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“Native Gardens” Blooms Community Connections in Gardening

Gardening has never been easy for Del Velle’s. Most of the Butley family’s beautiful gardens are harming the environment, especially the roses where native animals in the yard cannot flourish. Charming, hilarious, and meaningful, the theatre show expands the depths of different perspectives of beauty while helping the environment.

The story takes place in Washington, D.C., where two couples are having issues with how much property they have after bringing a landscape inspector. It is a relatable tale of bickering neighbors with bad fences that creates borders between friendships. Frank Butley is a man of exquisite taste, catering to European-style flowers. Tania Del Velle is pregnant and she is committed to bringing indigenous plants to restore the natural ecosystem of her neighborhood. To the Butleys, indigenous flowers are rather ugly and unappealing. The show touches on the political spectrum of these characters where Latinx Democrats are first moving to Washington, D.C., next to Caucasian Republican neighbors who are kind and welcoming but are entitled to their flowers.

Director Melissa Crespo pointed out that “Walls are very much in our lives right now—they’re constantly being talked about.” While on the surface the Butley’s look entitled, gardening is undoubtedly Frank’s favorite pastime in hopes of relieving his chronic stress.

The conflict is between Tania and Pablo, the couple who moved in, working with a law firm that said that they have two more feet of land from the Butleys. With Frank’s garden competition just days before the competition, he refuses to give up the hard work and effort he tended for several months in his beautiful garden. Zacarías was looking for an idea to write a play and when exploring Native Gardens, she said, “But the consequences were really real and emotionally upsetting. And I kept thinking, Wow, it’s almost like every single battle between nations or tribes, etc., boils down to this fight about property and culture, in a sense.”

Her play Native Gardens was actually written before Donald Trump spoke about building a wall between the United States and Mexico. She adds, “There’s been something in the atmosphere for much longer than made this comedy about gardening and planting and building a fence have a much deeper resonance.”

The botanical wall in the neighborhood is a strong resemblance to people fearing change and the unknown, but the fight doesn’t last forever. The play shows that there is no need for a fight as a compromise to combine gardens can make the prettiest of all, especially when life flourishes.


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