I’ve just visited the Disneyland equivalent for plants, and it’s confirmed that I’m not that strange. In fact, looking around at the crowds at Terra Botanica (Angers, France), I can safely declare that there are many people, who like me, are fascinated by flowers and plants.
How did we happen to be there? Phillip suggested we pop in to take a look around (during a conference held nearby), and it was fun. It’s described as les mondes du végétal and it is certainly that. From the moment you enter you are completely immersed in a strange mix of Jules Verne botanical wonder and a garden-of-Eden fantasy.
There is everything for everyone and given the size of the place it’s a good thing that there’s also transport to get around – I couldn’t decide which was better, the walnut-shelled self-peddled monorail or the river boats. I watched extended families wander through the experiences on offer completely engaged: mesmerised by the water-cycle, geology, the history of plant collecting. And as impressive as this is, (to genuinely interest people in the same topics they once shunned in high school), this place also satisfies everyone’s need to wander through simply beautiful gardens and landscapes.
I describe all this, not to encourage you to go there, but to point out that I believe for a place like this to exist – to sell tickets day after day – we humans must have a fundamental fascination in, and love of, plants.
In some of us it’s already awake. In others I believe it’s lying dormant waiting for the right moment. And by the right moment I don’t mean retirement to the country. I’ve watched the gardening spark kick-in with my children often when they paused their lives to have families. But I’ve also witnessed it in as simple a moment as a pot plant given to someone whose potential garden is just an empty window ledge. When they later asked what they could do to care for their new plant I knew a dormant gardening interest had been woken by something as simple and lovely as a potted Flower Carpet Amber rose.