My usual response to growing things is a greedy, “nice garden, what’s edible?,” but I recently visited Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens new exhibit, which recreates a tropical forest environment in Thailand, and loved it.
For one thing, when the weather is maxing out at below freezing outside, it’s wonderful to walk into a tropical environment, where they have to keep the fans on and you get to take your coat off. Even better, because Phipps has focused on environmentally friendly building (oxide fuel cells, energy blankets, thermal massing and root zone heating for those of you in the know) there’s no need to feel guilty about wandering about in mid-70s weather in the middle of winter.
Best of all — the good folks at Phipps invited Buddhist monks to bless this Thai tropical forest so that it could be spirit-friendly, as well as eco-friendly.
Ellen James of Phipps explained, “Anytime there is new construction in Thailand, spirits who lived in the trees and the land have been distrubed and need to be welcomed back to the structure. The blessing was conducted by Buddhist monks but the ceremony has its roots in animism. There are two spirit houses in the tropical forest where the spirits can now live. In Thailand spirit houses are everywhere in front of small huts to large corporate headquarters. People leave offerings like flowers, rain water, cigarettes, and fanta soda.