By-Paths to Gardening

There are numberless introductions to gardening possible via the family automobile. They are tangential, not at all concerned with the realities of home gardens. But they do have a sight-seeing or staged-show quality which may well heighten a child's interest. Impressive collaborations between man and nature are spread across our country. They are sights in their own right, whether temporary or permanent-not mere meccas for flower-show and garden-club devotees. In a sense they present gardening in theatrical and fancy dress.

Floral celebrations. If you vacation by car, watch for special events of a gardening character to blend into your customary sight-seeing. Somewhere, all through the year there are festivals, tours, pilgrimages, flower parades and other celebrations. If Holland, Michigan, is on or near your route at tulip-time, the tulip gala this city stages annually is worth showing the children. Asheville, N.C., has a rhododendron festival. The lilacs of New England are a show in themselves. Dogwood blooms at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, draw thou­sands of spectators in the spring. The rose festivals of Pasadena, California, and Portland, Oregon, are nationally famous.

Large private gardens. Perhaps an automobile trip may someday take you in the vicinity of one of the immense private gardens that are open to the public. Some of these are fabulous enough to enchant a child. They are to be found in all parts of the country.

Public parks. Many of our great public parks are worth a special visit for their horticultural wonders. There is, for example, the Japanese garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, whose miniature perfections should transport a sym­pathetic child. During July and August there are delightful surprises at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. Here you can see waterlilies and lotuses from all over the world. Their most amazing display is an East Indian lotus plant grown from seeds believed to be about a thousand years old-probably the oldest seeds ever germinated. The Para­guayan waterlily is also grown at Kenilworth, ready to astound youngsters with leaves some six feet in diameter, capable of supporting the weight of a small child.

Botanical gardens. Plant museums are scattered through­out the country. They are properly called botanical gardens, and they are an important facet of the gardening world. They tend to specialize in certain plant groups, such as orchids, wild-flowers, medicinal plants, cacti or desert plants. Often an automobile trip will carry the family near one of these botanical gardens, and a brief stop to examine their displays is rarely a mistake.