Posts Tagged ‘The Floral Library’

Types of Cherry Blossom People

While I was spending time at the Tidal Basin again this afternoon I couldn’t help but notice there were almost as many people there today as cherry blossoms. And while some people were there to truly appreciate the beauty of the annual diva-ish spectacle, others in the crowd seemed to be there for other reasons. Some of these people probably saw it as the “in” thing to do, and they didn’t want to feel left out. Some were students on school field trips, and were simply glad to be outside of the confines of their classrooms. Some were members of out-of-town tour groups who seemed to be there so they could check it off their bucket lists.  And many seemed to be there just for a quick photo-op, so that they could then post a photo of the blossoms or, better yet, themselves with the blossoms, on social media.  They seemed like they were in such a hurry.  And instead of being present in the moment, these people mostly looked at the blossoms through camera lenses and cell phone screens, like they probably do with most events in theirs and their children’s lives.

But as I said, some people who were there seemed to truly appreciate the beauty. There were artists with their easels set up just off the beaten path, using paint and their imaginations to put their interpretations on canvasses. There were writers and poets lazily jotting down their impressions in leather-bound journals. There were musicians performing for others, or for just themselves, enjoying the setting in which they performed. There were also older couples on benches holding hands, and younger couples on the grass under the trees, sitting quietly with each other and simply gazing at the blossoms. Still others were leisurely strolling around and taking in the beauty that surrounded them before slowly moving on to take in even more. These are the kind of people who I saw there previously, witnessing the future promise of the emerging green buds, or the gnarly beauty of the trunks of the aged trees before they got all dressed up in their white and pink early-spring attire. They are the people who also enjoy the lesser-known but equally beautiful local sites like the colorful azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum, the bright tulips near the Netherlands Carillon, the seasonal offerings available at The National Park Service’s Floral Library, and the flowering dogwood trees on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building. These people added to the atmosphere rather than just adding to the crowd. They were there to contemplate and be captivated by the beauty, and not just there to attend an event.

While every person had their own story and reason for being there, the people seemed to fall into two general categories. And these two types of people usually go through their entire lives in the same way they spent their time today at The Tidal Basin. One type will have temporary memories that fade into obscurity as quickly as the cherry blossoms and crowds disappear. At best they will end up with just photographs that capture the opportunity they missed to actually experience in real time the true beauty that was right in front of them.  The other type of person takes with them the memories of the moments they spent today, moments that they experienced rather than moments they chased. And it is these moments that added together make for a beautiful and appreciated life well lived.  What type of person are you?  And is it the type you want to be?

There are many libraries in the nation’s capitol.  There are municipal libraries, law libraries, and specialty libraries like The Folger Shakespeare Library.  The largest library in the world, The Library of Congress, is also located in D.C.  But there is one very popular library that has no books, and it is officially named The Floral Library.

On a recent bike ride I visited The Floral Library.  But it is better known during this time of the year as “The Tulip Library” because the entire garden is replanted each spring with over 10,000 tulip bulbs that are flown in from Holland and the Netherlands.  Often never known about until accidentally stumbled upon, “The Library” is a secret garden hiding in plain sight.  It is located on Independence Avenue in southwest D.C. between The Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial just north of the Tidal Basin (MAP).

The Library was first planted back in 1969 as part of First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson’s Capital Beautification Project through the Society for a More Beautiful National Capital. Their goal was to improve physical conditions in D.C., for both residents and tourists by planting millions of flowers.  Her beliefs regarding the importance of national beautification can best be summarized in her statement that “where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

The Library is currently maintained by the National Mall and Memorial Parks Department of the National Park Service.  Over the years, The Library has become a popular place to make comparisons of color and shape between different types of tulips planted in individually numbered beds.  There are separate beds each showcasing one of the 95 varieties of tulips, planted in groups of 100 to 200, that can be seen at The Library.

Both professional and amateur photographers alike can be seen taking photographs at The Library, as well as small groups of tourists who cab be found meandering through the rows of tulips and stopping to admire some of the more exotic varieties that they don’t see in their neighbors’ gardens back home.  Also, adjacent to The Library is a large, open grassy area perfect for picnics or an afternoon of people-watching.

Although they are not as transient as D.C.’s springtime cherry blossoms, the tulips at The Library will be gone shortly.  The tulip season in the D.C. area lasts only from early April to the first week of May, so plan to visit The Library soon.   And plan to go back again in a few months, because during the summer the library of tulips are replaced with an annual planting of annuals.   A third planting of chrysanthemums is available for viewing in the fall of each year.


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