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.
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.
In Chicago’s Millennium Park there is a shiny, reflecting sphere officially titled Cloud Gate or more popularly known as “The Bean.” This round, bright, reflective sculpture attracts visitors to a selfie experience unlike anywhere else to be found. In Paris there is an equally bright, shiny, and round reflective sculpture in Parc de La Villette, at 118’ feet in diameter, it’s simply the largest gazing ball I have ever seen. This sculptural centerpiece is surrounded by trees and tucked inside is an IMAX theatre. But both of these are dwarfed in comparison to the Floralis Genérica, a stainless steel and aluminum flower in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Cayman Islands has close to 600 bank and trust companies but only one Botanic Garden. The Caribbean Islands are described as paradise, but money isn’t shade, flowers, and food. Without plants, there is no paradise. This is my first time in the Caribbean, the temperatures are pleasant in the low 80’s, the breezes are blowing gently, palm trees and colorful bougainvillea in red, pink, white, purple, and orange grow wildly along the roadways. I need practice in relaxing on a beach, I’m not naturally good at it, I don’t sit still easily let alone lie in the sun for hours. Naturally, I set out for the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Garden, amazingly, a reciprocal admission with my membership in the American Horticultural Society.
2018 was a wonderful year of visiting gardens. We took three trips; a short spring trip to Atlanta, GA, a six-week road trip through the US, and a 30-day fall trip to England. Looking over my journals and photos of the past year it is full of memorable moments of the beauty in our world. I want to share a few marvels that delighted me along the way.
England’s influence in gardening is both historic and far-reaching, so it is fitting that London has the Garden Museum. The Museum is built upon the site of the tombs of John Tradescant the Elder, gardener for Charles I, in 1630, and John Tradescant the younger, both considered the first great gardeners and plant hunters in British History. The old Victorian church, St Mary at Lambeth, was slated for demolition in the 1970’s when one woman, Rosemary Nicholson, rallied support to save this historic space. As restoration projects go it took time to redesign and finance the transformation of the oldest structure in Lambert Borough, located along the River Thames across from Parliament.
Do you remember what you were doing July 29, 1981? Perhaps you were one of 750 million people gathered around a television to witness the wedding of Diana to Prince Charles. I was watching. Fast forward to 1996 when their divorce shredded my belief in a Cinderella story. I admit to holding a grudge against Prince Charles ever since. Still, when presented with the opportunity to tour his Highgrove Garden I leaped at the chance.
When I travel to visit gardens my husband and I have fully embraced Airbnb accommodations. We’ve traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Canada and many of the US States staying with hosting individuals in a room with a view. We look for properties with photos of gardens as part of their home since that assures us we have something in common before we arrive. I have nothing but good things to say about this type of travel experience, we meet interesting people, enjoy fantasy real estate both in location and floor plans. We find great surprises.
I arrived on Mackinac Island for the 70th annual Lilac festival in June 2018. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes to reach the island and it was a blue sky, puffy white cloud day with calm waters day.
“a landscape of a painting of a landscape”
Wander into the painting
Topiary Park in Columbus Ohio is an amazing landscape. It is in the words of its creator, James T Mason, “a landscape of a painting of a landscape. … If an artist can paint a picture of a landscape — art mimicking nature — then why not a sculptor creating a landscape of a work of art — nature mimicking art? The topiary garden is both a work of art and a work of nature.”