The Visionary Gardner

My son-in-law shared the following story.

A few years ago, I noticed the landscaping on the campus of the Foreign Service Institute was changing dramatically.  Instead of the regular array of annuals and shrubs and grass and two or three species of trees, someone started planting a variety of interesting perennials from all over the world.  I learned that a landscape designer and horticulturalist named Darren DeStefano had a new vision for the grounds.  Given the international focus of the students at the Institutde, Mr. DeStefano was determined to create a landscape that reflected the students’ experiences and goals.  Now every time I go to FSI, I feel excited to see how the landscape is changing and growing.  For example, there is a new flock of monkey puzzle trees on one side of the campus and a grouping of river birch in an area where water naturally collects.

Occasionally, Mr. DeStefano gives walking tours of the grounds to talk about his vision and teach people about the newly planted species.  I have never been on one of those tours, but I am determined to not miss the next one.  I met an FSI employee this week who spoke enthusiastically of his own experience on one of the tours.  He said many of the changes Mr. DeStefano has made have been through donations of plants and rocks that were otherwise not going to be used anywhere.  Then I spoke to a friend who works there and she too spoke with genuine enthusiasm about her experience on a tour.  She mentioned that Mr. DeStefano is gathering oak seedlings from all over the world for one section of the grounds.  Whatever it is that Mr. DeStefano is doing, his vision has definitely captured the imaginations of those who work there.

I am grateful for a visionary gardener who inspires people who work in the context he is creating.  I am thankful to ponder on the impact of a person who insists on creating beauty.  I am also grateful to consider the impact of that same person deliberately planning tours for employees to help them understand and appreciate the changes as they grow.

I am struck by the fact that in any context, at any level of an organization we can choose to inspire and have impact on others.  Every contribution is important to the creation of a positive organization.

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