September 14 -from the AU Gardens Newsletter



“And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there”. -Francis Scott Key from The Star-Spangled Banner. 


I was at the University of Maryland in the early nineties and just beginning my journey in Landscape Architecture.  The professor of my first studio class was a well-known Architect out of Fredrick Maryland.  The final project was a live client from his firm, the Mount Olivet Cemetery.  A seemingly easy project, however much tougher than one would think.  The original design was ornate and curvy.  As if a bird dropped a series of paisleys on the earth, molding them into the hillsides yet allowing the roads to function in a reasonable way, giving access to each site.  It was a small wooded park-like setting and our goal was to form an adjacent barren cornfield into a complimentary rolling antique with function. 


You may well be putting the pieces of the design of a cemetery and September 14 together at this point.  Mount Olivet Cemetery is the resting place of Francis Scott Key, a historic Frederick resident.  And on the morning of September 14 Key sat in a British ship awaiting, dawn to expose a beaten Baltimore.  He had successfully negotiated the release of a Washington colleague onboard a British vessel on the 13th, but having then the information about the upcoming bombardment was commanded to stay until they were done destroying Fort McHenry.  When dawn wicked over the Chesapeake the tattered stars and stripes still flew above the fort.  The British themselves were shocked to not see the Union Jack and soon gave up.  Key’s pride in America and the emotional events of watching from afar without the ability to even warn spawned his penning the poem - The Star-Spangled Banner, which now is our national anthem. 

photo by ;  Garth Woodruff

photo by ;  Garth Woodruff


Over the next week this song, along with countless fireworks, demonstrating the bombs bursting in air, will blanket each town in America.  The “Red, White and Blue” is already being hung from front porches and town halls that often are bare.  We will all celebrate our freedom and our brave with the color of summer and fireworks in the sky.  I see it everywhere.  My oatmeal this morning had fresh strawberries and blueberries on it.  It was a bowl of red, white and blue.  I collect a basket of food from the farm just as many of you.  And it sits on my counter like a bouquet of fireworks.


The rainbow diet isn’t truly a diet but an ism for eating.  The notion is that the more diverse and colorful a plate of food the broader the spectrum of healthy components.  It’s a simple way to provide your body with what it needs without being a chemist.  The processing of food has deleted it of color.  Our progress to a white diet has second handedly stolen both the beauty and function the earth has to share.  Nothing excites Lani and I more than a colorful plate of food.  It feeds us in all ways healthy.  Frances Lappe’ wrote, “The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth”.  So this week as you connect and celebrate do so with color.