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.
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.
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.
While “Three Days in Rio” sounds like a great movie title, I’m going to share my three days with you on my blog even though the days were filled with action, blazing colors, artistry, and of course, incredible gardens.
The Cayman Islands has close to 600 bank and trust companies but only one Botanic Garden. The Caribbean Islands are described as paradise, but money isn’t shade, flowers, and food. Without plants, there is no paradise. This is my first time in the Caribbean, the temperatures are pleasant in the low 80’s, the breezes are blowing gently, palm trees and colorful bougainvillea in red, pink, white, purple, and orange grow wildly along the roadways. I need practice in relaxing on a beach, I’m not naturally good at it, I don’t sit still easily let alone lie in the sun for hours. Naturally, I set out for the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Garden, amazingly, a reciprocal admission with my membership in the American Horticultural Society.
2018 was a wonderful year of visiting gardens. We took three trips; a short spring trip to Atlanta, GA, a six-week road trip through the US, and a 30-day fall trip to England. Looking over my journals and photos of the past year it is full of memorable moments of the beauty in our world. I want to share a few marvels that delighted me along the way.
In my pursuit of visiting gardens, I have many people look at me with curiosity, disdain, and pity; assuming that I limit myself, seeing the same things over and over again. One man commented I “wasn’t into art” and would, therefore, miss the great works that make us human. I smile and nod politely knowing full well a garden holds so much art, architecture, and stories, I feel sorry for those who are not into visiting gardens.
England’s influence in gardening is both historic and far-reaching, so it is fitting that London has the Garden Museum. The Museum is built upon the site of the tombs of John Tradescant the Elder, gardener for Charles I, in 1630, and John Tradescant the younger, both considered the first great gardeners and plant hunters in British History. The old Victorian church, St Mary at Lambeth, was slated for demolition in the 1970’s when one woman, Rosemary Nicholson, rallied support to save this historic space. As restoration projects go it took time to redesign and finance the transformation of the oldest structure in Lambert Borough, located along the River Thames across from Parliament.