I recently strolled around the magnificent grounds of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and there were many things worth remembering: the garden filled with each and every plant mentioned by Shakespeare in his plays and poems (apparently donated by Henry C. Folger, he of the Folger Shakespeare library); the incredibly old bonsai trees; the Japanese meditation pond filled where turtles sunbathed on the stones; the greenhouse filled with rain forest plants, the lily pond and the rock garden. and the Celebrity Path with its paving stones engraved with the names of famous Brooklynites (including Joe Torre, Woody and Arlo Guthrie, Jackie Gleason, Bill Gaines of Mad magazine, Marianne Moore, Mae West, Henny Youngman and Harry Houdini!).
But best of all was my discovery of a plant called the Sensitive Plant, which is found in the tropics and semi-tropics, and which has leaves that curl up and droop when touched. The scientific name is mimosa pudica — mimosa is from the Greek word for mimic and pudica is from the Latin word meaning bashful or reticent.
Here’s a photo of the Sensitive Plant:
Did I touch the leaves of the Sensitive Plant? Yes, I did, and, yes, the leaves did curl slightly. Did its reaction remind me of some people I’ve known? Did I think of people I’ve known who couldn’t let down their guard, people who were unreachable and prickly and defensive? Yes, I did, and I even saw a few of them, prickly and threatening, when I went from the rain forest greenhouse to the desert greenhouse, and strolled amongst the somber and silent cacti.