The Garden of the Future

Big changes are coming to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. As members we get the newsletters and the press releases and all that fun stuff and there are exciting things on the horizon. The gardens are about to go through a lot of changes and it is going to be great. A lot more non-native plants are going to be brought in and areas are going to be added and expanded and it will all be ready in 2023.

That sounds like a long way off to some people but it is only two years from now. The real changes to the gardens aren’t anything anyone living now will see in their lifetimes. The gardens have replanted long-leaf pines that were native to this area at the time that the first British arrived. The British arrived and they scarred the land and left damages that take a long time to heal. It is said that the coastal forests of Virginia once rivaled the red wood forests of California, but the trees here were so good for building that now none remain.

The Norfolk Botanical Gardens planted long-leaf pines. You can go and look at the saplings now but the trees take 100 years to reach maturity. 100 years to grow into what they are meant to be and that is only a fraction of what is possible. Trees don’t stop growing. They add more rings.

When these trees are at maturity they will reach the heavens and be an impressive sight, indeed, but no one living today will see it. I know I will not be around in 100 years and I doubt my children will either. Perhaps the grandkids I have will be, and I can tell them to go see the trees for me in 2121.

That is such a long way off. I don’t know if that will even be my grandkids. Or it could be if they live to 80 or my children wait like me. I don’t think I will get to see my great-grandkids but I can put it in my will that my grandkids have to tell their children to go see the trees for me.

The action by the Norfolk Botanical Gardens is what it means to be human. It is an action that benefits no one living today. The gardens could have used that space and planted flowers or trees that will reach maturity and bloom much sooner but instead they are using it to revive a species that was lost to the region that no one will see at maturity until 100 years from now.

It is always best to keep in mind that we are borrowing the planet from the future.

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