Friday, September 7, 2012

Down the Garden Path -- Fri., Sep. 7

Perception: exaggerated and enjoyable. Today I was in my element...nature, which nurtures me. 

Definition of perception from Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.
[pərsep′shən]     Etymology: L, percipere, to perceive
1 the conscious recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli that serve as a basis for understanding, learning, and knowing or for motivating a particular action or reaction. 
2 the result or product of the act of perceiving. 

Kinds of perception include depth perception, extrasensory perception, facial perception, andstereognostic perception.
perceptive, perceptual, adj.
The place: San Antonio Botanical Garden. Temperature: 96 F. 

Time spent in the garden: 4-1/2 hours. Time spent for lunch in the Carriage House Restaurant: 1/2 hour. All time at the garden today was well spent.

My current state of mind is happy, relaxed, refreshed, enthusiastic and calm. The reason: I was able to spend as much time as I wanted meandering through the botanic garden. No time limit, no pressure, no hurrying for anyone else; my own pace, my own enjoyment, my own little luxury. For me, this was as good as or better than a spa day.

It doesn't matter that I'm hot & sweaty or that my feet are dirty. I just am. Right now I don't feel like I have a care in the world. I call today my outdoor therapy session.

The sensory stimuli I recognized today were sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. 

Sight: Multitudes of gorgeous flowers, shrubs, berries, trees, ferns, cacti, palms, and landscapes. The flowers ranged the color spectrum: brilliant white, sand, purple, multi-colored, pink, yellow, red, orange, lavender, peach, violet, green, and blue. Shapes were tubular, clusters, bell, rose, circular, star. Also included in the sight category are the animals I saw: squirrel, mallards, grackle, cardinal, red sliders, anole, lizard (unidentified at this point), sparrows, and a pyrrholuxia. The presentation of my lunch--chile braised chicken. Dinosaur replicas scattered around the landscapes. [Note: Currently a dinosaur exhibit is taking place in the gardens.] There were also sculptures and other artwork scattered throughout the gardens.

Bees like these.

Hibiscus side view.
Water lily with blue dragonfly.


Crape myrtle bark.

Japanese Garden
This flower looks like it's lit from within.

Hoja Santa -- Rootbeer plant.
Cousin Itt plant (not really, I made that up).



Smell: Scents ranged from sage, basil, mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and rootbeer to rose, viburnum, cedar, pine and a chile-braised chicken lunch.

Touch: I don't remember all the plants I touched in the Garden for the Blind, but I do remember velvety, soft, rough, and grainy. Also included in touch would be my feet in sandals walking on paths of dirt, concrete, or ground rock and the touch of the wind on my face, and mist all around me in the Fern Grotto building.

Taste: Lunch in The Carriage House Restaurant was Chile Braised Chicken. I believe it was the best preparation of chicken I've ever tasted. [I'm sure it must have been about 1,000 calories--although I only ate half and took half home to Bob.] The chicken was braised in a sauce of chiles, tomatoes, onions, butter, corn and spices. So melt-in-my-mouth delicious. The lunch came with a choice of salad, and bread cubes with strawberry butter. For dessert I had a black-bottom cupcake.

Sounds: Wind in the trees, ducks quacking, docents explaining, birdsong, waterfalling, misters misting, flowing water, fans blowing, children laughing, cameras clicking, cars going by, quiet talking, people discussing dinosaur exhibits.

San Antonio Botanic Garden isn't the largest garden I've ever seen by any means, but I'm from the West Coast and Hawaii. Never having lived in Texas, I was not familiar with many species of trees, shrubs, flowers, and wild berries that are common here. This garden enlightened and educated me. Three of their paths were exhibits of Texas-type landscapes (see #1 through #3 in the list below). Almost all trees, shrubs, flowers, ferns and cacti were identified along with information on how the berries, bark, roots, flowers, whatever, are used. Usage could be by Native Americans, animals, birds or us. Fascinating. I was not bored during the time I traipsed all over the place.

Here's a list of all that you can see and learn about in San Antonio Botanical Garden, a "33-acre living museum" (per their brochure):
  1. South Texas Brush (which we lived in for two months while gate guarding): "showcases dryland trees and shrubs." There is a Bird Watch area here. 
  2. Texas Hill Country (absolutely stunning in March and April because of the wildflowers and migrating birds): "includes plants adapted to rocky alkaline soils such as live oak and Uvalde maple."
  3. East Texas Pineywoods ("acid-loving woodland species" from the border with Louisiana). This trail circles a one-acre lake with ducks, red sliders, fish--and you can feed them. For this area, dirt was brought in that is similar in type to East Texas soil. (That means these plants ain't from around here, folks. They don't want San Antonians putting in this type of landscaping as it uses more water, and the soil would have to be enhanced to support it.)
  4. Japanese Garden (very small and disappointing--don't go only because there's a Japanese Garden here).
  5. Sensory Garden (aka Garden for the Blind): fun to touch and smell the plants.
  6. Orchids and other tropicals in the Exhibit Room.
  7. Kleberg Desert Pavilion (all kinds of cacti and euphorbias, totally different from what's in the outside Cactus and Succulent Garden)
  8. Fern Grotto (very misty and humid, pretty waterfall)
  9. Northrup Tropical Room (allspice, chocolate tree, vanilla vines, and more)
  10. Orangerie (outside exhibit with potted limes, oranges, pomegranates, guavas, lemons, tangelos, and other exotic-type citrus fruits)
  11. Outdoor lily pond
  12. Palm & Cycad Pavilion-- Burlap palm, Zombia palm and cycad
  13. Cactus and Succulent Garden
  14. Formal & Display Gardens
  15. Rose Garden
  16. Old-Fashioned Garden
  17. Sacred Garden (showcases plants and trees mentioned or used in different religions)
  18. Watersaver Lane (examples of different types of xeriscaping--dry gardening)
Manicured xeriscape.

Typical American landscape (uses lots of water).

Texas Hill Country landscape.
Spanish Courtyard landscape.
Spanish Courtyard.
So, even though it was 96 F., I slathered up with sunscreen, drank lots of water, stayed in the shade as much as possible, stood in front of misters (in the Fern Grotto), stood over powerful fans (in the tropical room), and ate lunch in a nicely air-conditioned restaurant after I'd been outside for 3-1/2 hours. I feel great.

If you're into learning and into plants, I highly recommend this garden. It would be even better in the spring when more plants are blooming, but I was happy with what I saw today. That just means I'll be going back in different seasons to see what each holds.

Tonight, Bob took me out to see "The Bourne Legacy." We both loved it. This is an exciting, edge-of-your-seat thriller based on the Jason Bourne books. It was a little hard to follow because of all the locations. Still, it's one of the better movies we've seen this year.
    On a totally different note...You know how you look up one thing, but end up surfing to something totally different? Well, here's where I ended up. Do you know what cat's whiskers are called (besides whiskers)?

    vi·bris·sa from
    noun, plural vi·bris·sae[-BRIS-ee]  

    1. one of the stiff, bristly hairs growing about the mouth of certain animals, as a whisker of a cat.
    2. one of the long, slender, bristle-like feathers growing along the side of the mouth in many birds.

    Now you know.

    Happy, peaceful Travel Bug out. (Or, as we used to say, "Peace out.")