Volunteer Voices: Beauty of Concrete

Volunteer Voices: Beauty of Concrete

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day was scheduled to take place on April 22, 2020. While we were unable to celebrate in person this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hoyt Arboretum’s volunteers found unique ways to celebrate while staying home, like volunteer Tour Guide Clara-Julia Peru:

Since I have been laid off, and therefore quarantined, I have spent more time in my garden. I’ve also been exploring my neighborhood a lot, enjoying the gardens and spring’s usual blooms.

I remembered a French artist, Frédérique Soulard, who wanted to reconnect city residents with nature. She decided to write the Latin names of wild plants growing along sidewalks in chalk. Her project’s name is Belles de Bitumes, or “Beauty of Concrete.”

This has inspired me and a few of my neighbors to name the wild plants growing in my yard. I started a few weeks ago, naming borage, chamomile, lemon balm and other plants that have a medicinal use but are considered “weeds.” For Earth Day, I have decided to name my trees and bushes like the Pacific red cedar and Quercus ilex.

As many of my neighbors are enjoying wandering now more than ever, I am happy to share a little knowledge as a unique opportunity to reconnect with our environment and natural playground — native, unique, rare or unexpected! Happy Earth Day!

About the Author

Clara-Julia Peru is a French poet and photographer who takes most of her inspiration into nature and exploration. She also has been working in the hospitality industry for the past 10 years along with Michelin star and James Beard award winning chefs. She started volunteering at Hoyt Arboretum last year to be involved in her community while knowing more about native and unique plants and trees.

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