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Pen Strokes and Brush Strokes in Nature

By: Melissa Wold, Mobile County Master Gardener |

Nature inspired creativity. A simple statement with extraordinary results. Nature’s beauty expressed through art is timeless.

Prehistoric petroglyph depictions of animals, trees and orbs survive floods, avalanches, the tyranny of time. Fast forward to Monet’s water lilies; Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Images shared and loved by millions. Give paper and crayons to a child; their gift back to you is a field of brilliant flowers. Nature speaks, nature resides in our being.

Every Friday, a group of botanical artists gather at Mobile Botanical Gardens for class. Delicate brushstrokes transfer to paper, the intricacy of a single leaf, a camellia petal, a fig branch.

Japanese Maples at the Mobile Botanical Gardens by Melissa Wold

Nature fills the pens of poets. “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…” (from Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees”). “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow…?” (English Nursery rhymes). We grew up knowing these poems. “Trees” was the first poem I memorized in elementary school. Writing about nature continues to this day. This line from Mary Oliver (Pulitzer Prize Winning poet) poem “Poppies”: “The poppies send up their orange flares; swaying on the wind…” paints a picture of a meadow of wild abandonment of poppies. Lindsey Hannahan recently published her first book of poetry. She writes with the Writers in Nature group at Mobile Botanical Gardens. Her poem “Voiceless” begins with these two lines:

Who can say there is no God

When encountering a Rosy Maple Moth?

A simple image, a beautiful expression.

Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny by Judy Weaver

How can writers not be enticed by nature? Not to describe her beauty, her perils, her soothing touches? Each pen stroke, each word, each phrase captures creation.

Dr. Sue Brannan Walker (Alabama Poet Laureate 2003-2012) explains how nature affects her writing. I end this article with her insight:

The Heart of a City: A Garden of Delight

It is a bold statement but one that is true: Gardens are essential for health and happiness. They are more than just places of beauty and serenity, of meditation and motivation, they untie people and bring them together in a vital connection with nature. Gardens are major attractions in cities throughout the world. There is the famed Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Mount Prospect; the Gardens of Versailles in France; the Villa D’este Garden in Tivoli, Italy; and the Kew Gardens in London, to name a few. In Mobile, Alabama, there is the Mobile Botanical Gardens at 5151 Museum Drive, a source of pride, creativity, and community where numerous events occur throughout the year.

An old proverb states that “Life begins the day you start a garden.” Claude Monet said that his garden was his most beautiful masterpiece – but we should not overlook the many benefits of having a city garden. Among them is heart-health. Web MD says that gardens and gardening reduce stress, fatigue, and anxiety. In his book, The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Lowe says: “Every day, our relationship with nature or the lack of it, influences our lives. . ..” In this century, he notes that “our survival or thrival – will require a transformative framework for that relationship, a reunion of humans with the rest of nature.” And it might be said that Thomas Jefferson could be speaking of the Mobile Botanical Gardens when he said: “No occupation is so delightful . . . as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”

December 2019

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