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.
As I face another summer staycation in my garden, I am hopeful yet fearful of the weather. As much of the northern hemisphere sings the refrain of “April showers bring May flowers,” we are all wondering what the weather will bring, floods or drought?
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.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain
Eat, shop, parasail? The travel guides encourage you to do all three in Geneva, Switzerland. Along the city streets in this international hub of agencies, embassies, and banks, the mail carriers navigate their scooters, overloaded with enormous yellow bundles of mail past the World Health Organization headquarters, the International Red Cross, United Nations, and many more.
“As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.”
Versailles: Most recognized for the grand palace, the grounds play more than a supporting role; with 2100 acres of gardens, sculptures, and fountains.
Visiting Versailles is overwhelming; many people focus on exploring the palace and briefly visit the gardens. I did just the opposite, beginning my 15-hour day in the gardens. Even then, I walked only 12 miles of the garden’s 30 miles of pathways. I know I missed seeing so much of it.
I begin my day with a cup of coffee. I’ve been doing so for decades. Over the years, I’ve had it boiled, dripped, pressed, and expressed. I’ve had Cafe au Lait, New Orleans Chicory Coffee, Swedish Egg style, Turkish with cardamom, Cowboy style in an enamel pot, Italian in a tiny cup, and most recently Costa Rican brewed with a Chorreador.
There are so many delicious flavors found around the world and each taste reminds me of how interdependent we are for our pleasures of the table. I have great respect for the farmer, the harvester, the processor, which is not a dirty word but does require the dirty work of cleaning, drying, milling, and packing all done before it arrives in our kitchen.
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.