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.
Hortense Miller Garden, Laguna Beach, CA
On a steep hillside of Boat Canyon overlooking artistic town of Laguna Beach and the Pacific Ocean is the two and a half-acre garden of Hortense Miller. I’ve never met a person named Hortense, but if you are given such a name, the derivative of which is Hortus as in garden, it seems likely you would love a garden. Hortense experienced a magical moment when she was five years old and her kindergarten teacher took the class on a walk “to look over a picket fence into the neglected front yard of an empty house. Thousands of dandelions had opened in the sunshine, standing knee-high in long grass”* and the glory of that moment influenced her for the rest of her life. By age 12 she declared she would: Never eat animals, never marry, and never have children.
Gardens are my happy place, a refuge from the news, traffic, noise, and security checks. I embrace the blooms, the design, the human touch on a patch of the planet. It is a piece of heaven right under my feet.
A creative gardener transforms a strip of land into a magical garden
Gardeners today have less space, less water and seem less able to lavish time on their patch of ground. Yet ask nearly any gardener and they have no less desire for a beautiful garden outside their door. Inspired, creative thinking coupled with a fascination of the world of succulents enabled Lisa, a member of the Laguna Beach Garden Club in CA to transform a 15’ wide side yard strip of ground into a magical mix of low water use plants and artful touches, creating two thematic gardens.
“Signs, Signs, everywhere there’s signs,
messin’ up the scenery, breaking’ my mind.”
(The Five Man Electrical Band)
Public gardens welcome curious visitors from all over the world. They enter eager to learn about the land, plants, trees and rocks of a particular place. Many gardens proudly highlight the entrance with an eye catching sign, often nestled among a beautifully landscaped bed of flowers. Once inside, posted signs act as the voice speaking directly to visitors. When it comes to signs everywhere, some are creative offenders and a few are just plain offenders.
Ruth Bancroft’s succulent and cactus garden in Walnut Creek, CA has been growing since 1972. This was before prolonged drought conditions introduced gardeners to such interesting plants as Aeoniums, Agaves, Aloes, Euphorbias, Sedums and Yuccas.
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.
If you are visiting downtown Seattle board the monorail and ride directly to the Space Needle, the most iconic image of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The 74 acre Seattle Park is a prime destination with many attractions to choose from. The Pacific Science Center is designed to inspire budding scientists of all ages, the 3D IMAX theatre is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Parks, the Music Center plays the history of rock and roll and the International musical fountain invites you in for a splash.
“To many people, a cactus is the tall, spiny plant that they have seen in films of the Wild West.” (Miles Anderson, Cactus & Succulent Guide)
It is citrus season. Outside my door the oranges are ripening on an overloaded tree providing a surplus of the sweet fruit. If you don’t have a tree right outside your door, you can still find an abundance of the succulent fruit right down the street at your supermarket.