Armchair Traveling

The garden I visit most often is my own, I enjoy it each day just walking out my door.  Yet the inspiration and excitement of visiting public gardens adds so much to my life that I want to do that each day as well.  Travel planning maybe all about suffering the web  these days but before one does the details you may need inspiration for where you want to travel.

Lately there are a number of books of lists with the curious title of “1001 places to see or things to do before you die.”  So here is the ultimate list for gardeners, 1001 Gardens you must see before you dieand I am recommending it enthusiastically.  Now this is not a guidebook to pack in your suitcase, it weights nearly 5 lbs!  This is a book to put by a favorite armchair.  This is a book that will let you travel 5 minutes every day.  Open it to any page and you are away! The photos spotlight the garden and the accompanying text sets you dreaming of visiting this next great place.

This book covers gardens of the world so it was no simple task to organize the contents!  The index begins with North America and moves West to East and then North to South ending in the Island gardens.  The sections are labeled North America, Europe, Asia, Central & South America, Africa and Islands.  Each garden has a fact box providing style, size climate and location.  Designers and owners are included where known.

I find myself wandering through the photographs as I turn some of the 960 pages.  In a more thoughtful stretch I am surprised by the history of time described through gardens.  Xi-Hu Garden in China a 9th century classical garden is credited as inspiration for Chinese landscapes for more than ten centuries.  Ilford Manor in Wiltshire, England is described as an early 20th century Anglo-Italianate style.

You can discover the most interesting destinations.  While you expect to see descriptions of well known beautiful gardens such as Versaille  in France, Lake Como in Italy and Hampton Court in England.  This guide introduced me to Bide-a-Wee Cottage Garden in England and the Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland.  Then in Bankok, Thailand there is the Jim Thompson Garden on the estate of this U.S. architect who after assignment there by the army engineers during world war two he fell in love with the country and lived out his life there.  I myself am dreaming of a trip to Giverny, Monet’s garden in France which appears to be the only garden that rates two photos in the book.

I’m was pleased to see Arizona’s own Desert Botanical Garden, Tailiesin West, Tucson Botanical Gardens and Tohono Chul Park included in this grand list of gardens of the world.  Az easily has more gardens featured than some countries!

This book edited by Rae-Spence-Jones, horticultural journalist and author in the United Kingdom would be a holiday gift that would keep a traveling gardener dreaming for years to come.  So when you are asked for your holiday wish list ask for 1001 Gardens you must see before you die, $34.99.  Even if your travel plans are modest there are inspirational nuggets of design and history any gardener would enjoy.  Here is another idea I got from the book, what if we all named our own gardens?  Cosmic Speculation may be taken but what else might work for our own little patch of joy?  “Patch of joy?”  I like it!

originally published


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