says Lubkowitz, “education puts kids in silos. Problems like climate change and solutions like recycling require new lenses.” The phrase emergent properties, Lubkowitz explains, describes the idea that you can study all the pieces of a thing, and still not understand the whole. To understand the whole you have to step back.
We talk a little about contemplation, pilgrimage, and finding meaning. “My ambition,” says BangThis and other key concepts Jensen, “is to make a play out daily in the life of a difference where I am.” garden. Lubkowitz and Disorientation has come so Bang-Jensen are interested in fast to this culture, she all of it—the role gardens play says. “So much of our comfort in our lives, how we express derives from a sense of our individuality through gardens, how gardens matter— place.” Lubkowitz agrees: “Geography matters! aesthetically, spiritually, and Pattern recognition and practically. They are trying to familiarity are important push the idea of what a garden reasons we feel good in is to its limits. They want to gardens.” “Why else,” Bangchallenge the idea that we can Jensen asks, “would so only understand nature with many children’s books feature the mind. gardens?” FLOWERS VS. VEGETABLES
Teaching gardens are often composed of vegetables,
intended to help visitors learn more about where our food comes from. Lubkowitz admits to a lesser interest in flowers. Vegetables get him going. Bang-Jensen believes in flowers as food for the soul. “I’m just a pollinator,” she admits. Both prefer gardens to museums. “I’ve never seen a painting of a flower as beautiful as a flower,” Lubkowitz says. On Lubkowitz’s birthdays, Bang-Jensen gives him cards that feature vegetables. ACADEMIA AND PURE PLAY
“What makes me happiest,” Bang-Jensen says, “is when I see people finding new ways to use the gardens. After all, what is a garden? Does it have to be intentional?” Students often rearrange the stones in the Word Garden to leave
hidden messages, and create mini-stories and poems. Faculty create assignments around the seasons. Visitors leave lilacs and other plants to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. “We’ve become a more technological society,” Lubkowitz says, “but we are still organic creatures. We still crave nature.” Lubkowitz hopes that the gardens provide a place for meditative engagement with nature— or doing nothing but clearing the mind. On a raw spring day, students and faculty wander through the gardens. The plants in the beds are on the verge of blooming. Everything seems alive, including the stones. Beauty is everywhere.