There will always be work to do in a garden, but why create a bit of heaven on earth if we don’t occasionally sit and feast our eyes on the beauty right in front of us?
For years, I’ve gardened under the shade of a neighbor’s soaring pine trees, it’s branches extending far over my patio, the grill, and my orange tree. Their dark, dense canopy obstructing the light from the flower beds below. Now, the shade, the pollen, the pine cones, the needles, and the acidic air, are all gone. The change is extraordinary. The view eastward is wide open; the early morning sky, and moonrise, are visible.
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.
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.
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.
Time in a garden is my favorite way to enjoy the day. Yet how do I know how many hours have flown by as I continue wandering down the garden path? Happily, I discover a sundial, often surrounded by herbs, centered as a focal point in a sunny patch of the garden. I’ve always checked the time on a sundial. Just looking at one makes me think my garden isn’t complete without a sundial.
The Tucson Botanical Garden (TBG) is a green oasis in central Tucson. Spring is a wonderful time to visit, the aloe alley is in bloom, the barrio garden bright with spring color, the world class cactus collection is flowering and the blue and white garden is flush with the new growth of herbs.
“We are perishing from want of wonder and not from want of wonders, GK Chesterton”
During 2015 I visited nearly 100 gardens in a dozen states and every garden delighted me. Reflecting on my garden adventures I have looked through the photos and notes of my travels and found a few I want to share with you. While the gardens I write about here are all unique and worthy of a visit for so many reasons when you go there will be something new and interesting to see. Here is the most memorable moment discovered just when I wandered through the garden.
Monet wrote of his pond at Giverny,
“It took me a long time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pure pleasure of it and I grew them without thinking of painting them…And then, all of a sudden, I had the revelation of the enchantment of my pond. I took up my palette. Since then I’ve had no other model.”Monet’s Water Lilies, Vivian Russell
The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island in Washington State is a unique public green space, often referred to as both a garden and an arboretum. The word reserve is defined as a tract of land set aside for special use. The 150 acre sanctuary is not a place of formal flower gardens, but it is a garden created by an exceptional couple who lived in a French country-style house overlooking Puget Sound. Surrounded by forested lands, they worked to discover a way to arrange the plants to create a place where “one can come for a walk in the woods.”