Friday, December 29, 2006
Visit to the Botanical Garden
This week it turns out my nose was dripping like a faucet, and I was too germy to travel anywhere. So I stayed home, and yesterday, when I was feeling a bit better, Cathy persuaded me to visit the Botanical Garden. I haven't really been inside the BG since they renovated it, and so I've missed all the new things. Maybe their Christmas display is not new, but I'd never seen it before. Very cool! Here's the little train outside the entrance. Notice the National Christmas tree off in the distance to the right. It seems pretty skinny this year. I'll go back when I have a real camera....these photos were taken with my Sidekick pager....but here's a taste of their wonderful display.
Inside, there are miniature models of many famous Washington buildings. I think the one on the left side of this photo behind the trains is part of the Capitol building, but maybe not. Maybe it's the old post office building downtown (which is now a mall, kind of). Or maybe it's, if you'll pardon the expression, the White House in an earlier brown phase??
The place was FULL of people, many of whom were quite short, noisy, and sticky, and everyone was having a good time. I have a degree in Biology but never had to take a class in Botany, more's the pity. Going to the Botanical Garden now is better than taking a class, though. What class has a squad of supremely knowledgeable docents on hand? Miscellaneous display tidbit: Flowering plants appeared 130 million years ago! Charles Darwin said their appearance on this planet was an "abominable mystery." Why he called it "abominable," I don't know, because flowering plants are one of this planet's great glories. Maybe he was ticked off because he couldn't figure out why they showed up. Or maybe it's because there's very little in the fossil record of the ancestors of flowering plants. Which figures....flowers have a very brief life cycle and are quite fragile. It's not like someone was back there pressing violets in a book.
Here's a model of the Smithsonian Castle. I was just inside the full sized Castle last weekend and learned that Smithson, who founded the Smithsonian Institution, died in Italy. When they brought his remains back to D.C. to be interred at the Institution, one of the Smithsonian's board members was Alexander Graham Bell. Bell and his deaf wife, Mabel, went to Italy to accompany Smithson's remains on the sea voyage, and there's a lovely big photo in the Castle lobby of the huge ocean liner that carried their party.