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By Marc Hachadourian


As a child, awestruck by the dinosaur skeletons at the Museum of Natural History, I dreamed of becoming a paleontologist. I imagined unearthing mysteries and monsters from ages long past. Like many children, I had no idea what my future would truly hold, but I could imagine that giant reptiles still roamed the earth – with me as the Indiana Jones of this lost world.


Little did I know that my destiny held not fossils but flowers. Yet the path I followed still flows from a passion for the natural world, an enthusiasm I shared with anyone who would listen.


My journey has led me to one of the world’s great institutions, The New York Botanical Garden. As a curator and horticulturist, I help educate people on the spectacular array of plant life. I want others to reclaim the sense of wonder that is too often lost as we grow, burdened with the responsibilities that consume our daily lives. The botanical world is so much more than roses and lilacs; it is full of medicines, novelty, and history.



To most, nature is a thing of mystery, filled with the unknown. And that disconnect between our daily lives and the natural world can make teaching an appreciation for nature quite a challenge. From a casual view, a garden is a peaceful sanctuary, but on closer look it is bustling with activity. It is a place, too, to which we are all connected. Botanical gardens are a great way to renew that connection. We are a part of our surroundings and an active participant.

A garden is not just a destination, but something to be experienced with all the senses – a place overflowing with colors, fragrances, textures, sounds, and flavors. By opening the eyes and minds of visitors to the importance of plants and their role in the natural world, I can show them the joy that comes from discovering that world. I can also help them move toward a more sustainable life. That does not mean a complete change in who you are, but simply living in greater harmony with the environment that you are a part of. Being a good neighbor can benefit you as much as other organisms. It can help you find your own personal paradise.

That awestruck child is still alive and well within me. Rather than a swashbuckling hero, I now see myself more like the Lorax, the Dr. Seuss character, who through persistence became a champion. “I speak for the trees,” he said, “for the trees have no tongues.” Through the creation and cultivation of gardens, I can help people appreciate the beauty and fragility of the natural world – and preserve that beauty for generations to come. I always hope that, through my efforts, people are inspired to find a lasting connection to that world.

We can prevent another part of it from following the dinosaur to a subterranean grave. Making nature part of your life means that it will exist not only in the fertile imaginations of future generations. We can draw pleasure in experiencing the world that surrounds us. Come to the garden and share the joy of discovery. And don’t forget to bring a friend.

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