Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ferns on the Mall

Greetings! It's been a long time since my last post. My work at the Smithsonian has kept me really busy, but we're making progress! Unfortunately I haven't done any ferning or field-tripping since I've been here, so I have no new pictures of ferns in the wild, but I did come across some ferns in a most unexpected place: the National Mall. I happened to look up from my book one morning while on the shuttle, and there, right in front of the Smithsonian Castle, where these benches! They looked really familiar, and sure enough, they are replicas of the 1870 Fern and Blackberry garden seat I wrote about several months ago. There's actually a website that discusses the various outdoor furnishings in the Smithsonian gardens, but alas, it doesn't mention these benches explicitly, only citing them as illustrative of the "naturalistic" period of furnishings. I'll have to make up my own story about how they were chosen (involving some clear-eyed visionary who recognized the beauty, modesty, and steadfastness of ferns and felt that they were a perfect symbol to sit before a great repository of knowledge).

I'm afraid I won't have many more opportunities for fern-viewing until late July, when I go to Vancouver, B.C., Washington State, and Oregon, for the annual Botanical Society of America conference and some time in the field. The blog will likely be light until then, as I wrap up this stint in D.C. and head home to Madison. I should have a lot to write about once that next trip begins!

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