Welcome to the Garden Issue!
Dear readers and friends,
Welcome to the garden issue! Spring is in full bloom in Norway and around the Northern Hemisphere, and it certainly is something to celebrate, with beauty surrounding us everywhere.
For anyone who has traveled to Norway this time of year, it is hard not to be struck by the beauty of its flora. Greenery and gardens seem to be everywhere you go. Norwegian nature is spectacular, but even in the cities you see the most spectacular creations, in the many parks, in front lawns and backyards, and even in window boxes. During the spring season, all of Norway comes alive with greenery everywhere and bright colored flowers.
In our recent Royals issue, we got a glimpse into the gardens surrounding the Royal Palace in Oslo, and with our cover now, we have returned there with an image of Crown Princess Märtha surrounded by a glory of the stunning spring flora. It is almost as if she is welcoming us to springtime in Norway.
After looking at hundreds of images for our cover, this photo of Märtha is the one that called out to me most. During the past year, we have written a great deal about her story with the event of the PBS mini-series Atlantic Crossing, the story of the royal family’s flight and exile during World War II, and her place in the garden at home in Norway feels so comforting. Each day, we read of the thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are being displaced in a time of war, and it is our hope that they, too, will be able to return home someday. In the meantime, Crown Princess Märtha, together with the Norwegian people, welcomes them to Norway.
This image also appeals to me because it reminds me of my own home here in Seattle, where the flora is quite similar to that in Norway. I am most fortunate to live in one of the greenest cities in the world, so green that we call it the “Emerald City,” a city of promise with the natural beauty it offers. One of my favorite places to visit is he University of Washington campus, which also comes into full bloom with its cherry trees, rhododendrons, camellias, and other flowers each spring. One of my most favorite places is Grieg Park there, and, of course, I always think of Norway when I am there.
Seeing and experiencing natural beauty is often a healing, spiritual experience. It helps us slow down a little and feel connected to the world around us. This is not to be underestimated. A beautiful vase of flowers inside your home can even make you feel better—even just one flower.
While I, like many urban Norwegians, don’t live in a house with a backyard, that doesn’t mean that gardens and greenery aren’t important to me. Visiting a garden or park is a good excuse to get out in the fresh air and explore. I have many friends here who are involved in community gardening, and it got me thinking about the same movement in Norway and the importance of growing your own food (I love the vegetables and fruits that my gardening friends share with me). In a time when hunger around the world is growing and food prices here at home are increasing, growing your own food may not be just fun and therapeutic, but it may also be a way for people to sustain themselves through difficult times. Think of the victory gardens of the past as we look toward a better future.
In the world we live in today, it is important to look for beauty in our lives. It is everywhere if you look with open eyes. You can also cultivate this beauty, both literally and figuratively.
With each issue, in addition to a cover image, there is also the search for an appropriate quote. I am also especially fond of one that we chose for this garden issue: “We are all flowers in God’s garden. Perhaps not a rose or an orchid, but all flowers are beautiful—even the dandelions.”
What could be truer? Every human being is unique and special. As the old Ray Stevens song goes, “Everything is beautiful in its own way.” Yes, I am dating myself, but there are truths that never change. We just have to look for the best in others, the best in life, keeping an open mind with our eyes wide open. We don’t all look alike, and some of us are more fortunate than others, but inside every human being is a seed, a potential, that can be cultivated to grow and flourish.
And then, I have to thank my team for all the work they put in to make this beautiful issue happen. In particular, many thanks to Brenda, who one day said, “Why not do a garden issue?” It planted a seed that the rest of the team cultivated to bring our garden issue to life.
Wishing you a life filled with beauty,
This article originally appeared in the May 27, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.