Thursday, July 16, 2009

Smoke Signals

A neighbor, Elizabeth Fasulo, sent this photo from her iPhone today. I had to laugh when I saw it and read her comment, "I thought you might enjoy this ironic juxtaposition of a no-smoking sign and tobacco plants outside the National Museum of the American Indian."

I'm not only enjoying the irony, but it also reminds me of the culture clash between Native beliefs against signs and labeling that the NMAI staff told me they are having to deal with in their mission to educate the public and respect Native cultures. The public wants all of the plants labeled and garden rooms named and explained. The Native tribe representatives want visitors to experience the grounds without any signs or labels whatsoever to let the plants and wildlife speak directly to each person. In other words, the public should stop expecting to be spoon-fed information and they should just chill and let the messages come to them. If you have visited the NMAI gardens lately, you'll have noticed that explanation signs have been added. They are supposed to be discrete and limited.

Since DC lies in the heart of what used to be tobacco plantation territory, even GW had a big crop of it growing at his estate across the river, this plant should most definitely be part of any representational garden of local agricultural history.

Now the question is were folks actually plucking and attempting to smoke these (green!) tobacco leaves? Or was it an attempt to stop the public from even considering it? Or just a poor placement of a public information sign?


FirePhrase said...

Maybe this is an area right near the door. I hate it when smokers congregate right near the front door to get their nic fix. Bless 'em. I know it's urgent, but they need to get out of the flight path before they start polluting the air.

Actually having a designated outdoor smoking area (out of the heavy traffic area) that is landscaped with tobacco plants would be educational, eco-friendly, compassionate to our addicted friends, and a pretty good sight gag.

WashingtonGardener said...

Agreed that smokes clogging up doorways are pretty annoying. Just like the tourists who get off the Metro and then stop dead in their tracks to get their bearings - keep it moving folks - it IS possible to read the signage, walk and talk at the same time!
To the best of my memory, the tobacco plants are nowhere near the main entrance - this is "in back" though there may be a staff/exit near by. I'm hoping somebody from Si/edu or NMAI will respond, have left a few messages today.

rb said...

This may be old news but...I recently learned from a horticulturist that tobacco plants discourage deer. He has planted some in his suburban back yard garden, solely as a deer repellent.
Wonder if it will fit among the Hostas

WashingtonGardener said...

Hmm, RB, I like that deer repellent use. Certainly worth a try, though may need a bit more sun than your hosta beds might get.

jessica said...

Wow.. i like gardening..nice blog
Thanks for sharing..@@

Get 28 movie channels for 3 months free