Gardens of Awe and Folly

Gardens of Awe and Folly

GARDENS OF AWE AND FOLLY

A Traveler’s Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening by Vivian Swift

Visiting gardens wherever I travel is my greatest delight, yet friends ask, “Why? Don’t you see the same plants over and over?”   Vivian Swift in her new book Gardens of Awe and Folly, has the best answer to this question. She writes, “If all you ask of a garden is What?, then all you’ll probably get in reply is a planting list.  But ask instead, Why? How? When? and most of all, Who? and then you’re in for a nice, long conversation.”

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Around the World in 80 Gardens

Around the World in 80 Gardens

August is a hot month in my Arizona garden and the heat is so constant it drives me inside.  Recently I’ve been busy researching gardens in New Zealand for our upcoming trip this fall.  By chance I found a Youtube program featuring Australian and New Zealand gardens.  The program was part of a 10 part series produced by the BBC2, Around the World in 80 Gardens with Monty Don, the host of “Gardeners’ World”. After one episode I was hooked and I’ve been traveling the world visiting gardens in Mexico, Cuba, India, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, China, Japan, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, South & North America.

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A Gardener’s Legacy,  The Ruth Bancroft Garden,

A Gardener’s Legacy, The Ruth Bancroft Garden,

Ruth Bancroft’s succulent and cactus garden in Walnut Creek, CA has been growing since 1972.  This was before prolonged drought conditions introduced gardeners to such interesting plants as Aeoniums, Agaves, Aloes, Euphorbias, Sedums and Yuccas.

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Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, Bishopville, South Carolina

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, Bishopville, South Carolina

In 2006 PBS showed the documentary film “A Man Named Pearl.”  The film was about a topiary artist’s garden in South Carolina.  Seeing the film made a lasting impression on me so much so I recently headed to Bishopville to see Pearl Fryar’s topiary garden.  Arriving at his home there are no gates, no posted hours, just a welcome sign with a donation box.  A homemade kiosk holds a small brochure with information about the garden.  Rich and I walked right into Pearl’s garden, and by the end of our visit we had met Pearl, wandered through his garden and left feeling grateful and inspired.

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Audubon Swamp Garden  Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC

Audubon Swamp Garden Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC

As an Arizona gardener I don’t deal with much mud and I don’t own a pair of rubber boots.  So I can’t imagine gardening in the low country of South Carolina, where there is water meandering  through the landscape nearly everywhere. Yet when I learned of the Audubon Swamp Garden, I knew I needed to wander through. I was assured by Christopher at the ticket window that we would be walking through on a raised wooden walkway, safe and protected from alligators.  After winding my way in the Swamp Garden for several hours on small board walks spanning the muddy places and navigating around the protruding tree roots I wasn’t sure Christopher had set foot in the garden.

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Kudzu Baskets

Kudzu Baskets

Visiting Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Ga I arrived just in time to take in the Dogwood Festival. I love street art fairs. I feel so inspired as I wander through seeing the original creations made by artists who see the world in a unique way creating powerful expressions of their view.  The Dogwood Art festival began in 1936 and it is hard to imagine how many incredible new art creations have occurred in all the years of this event.

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Parks & Gardens, History & Beauty

Parks & Gardens, History & Beauty

This year is a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the signing of the law founding our National Parks Service.  In February a 3D IMAX film, National Parks Adventure, narrated by Robert Redford was released. The film flies viewers over canyons, red rock arches, and walks them into ice caves near Lake Superior. Highlighting 30 of the 58 national parks, there are moments where you feel the urge to reach out and touch the ice crystals and rock walls. Seeing the film will inspire you to “Find Your Park” which is the theme for the yearlong celebration.

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Inspiration from Chanticleer

Inspiration from Chanticleer

The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer,  R William Thomas, Timber Press, 2015

In the nearly 100 gardens I visited in 2015, Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA was by far the most inspiring. I came home and implemented design ideas from a Northeast garden into my Southwest landscape.   Bill Thomas is the executive director and head gardener of Chanticleer and in the introduction he says the “book aims to be a conversation between our staff and you. . . Our garden exists to inspire and is filled with ideas to try at home.”  

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Chihuly’s Garden

If you are visiting downtown Seattle board the monorail and ride directly to the Space Needle, the most iconic image of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.   The 74 acre Seattle Park is a prime destination with many attractions to choose from.  The Pacific Science Center is designed to inspire budding scientists of all ages, the 3D IMAX theatre is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Parks, the Music Center plays the history of rock and roll and the International musical fountain invites you in for a splash. 

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Vander Veer Botanical Park & Conservatory, Davenport IA

Vander Veer Botanical Park & Conservatory, Davenport IA

Reporting from Iowa

This just in, Iowa has beautiful gardens and parks, with grand trees, roses, hostas, and lakes.  Despite the frenzy of Iowa’s political caucuses happy people are ice skating on the lagoon in Vander Veer Botanical Park and Conservatory in Davenport.

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