As I look back at my garden travel memories of 2019 the resounding theme is color! We began the year exploring South America, took a September train trip in France, Switzerland, Italy, and took a trip to Central America and Mexico, in December. Everywhere I went I found colorful food, critters, art, and, of course, colorful flowers. These images are from Central and South America, the colors in Europe are equally wonderful but that will have to be another story.
For over 40 years, a grand saguaro cactus lived two doors down from my home. When it first went in, it stood about 9′ high, a singular specimen soaking in the sun. Over the years I watched it grow taller, adding multiple arms, providing a home to cactus wrens, flickers, and doves. In the spring, it bloomed great white flowers and transformed spent blooms into deep purple tunas enjoyed by the birds.
“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,”
Giardino Giusti is an oasis of glorious green.
When a garden survives for five centuries, I know the beauty in front of me must include an equally fascinating story behind its creation. “Agostino Giusti was a Knight of the Venetian Republic and Squire of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the man responsible for the design of this lovely garden. Laid out in 1570 with all the quintessential Italian charm of that period.” (Kate Wickers, 5.7. ’12, Italy Magazine) He was a master at wool dyeing, making fashionable colors and selling it for uses of the day. He led the effort to build a wool merchants cooperative helping all maximize their fortune. His success allowed him to build a grand Palazzo, and behind his house, he created his garden.
Exploring this major Italian city delivers an absolute feast to indulge your taste for travel delights. You can window shop the high fashion scene under the glass dome of the Galleria Vittoria Emanule II, dine in elegant restaurants, and see the best of Leonardo’s work.
“The world is so filled with a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
Ask just about anyone in Paris how to get to the Arch, and they will quickly direct you to Arc de Triomphe, even if you specifically ask for the Arc of Defense. Visitors to the city of light focus on the iconic memorial commissioned by Napoleon in 1805 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz* but my destination was the Arc of Defense.
In the early 14th century, a covered wooden bridge was built at an angle over the Reuss River to provide convenient passage between the town ramparts (defensive walls.) The utility of the bridge was essential, but decorative elements crept into the design over the years. There are a series of paintings in the rafters depicting the history of the town. Today they are dark, and in a brief visit, it is difficult to appreciate the historical significance. In 1993 the bridge caught fire, and the bridge was severely damaged. It was carefully rebuilt, and today it draws visitors from all over the world.
For me, it was the mass planting of the dragon wing begonias, red geraniums, Swedish ivy, and vinca major that caught my attention. This ribbon of color is the power of flowers. Flowers invite everyone from all over the world to walk through a tunnel of flowers.
When I was growing up there was American Cheese & then for something fancy there was Swiss Cheese. So many decades later in Switzerland, there is no “Swiss” cheese, but there is Tilsiter, Appenzeller, Emmentaler, Le Gruyere, and many more. The uniqueness of these flavors is attributed to the mountain meadows the Brown Swiss, Simmental, Braunvieh breeds of cattle graze on to create these flavors. Today in Murren, there was a cow parade. Some of the 270,000 which have been up in the alps for the summer came down through town. This event is a celebration of the grazing traditions and cheese making Switzerland cherishes. The dairy cattle are accompanied by herdsmen who will spend the summer: milking each cow twice a day, collecting the milk, and making it into cheese in the mountains. Doing all of this high in the Alps is quite a remarkable, physical, and logistical endeavor.
Fontainebleau, home of French Royalty for over 700 years, including a series of Louie, Louie, Louie’s, Emperor Napoleon, Josephine, and more survives as an architectural and artistic history of France. There are 1500 rooms, w/ marble halls, gilded ceilings and paintings larger than a two-car garage door. I’d always heard of this place, I’ve seen the view of the grounds from the sky while watching the Tour de France. It is magnificent. The famous double staircase is a historical architectural feature built during the reign of Louis XIII (1610-43) by Androuet du Cerceau. The staircase leads to the entry of the Chapel. Since the French Kings saw themselves as God, I suppose guests who were invited to arrive at this grand stair would be expected to worship the King. The enormity overwhelms you. It helps to focus on the tiny decorative features such as these tiny carved hearts and the colors of the cape in yet another portrait of someone obviously famous but unknown to me.
Add a Cemetery to Your Travel Plans? Here’s the one you shouldn’t miss!
A cemetery may not be one of the first things you think of when it comes to visiting new cities, but I encourage you to reconsider. If you visit Buenos Aires, Argentina, don’t miss Recoleta Cemetery. It is one of the most famous and elaborate cemeteries in the world. Here is a walled city filled with grand architecture, riveting stories, and intricate symbols. Since 1888 an Argentinian living in a grand house in Buenos Aires knew the only place to reside in death would be in the Cementerio de la Recoleta. Recoleta is 13.5 acres crammed with mausoleums, and the residents are in their final resting place. Overlooking the view from the rooftop of our hotel, the cemetery structures fascinate both at sunrise and sundown.