Friends planning a visit to a new garden struggled to pick the best time to go, wanting the garden to be at its’ peak perfection. Predicting the weather, wondering if it would rain, if the climate would be just right for the flowers to bloom they struggled to match their schedules to the hoped for perfect visit. Poet William Brown wrote “There is no season such delight can bring as summer, autumn, winter, spring.” When is the best season to visit a public garden? When will the garden reach its’ perfection? Whenever you get yourself to a garden, I believe you can find something good.
Traveling doesn’t always bring us to a garden on the day of perfection, yet what is perfection but a dangerous myth that can reduce our joy if we arrive before the blooms. If we only go when we believe the garden will be perfect we can miss so much. Most public gardens eagerly welcome visitors with special events and displays all your round. Don’t postpone your visit to wait for everything to be perfect!
Arriving on drizzly gray day late in May at Allerton Park near Champagne, IL. I wandered through the gardens of this grand old Estate which include a sunken garden surrounded by expansive 12’ white walls, a formal boxwood knot garden and a garden of peonies. Inside a walled bed an expanse of 24 varieties of peonies stood in bud. My visit was a week before the flowers. Yet the image of those buds just beginning to show pink was a spectacular show of expectation and the promise of spring.
In San Diego there is rarely an off season but a hot summer day in Balboa park sent me in search of shade. Wandering through the eucalyptus grove I was drawn to the massive roots of the Merton fig tree. No hues of green or flower in sight but the massive roots hold such fascination; rising up to four feet high from the ground to the top of the root.
January in Chicago Botanical Gardens is not the busiest season yet shades of brown, with a burst of red covered with fresh snow makes a beautiful scene. Strolling through the garden, sounds muffled by fresh snow and the clean cold awakens all your senses.
In our desert gardens March is my favorite season. The flash of wildflower colors in penstemons, poppy, flax and daisy are around every corner driving through our neighborhoods. Blooms on saguaros, aloes and palo verde provides a brief spectacular show.
The best season is now, the gardens are the gateway for us to connect to nature. Nature is there to awaken our senses, and keep us connected to the earth. Go to the garden on a windy day, a rainy day, on a cloudy day and it may just be the best day of the season.