Longwood Botanical Garden, Pennsylvania:
The Idea Garden demonstrates plants and plantings,
juxtapositions and designs, for home gardeners.
Every Botanical Garden is an Idea Garden,
every gardener a home gardener.
Nature, expressing itself, element
by element, is an Idea Garden.
Live near a Botanical Garden: your neighborhood
will lean toward it, as though a plant learning the sun.
Plants, design features, walls, fountains, plantings,
will escape the garden walls and sneak into nearby yards.
The Botanical Garden, swept and manicured:
such Godliness promotes cleanliness for blocks and blocks.
Your clean neighborhood will make a nice entryway
to that destination, the Botanical Garden.
Take a cutting from, find a seed in, the Botanical Garden:
so planted, your neighborhood will be a Botanical Garden.
The seeds in your boot treads will take root as you visit
the Botanical Garden, which will then become your neighborhood.
The butterfly in your bush, the bird in your redbud,
fly into the Botanical Garden without boundaries.
Colorful wings flutter, birdsong warbles,
humming wings nudge their way into any flower.
The Botanical Garden, your neighborhood, earth
and sky, are one place. Nature is one place.
All Ideas welcomed into this garden.
~ Thomas Fox Averill
An O. Henry Award story writer, Thomas Fox Averill is Writer-in-Residence at Washburn University of Topeka, KS. His novel, rode, published by the University of New Mexico Press, was named Outstanding Western Novel of 2011 as part of the Western Heritage Awards. His recent work, “Garden Plots,” consists of poems, meditations, and short-short stories about gardens, gardeners, garden design, plants, and the human relationship to nature. His most recent novel is A Carol Dickens Christmas, which won the Byron Caldwell Smith Award from the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, and was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2015.
Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Thorny Locust, and other journals. Sheldon is a two-time AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, and has appeared on Kansas Public Radio.