Fantasy Gardens


July 2009 was the all time hottest month on record in Phoenix!   Nearly everything in my garden was wilting. Any gardener venturing out was wilting as well.   So I needed a little fantasy gardening. I allow myself to fantasize about a perfect garden, where the plants stay in optimum health, where blooms unfold in predictable order of color, and quality is assured by a perfect feeding schedule and ideal watering.  A garden always orderly, where any storm damage is minimized and cleared promptly  (generally assisted by a legion of gardeners).  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?

George Washington Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is the ultimate fantasy garden complete with an enormous castle! Fredrick Law Olmsted, considered the father of American Landscape, designed the gardens and worked throughout the original 400,000 acres in 1895. The magnificent home today open to the public now occupies 8000 acres and the remaining grounds are a gardener’s delight....   Continue Reading

Night in a garden


As a kid I was afraid of the dark.  Many a summer night when I forgot to put away my bicycle or toy wagon I was told to “Go outside and put away my things!”  A dark night and only a small porch light to show me way, I stood trembling at the back door, holding my breath.  I would dash out, do the task and dash back in my heart racing.  Now night time outside in the garden is a favorite time for me....   Continue Reading

College Gardens


The spring semester has ended and the last notes of pomp and circumstance have faded away on college and university campuses.  Students have packed up and wandered off campus for their summer adventures and the education that may bring.  Right now until late August acres of college and university gardens cared for by fulltime groundskeepers are blooming and growing just hoping to be noticed!...   Continue Reading

Art in the Garden

I love a bit of art in my garden and public gardens like art too!  Now what do I mean by ‘art?’  Of course that would be a question for the sages to decide.  Though I’ll give it a try and say that I see it as an element made by human hands that mixes in with the natural elements of our gardens.  Certainly at the Desert Botanical Garden Dale Chihuly’s glass art has been mixed in with the natural world to great surprise and delight for thousands of visitors.  The excitement of such art draws local visitors in when they might overlook returning to a familiar garden.  Across the country public gardens work with this idea and as you travel this summer prepare to be surprised and delighted by art in the garden...   Continue Reading

Hidden Gardens

A fall trip to Montana found me searching for high country gardens to visit.  Montana is a state of 145,552 square miles and my garden guides identify 4 gardens for the entire state and none were within 500 miles of my destination!  Disappointed I decided this trip would not include wandering through gardens.  Garden Guides are useful but certainly not all encompassing because many hidden gardens await if you keep looking as you travel....   Continue Reading

Armchair Traveling

The garden I visit most often is my own, I enjoy it each day just walking out my door.  Yet the inspiration and excitement of visiting public gardens adds so much to my life that I want to do that each day as well.  Travel planning maybe all about suffering the web  these days but before one does the details you may need inspiration for where you want to travel....   Continue Reading

Noticing Trees

I’m sitting in a tree house at a friend’s cabin along the Gallatin River near Yellowstone Park in Montana. There is sun filtering through the branches of  pines landing on spots of grass and wild roses , now late in the season, the branches are red spotted with rose hips.  I’m in a tree house.  I didn’t have a tree house when I was a kid though I think I remember my brothers pounding a couple of boards up in the crotch of a maple tree in our back yard. Yet my childhood was filled with trees.  In the Hoosier Midwest farmland there were maples, oak, hickory, walnut, tulip, cherry, apple and pear and more.  Trees viewed by a child seem tall and permanent. These trees filled my childhood with all kinds of activity.  Trees provided branches for swords, and scepters of power, whirligigs for musical kazoos, nuts for cracking, fruits for treats.  I climbed in trees, sat under trees and sometime read under trees, leaning against the textured trunk for a backrest.

I collected 20 different leaves, pressing them flat and labeling them to identify their uniqueness for an 8th grade science project.  In the branches overhead birds raise their babies, our cats climbed up to terrorize them, and life and death drama appeared right in the middle of a summer day....   Continue Reading

A Seat in the Garden


Gardeners love mornings, especially Arizona gardeners.  Early morning is an inviting time to be among the blooms, buds and shrubs, enjoying the changes each day brings to our own little gardens.  Morning is the time for me to take a cup of coffee to my favorite seat in the garden.  I have a little bench that I return to again and again.  Seated here, I can watch the sunrise and the sky change colors between the branches of the 30 year-old olive tree in the east corner of my back yard....   Continue Reading