by germinatrix | June 13th, 2009
Have you ever been in a Mangrove forest?
They are dark and mysterious, primeval and impenetrable – they are marvels of design.
Mangroves are species of trees and shrubs that grow in estuaries of brackish waters that dominate the coastlines all along the tropics. The most common mangrove is Rhisophera mangle. I met these amazing trees years ago in Puerto Rico, and became reacquainted with them a few months ago in the Yucatan. It was a very early morning, and I was treated to a special boat ride through the Mangrove forest to a small island where herons nest.
When you find yourself among the mangroves, you understand that there are churches all over in the natural world. Here, there are gothic arches of tall, leggy roots, mosaic ceilings of dark green leaves, a chorus of birds singing hymns in warbles and trills… the whole thing is an ecstatic expression of a pagan spirit.
We floated slowly through a great hallway of trees (I was sure they’d come alive and wade over to us), and then into the open water, which suddenly seemed too exposed. The mangroves felt so protective and made a very serene environment. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the coziness provided by the leggy trees – smaller mangrove islands were clustered around the lagoons, and in them were dozens and dozens of heron’s nests. We got so close I could see them breathing!
A shocking fact – HALF of the worlds mangrove forests are gone – lost to coastal development. I HATE to be preachy, but come on – is it SO important to destroy ancient swamp forests so that another all-inclusive mega-resort can be built as close as humanly possible to the ocean? Who makes these decisions? Are they just not paying attention to the state of the world? Much of the damage from tsunamis and hurricanes would be mitigated if the natural barriers between ocean and land masses were intact. Like I said, mangroves are a wonder of design – beautiful and useful. Nature isn’t really very random. Most things have a purpose.
I want to bring the feeling of these swampy forests into a garden. I think experiencing the wonders of nature is a crucial step in the design process – actually, I believe experiencing the wonders of nature is a crucial step in the living process. When we see the beauty and feel the peace, when we know that life is flourishing in these special places, it makes it that much harder to say nothing in the face of their destruction. Save the Mangroves!