I go out early in my garden and wander through slowly, looking closely at the blooms and the leaves of the plants and trees. I like to watch the light breaking on the horizon. Some days I find things. It might be a tiny feather, a broken bird egg, or a dragonfly that will hover no more. I pick them up, and over time, create my cabinet of curiosities. I like this chance to look more closely at my garden residents.
Recently I went to Spokane, WA to speak to the Inland Empire Gardeners*, a phenomenal garden club with hundreds of members and unaffiliated with any national club organization. This club operates under a board of directors, and a three-sister management team that keeps its members educated about growing trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables in Spokane Valley.
In Chicago’s Millennium Park there is a shiny, reflecting sphere officially titled Cloud Gate or more popularly known as “The Bean.” This round, bright, reflective sculpture attracts visitors to a selfie experience unlike anywhere else to be found. In Paris there is an equally bright, shiny, and round reflective sculpture in Parc de La Villette, at 118’ feet in diameter, it’s simply the largest gazing ball I have ever seen. This sculptural centerpiece is surrounded by trees and tucked inside is an IMAX theatre. But both of these are dwarfed in comparison to the Floralis Genérica, a stainless steel and aluminum flower in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Gardens are filled with moments of happiness and heartbreak. For years our garden had a wall of lush green creeping fig (fig ivy). Just two tiny plants had grown over 20 years to create a thick, dense layer of green covering the entire west wall of the back yard. It was nearly 3’thick and rose easily 4’ above the 8’ wall. It crawled over into my neighbor’s yard where it was generally the only thing green to be found there. It blocked the neighbor’s house entirely. I loved it.
The Gardener—A Documentary film currently available for rent on Amazon, released in 2018, 84 min.
Created over 75 years and three generations, Les Quatre Vents stands as an enchanted place of beauty and surprise, a horticultural masterpiece of the 21st century. See how Frank Cabot gave birth to one of the greatest gardens in the world.
I started working early in my garden today. The sky was streaked with pink, orange and blue as the sun rose between the branches of my 40 yr. Old olive tree. Mocking birds were singing, there are so many different songs from this one incredible bird. As I wander through the pathways of the garden I find the deep purple Dutch iris and pink freesias blooming, they are such a brief bit of spring color but so worth it. There is a stand of white freesias further out by the lawn, heavy with blossoms, they need a wire frame to support them.
I have lived my life with plastic. I’ve used Tupperware, saran wrap, water bottles, toys, and tools. I have a yellow plastic flower pot that is 45 years old. I remember the film, The Graduate, when Mr. Mcguire offering Benjamin one word for his future, said “Plastics. There’s a great future in it.” But today I’m living with plastic guilt.
I wander the world looking for glorious gardens. I’m always noticing the trees and the flowers where ever I go. Today I was going to Home Depot, and I found a glorious southwest spring display. The Hacienda Children’s Hospital at 610 W Jerome Ave, in Mesa, AZ opened in October of 2015. My usual side street approach to Home Depot allowed me to watch the construction of the building from its earliest beginnings. It is a beautiful structure w/ an integrated steel tree rising up the side of the building and framing the entryway canopy. It has been attention grabbing from the start. The facility was designed by the Devenney Group, who specializes in medical architecture. I’ve contacted them to find out who the landscape architect is for this project because right now, this moment the landscape has blossomed into its full glory. The plants are just a bit over three years in the ground and the time combined with the wet winter has created a moment of true desert glory.
A tour of the Rio Botanic Garden w/ Lais Tammela,
Lais is a biologist and a certified tour guide with Tours by Locals. She grew up near the garden and often visited throughout her childhood. During her years as an educator, she brought her students here, conducting research of lichen growth on the royal palm walk, comparing the lichen as the trees progressed from the street to further back into the forest. Immediately we were excited to have her guide us around the garden.
A visit to Sitio, Roberto Burle Marx’s private garden for his collection of over 3000 plants
It doesn’t make today’s headlines but right now in 2019 plant hunters are exploring the world trying to find new, useful, and unique plants. It is essential work that has continued for centuries. During the last century, Burle Marx was a plant hunter. Since childhood when his aunt gave him a plant as a gift, he had been fascinated by plants. He was a conservationist and a man in love with plants. When he went to Berlin in 1927 to study painting, he kept going to visit the botanic garden there. What surprised him most was the exotic collection of plants featured in the Berlin Botanic were the tropical plants of Brazil. Yet in Brazil, the gardens were imitating the European style, importing plants from Europe to create gardens in Brazil. He had what I would call an epiphany that Brazilian gardens would be beautiful when made with their own tropical plants. Upon his return to Brazil, this became his mission.