I have been at home in my garden for over 14 months. I have been untouched by the direct loss of loved ones. I’ve not been ill. I’m vaccinated, comfortable and companionable with the love of my life sharing this experience. There are many things I haven’t liked about this forced seclusion, but my good fortune has been apparent to me.
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.
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.
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.
This month begins the ninth year of A Traveling Gardener, wandering, wondering, noticing. . . and I want to thank all of my readers who have been encouraging, interested, and appreciative of my garden stories. I hope you have been inspired to visit more gardens when you travel. I went into my archives and found the first story of exploring the world through gardens. My enthusiasm has only increased as I travel to these wonderful places. I am sharing that original article with you and including update resources for finding gardens all over the world.
This year is a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the signing of the law founding our National Parks Service. In February a 3D IMAX film, National Parks Adventure, narrated by Robert Redford was released. The film flies viewers over canyons, red rock arches, and walks them into ice caves near Lake Superior. Highlighting 30 of the 58 national parks, there are moments where you feel the urge to reach out and touch the ice crystals and rock walls. Seeing the film will inspire you to “Find Your Park” which is the theme for the yearlong celebration.
Desert Botanical Garden
LAS NOCHES DE LAS LUMINARIAS
As we approach the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, we turn on our lights with little thought. It gets dark and we need light to complete our daily tasks. Yet in December, light becomes a part of our celebrations. Hanukkah is a festival of lights, Christmas trees are lit as a gathering place for the festivities of the season, the Luminaries of the Southwest light the pathway for the worshippers to find their way to the Christmas Miracle.
In this week of Thanksgiving I realize again how grateful I am for gardens. In this world of war, wild weather, and wandering refugees it is hard to see solutions to such complex problems. Yet at this very moment I am lucky enough to be able to step outside my home and walk in my garden. I have a place to sit with the people I love, where I can see the sky and be warmed by the sun. Delighted by wild canaries flying through the view, a light breeze rustles the leaves on the olive trees, and a wind chime plays a trio of notes. I have clean water for my plants and for my family.
This article appears in the September 2015 issue of Phoenix Home & Garden. It features our home garden. The copyright access to the photos expired, so I’ve added a gallery of similar images at the end. Hope you enjoy the tour.