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.
Kiftsgate Courts Garden, Chipping Campden, England
Sometimes the most striking gardens are not those perfectly plotted on flat ground. Hills, valleys, and rocks may seem like less than favorable conditions, but gardeners are not easily deterred and will find a way.
Gardens are, as they always were, a retreat. Centuries ago, humans retreated from the wildness of nature, seeking protection from “lions, tigers and bears.” Today the garden is a retreat from the wildness of 21st-century life. Encouraged to shelter inside because of the pandemic it seems the world is looking out a window wondering what the way forward will be.
For over 40 years, we’ve enjoyed the scenery just outside our backyard; a city golf course. Now, we’re not golfers, but this picturesque course gives us plenty of enjoyment as we watch the comings and goings of the wildlife there.
Spring is a date on the calendar. The feeling of spring is what happens in the garden. Whenever it arrives at your door, it is a season of hope, renewal, buds swelling into blossoms, and new leaves unfurling color on the landscape. Spring summons joy in the soul. Even in this moment of COVID-19 when everything seems upside down, the garden grows, ignoring the noise and responding only to the changing light and awakening life.
Can you be dazzled by vegetables? In France, indeed you can.
Villandry is one of the most famous gardens in all of France. While Monet’s Giverny may be more familiar and Versailles more historic, Villandry is more fantastic for what it does with plants. Located some three hours southwest of Paris in the Loire Valley, Villandry is best known for the carpet style bedding plants in its famous kitchen garden. Villandry dazzles you with vegetables.
“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.
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.
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.
Weather is an element of gardening. The sun, temperature, and moisture are alongside us as we work to create our own piece of paradise. Late snow in Spring, a dry spell in Summer, an early frost in Fall are events that can throw us off course. A weather event, yet one we can work through.