Monday, March 14, 2011

The Place of New Beginnings, by Natalie Cone

We're always asking our friends to tell us what The Gardens means to them. For many, it's memories of learning about plants and science on Discovery Field Trips. And for more still The Gardens represents a beautiful retreat from urban stress, a place of serenity and calm. For some we are family; for some we represent romance; and for some we offer lifelong learning. Freelance writer Natalie Cone approached us about sharing her thoughts about what The Gardens mean to her, and we couldn't be happier to share her story. What do The Gardens mean to you? Tell us!

Birmingham Botanical Gardens has always held a special place in my heart. It has always been my personal mini-retreat when I felt the walls of my personal little life closing in. I would park my car, leaving the stress and negativity behind the moment I stepped into The Gardens.

My first stop was always the Hill Garden. The lily pads and blooms seemed weightless as they poised atop the placid, rectangular pool of water. My spirits immediately lightened as I watched them float effortlessly. As I continued to peruse through the rest of The Gardens, my heart lightened more and more with each scent, color and texture that surrounded me.

I suppose it was no surprise then, when my husband proposed to me, that I chose this as the location to exchange our vows. Nothing meant more to me than making a lifelong commitment to each other in the very place that has brought so much peace to my heart. On April 19, 2008, we had the most beautiful wedding I’d ever seen in the Hill Garden. We were married under a perfectly blue sky in a Garden that boasted its glory in full bloom. My smile never faded throughout the entire day, and I reflect on that day with bliss and gratitude.

Our lives have since come full-circle. Our first son is due to make his appearance into this world on April 26. I’ve returned to Birmingham Botanical Gardens with a full-moon of a tummy, taking my usual rest by the lily pool. I look forward to, even more, being able to give my newborn son a tour of the place that I love so much, watching his sweet eyes take in the flowers, leaves, trees and tiny wildlife that fill the Gardens with so much life. This place knows my footprint well, and will soon know the tiny footprints of my family as we return again and again to enjoy God’s own art show known as Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

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