Mendocino Botanical, Ft. Bragg, CA

Garden above the Ocean

Walking in a garden in a different climate with sandy soil expands my view of what a garden can be.  Perhaps there is no greater contrast from my garden in the desert to gardens on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. High on a rocky cliff near Ft. Bragg, California the Mendocino Botanical Garden mixes the coastal climate elements of salt air, sandy soil, foggy sky and sun to create magical results.   The dew soaks my shoes and moisture climbs up the hems of my jeans as I wander down a path in the early morning.  Tiny droplets of water ring the leaves and sparkle as patches of sun break through the sky cover of gray. This doesn’t happen in my desert garden....   Continue Reading

The Biltmore, NC & The Biltmore, AZ

Fantasy Gardens

The July heat storms in and drives me inside.  Putting away my gardening gloves it is time to engage in some fantasy gardening.   I imagine a garden where the plants stay in optimum health; the blooms unfold in predictable order of color and quality assured by a perfect feeding schedule and ideal watering.  Such a garden is always orderly, where any storm damage is minimized and cleared promptly by industrious garden gnomes.  Yes, a fantasy I realize and yet since children may escape the day-to-day world by visiting a magic kingdom why can’t a gardener escape to a magic garden?...   Continue Reading

Snow in Summer

Imagining Snow

  As the temperature rises and it is too hot for gardening I try all manner of things to help me make it through the months of July and August.  I tell myself this is our dormancy period, our non gardening time like the deep winter months in other parts of the country. I try to put my garden records in order noting successful efforts and what to plan for next season.  When I am really desperate I pretend my white flowers are snow!  Once on a visit to San Diego Botanic gardens as I moved from one shady spot to the next I found in full bloom a plant labeled “snow in summer.”  The name just grabbed my attention.  Snow!  Imagining snow in the garden cooled me down.  

Many people think a garden of white flowers is designed to reflect the moonlight yet bright moonlight cooperates for only a brief time each month and what if the moon flowers are not yet in bloom?  Compare that to every day imagining white flowers as snow!  It could cool our thoughts and inspire memories of cooler times!...   Continue Reading

National Public Garden Day


Celebrations have to be made, troubles come by themselves. 

– Russian Proverb

National Public Garden Day is May 7.  This is only the 2nd year the America Public Garden Association, (APGA)formerly the American Association of Botanical Gardens & Arboretahas sponsored this event.  This group founded in 1940 has 500 institutional members from all 50 states, Washington DC,  Canada, & 24 other countries.  Our local Desert Botanical Garden is a member and will celebrate the event with educational  presentations, kids activities and special tours.  The mission of the APGA is to support the professionals who work to keep our public gardens flourishing and provide access to horticultural displays, education, research and plant conservation....   Continue Reading

Lattice Windows

Outside my lattice window,

Is the spring light warm yet

For a plum blossom flower? Wang Wei (701-761)

In the early morning looking through  my window I glimpse a bit of my garden; the flowers, some grass, a tree.    Each day I look through the same window and think this is  the garden! Yet like a living painting, the light shifts, seasons change and so does the view. The garden grows, declines and remerges  in new growth.  The window frames my view.   Outside looking in is the same garden but a different view. I  stand in the grass, under my tree looking toward the window.  The window is significantly smaller, the flowers fill the view, the grass and tree are no longer in the picture.  My position  changes my viewpoint....   Continue Reading

Sounds of Peace

When birds stop singing. . .


“Across some stretches every tree had been felled by gunfire or cut down intentionally.  No bird song was heard, no birds remained.”*

It is comforting to sit in a garden and hear the songs of birds. The tall trees provide an orchestra hall for the birds to welcome the morning.  I am the audience enjoying the notes sung by the chorus of mockingbirds, cactus wrens, grackles and doves....   Continue Reading

The Best Season


Friends  planning a visit to a new garden struggled to pick the best time to go, wanting the garden to be at its’ peak perfection. Predicting the weather, wondering if it would rain, if the climate would be just right for the flowers to bloom they struggled to match their schedules to the hoped for perfect visit.  Poet William Brown wrote “There is no season such delight can bring as summer, autumn,  winter, spring.”  When is the best season to visit a public garden? When will the garden reach its’ perfection?  Whenever you get yourself to a garden, I believe you can find something good....   Continue Reading

Never skip the Children’s Garden!

The Children Inside Us

Recently I encouraged friends to visit the San Diego Botanical Gardens during their visit in the area.  Upon their return I eagerly quizzed them on what they saw. They had obviously enjoyed their visit, even the more reluctant visitor of the two.   I then asked, “Did you visit the Children’s Garden?”  “No,” was their reply, “we didn’t take the time,” I understood.  I have visited many public gardens and assumed I was too “big” to enjoy the children’s garden. I would hurry by on my way to enjoy the other garden displays for adults.   When I have wandered into the Children’s garden near the end of a long day of garden strolling I discovered one very definite tip for visiting gardens, “Don’t skip the children’s garden!”

The San Diego BG, near Encinitas, CA opened a new children’s garden in the summer of 2009. Visiting this beautiful botanical garden and missing a visit to the children’s garden is a loss to anyone of any age.  As busy adults we easily miss the whimsy and wonder of nature. A children’s garden touches the child that still resides in all of us. Happiness sprouts as we wander through such special places filled with topiary animals, rooftop gardens and pint size potting benches....   Continue Reading