is quite special. Because Lake Whitehurst is to the east of much of the Garden, we get to witness the sun come up over water. This morning, the sun crept up from over the Little Creek base, providing a wonderful orange glow on the scattered clouds floating quietly in the sky. All the photographers enjoyed a quiet, hushed moment as the sun peeked over the horizon. For them, it was a special treat, a special moment in nature. For us plants, it was the factory whistle blowing – time to go to work photosynthesizing.
For the next couple of hours, the Garden is eerily quiet compared to the middle of the day. No string trimmers or blowers humming. No clattering golf carts full of tools. No trams creaking along accompanied by hyper-cheerful voices of guides named Mandy or Melissa. No children squealing with delight on their way to the children’s garden, butterfly house or summer exhibit. No pounding feet of members exercise-walking along the paved paths. No ooohs and aaahs of people enjoying the beauty of the Garden.
You start to notice different sounds instead. You hear birds chirping and singing as the day starts. Bees buzz as they start their day foraging among the flowers. The sound of water takes many different forms – lapping along the shore of the lake, gurgling in small rills or swishing and splashing in the bigger fountains. The wind teams with trees to create gentle rustling noises. You can even hear the rapid flapping of wings in the butterfly garden as these flying jewels get started. It is a very relaxing time.
The light is extra special at this hour as well. This morning, the sun played among the clouds, providing moments of warm, bright light then quickly hiding so that the light was more coolly dispersed and didn’t cast glaring shadows. The photographers loved it. Flowers like sneezeweed and black-eyed Susans popped in the sunlight. Grasses emitted a fuzzy glow as the sun streamed through their groupings. Dew sparkled in the light. Since the sun was still low on the horizon, shadows stretched wildly along the turf. Trees kept many planting beds in a high, open shadow, allowing wonderful saturation of colors for delicate flowers like the mealy sage.
Gradually, as the sun shifted higher in the sky, the sounds and sights of the garden took on a different tone. Staff started to show up and prepare for the day. Visitors arrived to enjoy the bounteous offering of plants and beauty. Another wonderful day in the Garden. But for us plants and the occasional special guests such as this morning’s photographers, we will always treasure the early morning memories of a sunrise in the Garden.
Editor’s note: The sunrise shoot is a lifelong learning class offered by the education department. See our calendar for other special classes and future sunrise shoots.