The phrase “Plants Are Not Optional” first came to my attention when a co-worker showed up in the office one Monday morning with the phrase on a bright green button affixed to his messenger bag. It was love at first sight (with the button, not the messenger) and I wanted to know everything about it. Unfortunately, all I could get from him was that he had received the button at the US Botanic Garden that weekend.
I took to the internet and Google lead me to a blog with the following quotation attributed to Douglas Tallamy.
“Plants are not optional on this planet … . Nearly every creature … owes its existence to plants, the only organism capable of capturing the sun’s energy and, through photosynthesis, turning that energy into food for the rest of us.”
Apparently Tallamy has written a book on the subject titled Bringing Nature Home and you can find out more about him and his book here.
I was so taken with the phrase, and the button, that at Christmas time I had a batch made and I gave them out to co-workers, friends, and family. I’m looking at mine as I write this.
Back in May, I was running errands one day and noticed that a set of the oft-wasted interstitial triangles of land, created by clover leaf highway entrances + exits, was full of bright red poppies! This particular installation is at the grade-separated intersection of Routes 50 and 28 in Chantilly, VA and, due to rain, this photograph was taken a few days after the peak bloom.
I will totally confess to getting onto the Route 28 overpass just so I could take this photograph. I will also admit that at that time I realized I could do even better, so I videoed my descent from Route 28 back on to Route 50. Yes, I was that excited. You can watch it here:
I just love the dynamic reveal of the carpet of red as you come around the bend.
I noticed this plant for the first time a few days ago as I walked past a neighbor’s yard. I’m quite taken with the intense contrast between the icy white-blue foliage and the eye-popping yellow flowers. I saw it again by the neighborhood pool, leading me to think it’s common, but I still haven’t identified it – do you know what it is?
One could read and write tomes on the ecological, economic and social importance of plants. At the most basic level, we need plants to produce oxygen to breathe and food to eat, but you know that already, and still you forget about the importance of plants in daily life. And so, I’m opting to use beauty, and unabashed geeky plant-lover curiosity and knowledge, to sway you to care, to advocate for and to make places large and small where plants, and people, can thrive.