On Tuesday, my friend Le Flaneur and I went to the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx to see the exhibit Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers. Two large rooms in the Enid Haupt Conservatory were given over to an interpretation of Emily Dickinson’s garden at The Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, which is only about 45 miles from us in Heath. There were wonderful plantings of the flowers that grew in her garden, some of which inspired her poetry. The exhibit will run until June 13. It has everything, flowers, veggies, poetry and history.
I didn’t see any poetry about red nicotiana, but I can understand why Emily and other gardeners plant it. In our climate we treat it as an annual, but the sweet fragrance is all the reason one needs to include this somewhat leggy, sprawly plant. Nicotiana, sometimes called flowering tobacco, is related to the kind of tobacco that you smoke, but it is also a member of the Solanaceae family which means it is related to deadly nightshade, tomatoes and eggplant.
After spending happy hours at the Emily exhibit which included A Poetry Walk that included many of her poems inspired by the garden and the natural world, and a quick tour of the Rose Garden where a few roses were just beginning to bloom, we set off for Arthur Avenue just a few blocks away. Arthur Avenue is a kind of Little Italy – good food! One of the more exotic emporiums gave space to four cigar makers, rolling tobacco leaves into very nice cigars. I guess this store figures after a wonderful meal, the men will want a good cigar – and they want to supply that too.
Tobacco is native to the New World and was smoked only on ceremonial occasions. When Europeans learned about tobacco they quickly decided that it could be sold in their home countries and used recreationally in snuff, and for smoking.
I am not a smoker – and I prefer the sweet fragrance of flowering nicotiana.