Cactus Wranglers

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....   Continue Reading

Garden of Verona, Italy

“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....   Continue Reading

Walking in Milan, Italy–Vertical Forests

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....   Continue Reading

Puzzled About Pumpkins

I’m puzzled about pumpkins. The USA seems to have a limited view of the pumpkin. Pumpkins appear only in October. It is spiced into coffee, but there is no color of it there. It is grown in competition to find the largest one possible. It is smashed for amusement. It is carved in all forms, some simple, some like a work of grand art. It is made into a vase for a floral design where it lasts less time than the flowers. Pumpkins are placed inline forming great trails or stacked like a waterfall. ...   Continue Reading

An American Landscape Design in Paris

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....   Continue Reading

Ribbon of Flowers, Lucerne, Switzerland

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....   Continue Reading

It’s a Cow Parade!

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....   Continue Reading

Gardening in the Alps

Murren, Switzerland is a village where flowers and gardening in the summer appear to be a passion equal to snow sports in the winter. Visiting here for a few days I’m staggered by the beautiful displays of flowers seen everywhere I turn.
Murren is a popular destination for travelers, so it would be easy to assume this is done just for the tourists who come. Though the visitors speak a multitude of languages, nearly everyone understands the language of beauty in the window boxes and small gardens terraced on the slopes....   Continue Reading