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.
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.
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.
Gardens are my happy place, a refuge from the news, traffic, noise, and security checks. I embrace the blooms, the design, the human touch on a patch of the planet. It is a piece of heaven right under my feet.
The Alhambra & Generalife Gardens Granada, Andalusia, Spain
The Alhambra, in Granada, Spain looms large in the history of gardens. Monty Don, host of the British program, Gardener’s World, says “the Islamic mind changed the way the whole of Europe gardens” and the evidence bears this out the more I learn about the Islamic paradise garden.
Some of the best views in the world are from a garden.
If you find yourself in Monte Carlo and you don’t expect to win enough at the famed Beaux Arts Casino to shop for a Rolls Royce while you are there, I have the perfect adventure for you. Take the #2 city bus up the mountain to the end of the line to the La Jardin Exotic Botanical Garden. Hanging off a promontory point, nearly 500’ above the bustling tourist sites down by the harbor, this garden will give you spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea, and the bay filled with yachts and sailboats. Gazing afar you can see Italy. Looking below, you see the lavishly landscaped rooftop gardens of the surrounding high-rise buildings.
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.