In Bavaria, a land of fairytale castles, there’s a fantasy island of flowers. Mainau Island of Flowers is located on Lake Konstanz, a body of water spanning the borders of southern Germany and Switzerland. This temperate climate provides ideal growing conditions for this garden of floral beauty, fanciful creations, and unique features.
Floriade, Almere, The Netherlands
Once a decade, the Netherlands Horticulture Council organizes an exposition celebrating and highlighting horticulture’s contribution to life. The event is a World’s Fair of horticultural products, innovations in food production, and the beauty of plants in all forms. Participants from around the world showcase their garden style and their premium exports from their part of the planet.
Here’s something worth celebrating, and it’s not National Walk to Work Day (April 1) or Lima Bean Respect Day (April 20). Instead, it’s a yearlong celebration of the first American Landscape Architect, Frederick Law Olmstead.
From a Flower to Your Heart
Valentine’s Day is my favorite celebration, and yes, I know it isn’t a holiday, it is a marketing event. While it seems so commercial today, I am surprised to discover it has always been about marketing! In the late 1800s, Richard Cadbury needed to sell more chocolates to use his company’s cocoa butter surplus. Victorians were great fans of Valentine’s Day; they expressed their love in elaborate greeting cards (postage was affordable.) Chocolate became available to the masses (sugar had become cheaper), so Cadbury created a moment of marketing magic, the heart-shaped chocolate box. This beautiful box was sold as a dual-purpose gift because after your sweetheart ate the chocolates, she could use the heart-shaped box to store love letters and romantic mementos.1 In the US, Hershey chocolates made their famous kisses in 1907 continuing the romantic alliance.2
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?
Women in the Garden
March is unpredictable. One day it’s windy, the next day calm. Sprouts of green spring up from mud and buds begin to swell on bare branches of trees. Around the middle of the month, people cheer about their ancestry, start dancing a jig and profess a belief in leprechauns and fairies. Then when an entire hour suddenly disappears, everyone gets very emotional about it. We celebrate Women’s History during all of these disruptions, and it seems a perfect time as women often navigate these tempestuous events behind the scenes.
When a Tree Has to Go
For years, I’ve gardened under the shade of a neighbor’s soaring pine trees, it’s branches extending far over my patio, the grill, and my orange tree. Their dark, dense canopy obstructing the light from the flower beds below. Now, the shade, the pollen, the pine cones, the needles, and the acidic air, are all gone. The change is extraordinary. The view eastward is wide open; the early morning sky, and moonrise, are visible.
I’m thinking of Nicaragua
“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
Did this happen?
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.
Gardening Since 1545
We live in a world seemingly obsessed with lists; we have lists for the largest, fastest, tallest, longest, oldest, of nearly everything you can imagine. As I began my visit to the Padua Botanic Garden in northern Italy, I entered with the assumption; this is the world’s oldest known botanic garden. The small print in the garden brochure states it is the world’s oldest university garden in its original place of origin. The garden, in continuous operation since 1545, is a very old garden. Only the Botanical Garden of the University of Pisa rivals this claim as it was established in 1544 under the rule of Cosimo I de” Medici but was relocated in 1563. Making it very old but different.