A Life More Ordinary – Part One


Meadow Garden at Longwood Gardens

A trip “home” had me thinking about the importance of a life more ordinary. One of less complications.


John Bartram Gardens

I recalled the days in college where we all were hellbent on changing the world, being the one to make the difference. Sure there are many that truly embody commitment and motivation, those that carry the traits of being true and appreciative for what we need to understand and preserve, but the funny thing is…

Anyone who thinks they can change the world by themselves is either miraculous, delusional or dangerous. You learn that stuff as you age. Most are neither that selfless or committed. Things of great magnitude require true sacrifice to set change in motion.


View Across the John Bartram Gardens to the Bartram House

But back to college days. As an eager young biology/psych major, a world of science, reality and theory, my academic adviser, a 50’s-something professor, had a profound impression on me. In the late 70’s, he lectured us overly ambitious biology undergrads that in twenty years time, California would first dry up to desert, then drop into the ocean from a catastrophic earthquake.

Aralia racemose

Aralia racemose at Bartram’s Gardens

All the students laughed off the notion even though the professor told us the earth was warming and California sat on an active fault line with a damaging quake long overdue. Sure these things are seemingly not directly related, but he also impressed on us that all things ARE related. Let’s see how they now know of a relationship…


John Bartram Gardens the Walk to the Schuylkill River

I believed the professor would not be telling us these things without the science behind his theories. I had this vision in my head, courtesy of said professor, of California sucking all the groundwater out of the earth because of lack of rain and then imploding. Then the big quake would come along and annex the dry and useless California right into the ocean. Quite dramatic, I know.


Meadow Garden at Longwood Gardens

Maybe the professor got the timing wrong, but science is making some dire warnings over our excessive groundwater use. They also are predicting the quake to devastate Seattle and Portland in time, but not necessarily the state of California as the professor theorized.

Who really knows what the future brings, but I always feared us removing natural resources – water, trees, natural gas (fracking and induced earthquakes), and oil – which would one day sink or shake this world into dire straits – literally.


John Bartram Gardens Looking Toward Philadelphia 5 miles Away

With the drought-stricken state of California losing an estimated one foot a year in some areas from water depletion, it seems pretty obvious to me that this will become a huge uncontrollable problem. Sucking oil from the earth seemed to have a similar outcome, not to shrink, but its ability to lubricate. I have since learned that oil does not lubricate sliding tectonic plates but…


John Bartram Gardens

For decades scientists have debated the forces and circumstance that allowed this planet’s tectonic plates to slide across the earth’s mantle. So maybe not oil, but extremely heated ground water once again is the answer.


John Bartram Gardens

Studies have found that a liquefied layer of molten rock separates the mantle from the tectonic plates, which results in a more ductile mantle that enables tectonic plate movement. Science found three distinct processes by which the fluid deforms the crust above it and aides in the formation of earthquakes. So taking groundwater may have some unforeseen consequence to all but soil scientists, seismologists and geologists.

Seems my professor was right on target. I wonder if he still is alive to see the state of the world today. Obviously in this changing climate, living a life more simple or ordinary seems fitting. Images from my Pennsylvania gardening visit.

Do you gardeners know for what John Bartram was known? A post coming to answer…


Meadow Garden at Longwood Gardens

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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13 Responses to A Life More Ordinary – Part One

  1. Scientists try to see the big picture. People who look at an extremely cold, snowy winter day and scoff at the idea of global warming just don’t understand how all the pieces fit together.Thanks for the thoughtful piece.

  2. Donna

    I woke from a nightmare and went to gardening blogs to find some comfort and balance and let me say this upfront, your list of dire predictions certainly did not help….LOL

    Two items: Have you ever tried to track down the professor? I graduated college in 1973 but decades later I came across an article about the Charles Schulz Philosophy (which turned out to be a false rumor as he was not the author but none the less is very interesting piece no matter who wrote it) and I wrote to a few of the professors who had an influence on my life, thanking them. I received a very gratifying letter from Professor Towe (now deceased). Sly old fox that he was, he still had his attendance records and wanted to know why I had missed class on such and such a day,etc. I suggest you might try looking up your professor and perhaps doing the same.

    Bartram: He founded the oldest continuously operated botanical garden in America.A trip there is well worth the effort. He was also responsible for shipping hundred of thousands of plants and seed to England during the 18th century. His writings have been complied and they are among the most exciting travel stories ever told. I can recommend Andrea Wulf’s The Brother Gardeners if anyone wants to learn more about it.


  3. lulu says:

    A good and thought provoking read. So many questions, so few answers.

  4. Excellent post…socially significant, factually sound and lovely to read. 🙂

  5. alesiablogs says:

    no changing the world for me. I will leave that to the generation behind me to figure out. Enjoyed this post.

  6. We are using prison labor to fight the fires in the land I love almost more than anything, our back is against the wall. There are days in the Chinese capital you can’t land a plane because the pollution is so bad, and Oklahoma has 40 to 50 earth quakes each day in the areas of heaviest fracking; I know in this world that there will be those tomorrow morning who will have no drinkable water, it is just gone….I may be just a gardener in the eyes of the world, but I think about this every day.

  7. I’m not the most knowledgeable science minded person, but even I recognize waste of any kind has dire repercussions. Food, drink, money, the list goes on.

  8. Beautiful images. Some day I will have to get to Philadelphia and see Longwood and the Bartram Gardens.

  9. Karen says:

    Lovely photos from Bartram gardens and a very interesting post.

  10. Indie says:

    Beautiful pictures! I do agree – I think one person can change the world, but most people are not up to the sacrifice and commitment needed. But I know that each person can change the world that is right around them. I’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of environmental awareness just in my lifetime, so I do hope that more people working together will help things. We’ve done way too much damage already, but I do hope things can change eventually. One of the problems is that greed is a hard thing to overcome…

  11. Loretta says:

    Great post, and yes if only……. I’m not sure I’ve heard of Bartram Gardens, will have to check that out for sure. I loved the pictures. Oh and by the way, you asked me to alert you when I had my Ward’s Island post up, it is up now 🙂

  12. debsgarden says:

    Donna, one thing I know for sure is that everything is interconnected. The earth was put together with amazing checks and balances, and for the most part man is unaware of the cascading consequences of his actions. Your images of John Bertram’s gardens are wonderful. Thank you.

  13. A.M.B. says:

    “Anyone who thinks they can change the world by themselves is either miraculous, delusional or dangerous.” So true! Great post, Donna.

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