Living in the wide open southwest I’m used to lots of space, wide streets and a spacious patch of earth to grow flowers, vegetables, and trees. Traveling this summer in Mediterranean cities I found an entirely different spatial atmosphere.
Time in a garden is my favorite way to enjoy the day. Yet how do I know how many hours have flown by as I continue wandering down the garden path? Happily, I discover a sundial, often surrounded by herbs, centered as a focal point in a sunny patch of the garden. I’ve always checked the time on a sundial. Just looking at one makes me think my garden isn’t complete without a sundial.
Fellow garden lover Curtis Siller recently traveled to Minneapolis and while there visited Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and he offers this visit.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (MLA), in Chaska, recently won top spot in the “Best Botanical Garden in the United States” contest by USA Today. MLA covers more than 1,200 acres of gardens, woods and prairies, showcasing over 5,000 plant species. It displays flowering shrubs, trees and plants, interspersed with sculpture,places for meditation and reflection, and special exhibitions. An adjoining building contains a horticultural library and conservatory.
In my continuing quest to visit gardens in all 50 states in the US, I traveled to Virginia for the Historic Home and Garden tour also known as “America’s Largest Open House.” Each year some 30,000 enthusiastic visitors turn out to enjoy the beauty and superb organization of this tour.
I’ve traveled cross-country from Arizona to Indiana and back multiple times over the years and each time the goal is to find a different way to explore. If your travels find you driving through the heart of this country, Powell Gardens or Wichita in Kansas are excellent stops. In Illinois, Allerton Park or the Champaign Prairie Walk are great for stretching your legs. If you take a southern route don’t miss both the Dallas and & Ft. Worth Gardens in Texas, or in Missouri the Botanical Garden in St. Louis. However, I would propose there is no prettier mid-point stop in a drive across the continental US than Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha Nebraska. Located along the Missouri River where the soil is rich and fertile, gardeners have worked magic in 20 thematic spaces.
Napier, NZ is a remarkable cityscape of Art Deco architecture. As beautiful as it is, its very existence is the result of a great destructive tragedy. In 1931, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake lasting 1:31 minutes demolished the city, rearranged the sea coast and forever changed the topography of the area. During our seven week visit to New Zealand, we experienced a brief 10-second rock and roll aftershock of the devastating Akaroa earthquake in 2016. I found it a sobering glimpse of what an earthquake means to a community. For Napier in 1931, the added economic weight of the Great Depression would seem to dash any hope the town could rebuild itself. Commercial buildings and homes all needed to be rebuilt. But within two years Napier did rise from its destruction and as a result built a modern, artful city.
The Tucson Botanical Garden (TBG) is a green oasis in central Tucson. Spring is a wonderful time to visit, the aloe alley is in bloom, the barrio garden bright with spring color, the world class cactus collection is flowering and the blue and white garden is flush with the new growth of herbs.
Fantastic Flowers, Written & Illustrated by Susan Stockdale Children’s nonfiction/nature, Ages 4-94 222.peachtree-online.com
Learning to see involves looking closely and learning the language to describe what is right before our eyes. Fantastic Flowers is a perfect introduction for budding gardeners to explore the blooms in the flower beds of the world. Susan Stockdale’s beautiful illustration of the shapes of flowers that look like upside down pants, prim ballerinas, or wild baboons introduces early readers to an imaginative view of nature. A flower is not just a flower but can be compared to the shapes of other known objects. A hybrid Osteospermum spirals out in the shape of spoons, the hybrid Calceolaria represents a purse with a flap. Teaching children to name what they see helps them remember and will spark their curiosity to look more closely at the beauty of the world.
During 2016 Rich, my husband, driver, and photographer, and I, flower fanatic, writer, and gardener, visited 134 new gardens. We traveled in the west to Seattle, San Francisco, Cheyenne, Boulder, and Ft. Collins. We did a tour through Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and a small area of northern Florida. We traveled seven weeks in New Zealand visiting 102 gardens. Viewing the world through the lens of a garden has given us a further education in history, geography, sociology, botany, art, and cultures, especially horticulture and agriculture.
If you want to visit gardens in NZ, as the locals would say, “Good on ya!” This is a country of gardeners. New Zealand’s soil and climate make for beautiful gardens and everything seems to grow here.