I’ve traveled cross-country from Arizona to Indiana and back multiple times over the years and each time the goal is to find a different way to explore. If your travels find you driving through the heart of this country, Powell Gardens or Wichita in Kansas are excellent stops. In Illinois, Allerton Park or the Champaign Prairie Walk are great for stretching your legs. If you take a southern route don’t miss both the Dallas and & Ft. Worth Gardens in Texas, or in Missouri the Botanical Garden in St. Louis. However, I would propose there is no prettier mid-point stop in a drive across the continental US than Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha Nebraska. Located along the Missouri River where the soil is rich and fertile, gardeners have worked magic in 20 thematic spaces.
During 2016 Rich, my husband, driver, and photographer, and I, flower fanatic, writer, and gardener, visited 134 new gardens. We traveled in the west to Seattle, San Francisco, Cheyenne, Boulder, and Ft. Collins. We did a tour through Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and a small area of northern Florida. We traveled seven weeks in New Zealand visiting 102 gardens. Viewing the world through the lens of a garden has given us a further education in history, geography, sociology, botany, art, and cultures, especially horticulture and agriculture.
Wellington Botanic Garden, NZ
In the capital of New Zealand, Wellington Botanic Garden is a remarkable public space. The beautiful grounds include a significant collection of plants and trees. A small Peace Flame Garden is found just inside the entrance. I found this space emotionally touching. A bronze plaque tells the story, “This Peace Flame is the preserved fire from the atomic holocaust of Hiroshima, 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki, 9 August 1945. The Flame calls attention to the indiscriminate and uncontainable nature of nuclear weapons which kill beyond borders and generations. It implores us to honor the Principles espoused in the United Nations Charter of settling all disputes by peaceful means.”
If you are ready to travel to gardens here are my go to resources to help you find these amazing places:
The American Horticultural Society http://www.ahs.org/gardening-programs/rap
In a country where everything grows, a garden showcases native NZ plants.
I’ve just returned from visiting gardens in New Zealand. There are so many shades of green, so many plants it seems everything grows in this country of passionate gardeners. It is a country with a long history of influence by English gardeners, a land of rich soil and favorable climate. There are many wonderful gardens to visit in NZ. The Kiwis (NZ residents) have long embraced importing plants from all over the world though more recent environmental practices have both restricted imports and placed a greater emphasis on native plants in gardens country wide. Broadfields Garden is a garden of NZ plants and a garden of international significance. Some twenty years ago one man, David Hobbs, decided he wanted to make a garden. He acquired flat land used as paddocks (pasture) drew up plans and set to work. Today his ideas and plants have grown into an 8.5 acre garden of NZ plants. His goal is the use of native plants supplemented with only nonnatives hybridized and grown in NZ.
The Parnell Rose Garden overlooks Mechanics Bay in Auckland, NZ. Arriving here on a rainy day it seems repetitive to visit another rose garden. Yet here it overlooks the bay, there are sailboats out on the water and a Golden Retriever is sitting on a bench under a tree. The roses are flowering, slightly beaten down by the rain and the first rose I see is purple. A true purple floribunda, not a wine color red, nor the lavender rose I’ve seen before. There wasn’t a label for the color but the deep color petals were purple. I was quite intrigued by the shade. But then I’m fond of purple and as I walked about the garden I found more purples to enjoy.
Masses of people come to New Zealand to travel the trail of Hobbits and dragons. Not I. Arriving at Te Puna Quarry Park I had to will myself out of the car. I’ve seen so much beautiful and so many gardens how could I be amazed again? We set out, it was a big car park and we didn’t know which way to go. I headed to a small circle of trees with a lawn and there be a dragon! An enormous dragon, I walked its length and my footsteps measured 90’ long. He guarded the stairs, the huge head on the ground, the three-toed leg hugged the steps. His eyes deep and blue made in slivers of glass. This sculpture by artist Roger Bullot is made of Hinuera stone & concrete. Hinuera stone is a volcanic creation and unique to New Zealand.