Native Son: Yin, Yang, and a Touch of Meraki

Meraki is a Greek term used to describe the passion, heart, and soul that an artist (or anyone) puts into creating something. A ball of clay is only that until shaped into something else, whether that something turns out to be a crude ashtray or some magnificent piece of art. Paint is just paint until an artist creates a portrait. A landscape is just a pile of plants until someone shapes it into a garden. Maybe just put another way, meraki is simply the magic people put into raw materials.

Of course, I like to think I’m one of those people who is just full of meraki. Come to think of it, I’ve had many folks tell me I’m full of it … but they keep pronouncing it “malarky.”

I wondered if any of my meraki was still hanging around one of my former gardens, so I took a little road trip to find out.

Spring break and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden (FWBG) is flooded with a sea of people. Strollers everywhere, kids running with abandon, seniors holding hands, quincinera dresses glittering; all searching a little magic … and they have found the mother lode.

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I first visited the FWBG in the late 1970’s, and I can tell you sincerely that the place has never had as much color as today. Tulips for miles … with smartly designed photo-op spots. Spring flowering trees celebrating the season. The surreal tableau of the Japanese Garden. And my favorite part … the colors of the people walking around. The people of Fort Worth have truly embraced the garden … you can feel the energy! It’s enough to make you believe in magic.

Intoxicatingly fragrant Korean Spice viburnum.
Tulips for miles! Click image for larger view.
Yet another stellar display of tulips.
Tulips can be crazy big! (And I have a big paw.)
Freaky meraki! Twigs are just twigs until someone makes magic.
Those guys at the bottom of the cascades have almost completed the fountain overhaul at the newly remodeled Rose Ramp. Yes!!! Click image for larger view.
This crabapple tree is just beginning its month-long display of multi-hued blossoms.
The newly-rebuilt Moon Bridge is a showstopper.
This highly trained ginkgo tree has been carefully pruned for decades. Its intricate structure will soon be shrouded beneath beautiful new foliage … until next winter, when it will be meticulously pruned again.
A superbly crafted waterfall easily mesmerizes me with its balance, grace, and gentle movement.

First-time visitors may well think the whole place is under construction, but I am overjoyed to see so many deferred maintenance projects finally underway. In particular, the Cascade feature on the Rose Ramp. Cranky old pumps and crumbling plumbing that have plagued the system for more than 40 years are finally being fully renovated. (I worked on that system once upon a time myself back in the late 1980s … it needed a complete overhaul way back then!)

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I have seen the ol’ BG on glorious days of beauty … and I have been there following storms that brought the place to its knees. I’ve loved there, laughed there, learned there, and cried there. Sounds a lot like life.

Life has taught me that nothing is permanent. Ancient redwoods fall, rivers change course, creatures go extinct. That just seems to be the way life is. Sometimes people’s meraki lives on for centuries … Michelangelo’s David, the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge. Sometimes meraki is gone in a flash … a chef’s brilliant meal, an incredible concert, fireworks…and that multi-million-dollar painting that was shredded as soon as it was sold. Maybe the point is to treasure the moment. Maybe one’s meraki can capture a moment and hold onto it for a moment. For you, me, and all of us … that moment is now.


Just so you know … the Longview Arboretum & Nature Center is OPEN! Hours are 10am-5pm, Wednesday through Saturday; Sunday 12 noon-5pm. Come out and see us! And bring your own brand of Zen! 903-212-2181

Longview Arboretum & Nature Center’s 2023 Spring Concert Series starts March 30 and runs through April 27. Thursday evenings from 6 to 8pm. Come and bring your blankets, lawn chairs, food and beverages and pick your favorite spot to sit on the Great Lawn! Tickets will be available online prior to the event or at the gate. The West Maude Cobb gate will open at 5pm. Parking at Maude Cobb Event Center.

I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town too small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
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