Finding Inspiration and a Second Childhood at the Memphis Botanic Garden

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a big city and didn’t have a backyard, or that by the time I had the house and yard, I was too busy with kids and career to worry about making it whimsical. Maybe those are my excuses , but when I found My Big Backyard at The Memphis Botanic Garden (www.memphisbotanicgarden.com) I found all the imagination and charm one adult or child might want. It’s definitely the place for my second childhood.

My first visit , a weekday morning with bright sun and a whisper of clouds , was perfect for shooting infrared. As I entered the outdoor house with its moss-covered sofa and chair,vintage kitchen stove and refrigerator, beds and bath,  enchanted me. (I’d die for the outdoor shower with purple tub.) I could imagine listening to bedtime stories under the stars on one of the iron beds . It would be wonderful if they ‘d plant a patchwork quilt coverlet of flowers on each bed.

From this first visit I was hooked. It ‘s like having my own secret place without the work and I keep returning. Each time I visit my photos are different, and there are changes – in color , placement and additions.It grows.

The enormous treehouse , metal chrysalis swing , and house of twigs enchanted my camera for hours.The hand of artists is felt throughout the area. Birdhouses, bottle trees, sculpture, scarecrows, and treehouse art makes the garden a living gallery.

Recently, visit I was intrigued by how making music is such an integral part of the site. In the playhouse are making materials that include flip-flops as rhythm instruments, a xylophone of wrenches , and a set of chimes made from metal wineglasses (would make a  great Pinterest project). Right in front is a wooden bench of which the seat is a xylophone. I’d love one of those for my backyard. Sounds also include a half-hourly thunderstorm and spray at Raindrop Stop.

You need your imagination to dress scarecrows, crawl through anthills, or climb a spider’s web. You can put on a puppet show or take up residence in a person – sized doghouse . Each experience is multi-sensory, but the one I find myself using the most is the sense of delight.

After reading about the next addition coming to the garden, Candy Plant Land, I can’t wait to see Licorice Leap, climb Big Rock Candy Mountain or stroll through Marshmallow Meadow. It will be an interactive game and Candyland was my early favorite. I was always so excited when I got the ice cream card.I suppose I will need to volunteer to babysit a friend’s children so that I can explore My Big Backyard through a child’s eyes.I’ll also bring my sweet tooth and camera.

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About unsouthernbelle

I am a native New Yorker , transplanted to Memphis, who is a photographer, teacher, and wanderer. I am inspired by the beauty and stories that resonate from abandoned places and found objects. View all posts by unsouthernbelle

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