January in New Orleans offers Camelias, live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, and the anticipation of Mardi Gras season. A walk through the Garden District with grand houses and mossy green balustrades gives a peak of the garden challenges in this area. In my garden every drop of water is precious and purposely placed, here water is in the air, and preventing overgrowth is part of gardening. One must pull out, cut back, lift up, so the chosen plants are allowed to see the sun.
The Longue Vue House and Garden, New Orleans, LA, built in 1942, by Edgar & Edith Stern is a masterwork of design. Every room in the house looks out on a perfectly placed scene in the garden. Imagine having the foresight and the resources to set your home on the land in such a way that every window offers a connection to the garden looking out on a painting done with plants. Ellen Biddle Shipman considered the dean of women landscape architects, influenced the integration of the garden views in the design of the home. This was created at Longue Vue. The story of the Sterns* is inspiring in every way. The garden is quite genuinely genius in design.
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.
In my pursuit of visiting gardens, I have many people look at me with curiosity, disdain, and pity; assuming that I limit myself, seeing the same things over and over again. One man commented I “wasn’t into art” and would, therefore, miss the great works that make us human. I smile and nod politely knowing full well a garden holds so much art, architecture, and stories, I feel sorry for those who are not into visiting gardens.
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.
Behind the beautiful garden images and half the fun of the garden visits all over the world is this guy, Rich, my husband of 45 years. Together we are exploring the world through gardens and having an exciting time. Our joint study of geography has reminded us of how big the world is and how easy it is to forget our country is not the center of the universe. We’ve met wonderful people everywhere we go and experienced some “aha moments” that continue to resonate in our view of the world.
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.
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, Cincinnati, Ohio
I’ve been extensively exploring gardens for over 10 years. My favorite photographer and husband Rich has willingly traveled along without complaint. That is right up until I wanted to visit cemeteries. He didn’t want to do that, but I did, and so we did. Initially I was the one climbing the hills and shooting the photos of all the amazing things there are to find in cemeteries, now we are both exploring this part of life.
One of my favorite BBC shows is “As Time Goes By” w/ Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer playing Jean and Lionel. In the show, many a dilemma is smoothed over with the quintessential British option of a Gin & Tonic. I notice that bit because my cocktail of choice is a G & T. After all what else should a gardener drink? Gin is infused w/ botanicals such as juniper berries, lemon peel, almonds, cucumber, chamomile, angelica root, apple, coriander, leaves, fruits, and flowers, it is a liquid combination of the garden. I’ve been traveling in England for a few weeks and I was surprised to discover that Gin is having its moment of fame all over the cocktail and retail scape of the country. How else can you explain the varieties of gins for sale in the market?
When someone tells you a destination is “wonderful” or “beautiful” and how they “loved” a particular city, you never quite know what it will be like for you, so it was for me as I headed to Barcelona, Spain. I had heard great things about this unique city and in just a few days of my arrival, I loved it beyond words. It is a city by the sea with a climate that draws the people, both locals and tourists out of doors to enjoy life walking tree-lined streets such as the Ramblas, enjoying the cafes, admiring the ironwork railings of balconies, and decorative doorways.