Blooms Upon the Water

Monet wrote of his pond at Giverny,

“It took me a long time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pure pleasure of it and I grew them without thinking of painting them…And then, all of a sudden, I had the revelation of the enchantment of my pond. I took up my palette. Since then I’ve had no other model.”Monet’s Water Lilies, Vivian Russell...   Continue Reading

Zest for Life

Sitting on a Paris bench in May I was enjoying a view of the Eiffel Tower.  The beds of the park had been freshly dug exposing the rich dark soil and I knew colorful summer plants would be arriving soon.  An elderly woman came walking through the grass pulling her shopping cart. She stopped at the flower bed. In the bright light of day she removed her red trowel and a plastic shopping bag. Bending over she began carefully filling the bag with fresh soil....   Continue Reading

Royal Palace Gardens of Alcazar, Seville, Spain

I became impatient listening to the tour guide explain 700 years of Spanish history.  Already I calmly sat through a long bus ride from the port of Cadiz to Seville to get to the Royal Palace Gardens of Alcazar.  I wanted only to see the garden.  So. . . . I slipped away from our tour group....   Continue Reading

Flowering Branches

Perhaps the very instant spring begins is that brief sunny moment when bare branches burst from bud to flower. Dormant limbs feeling the stir of seasonal change bud and swell with the news that winter is waning. Seemingly overnight the bleak branch canopy suddenly commands our attention as we notice the burst of flowers filling a tree.  Flowers before leaves, before fruit and seed pods simply fascinate a gardener, who willingly rakes and sweeps the debris that follows the spectacular show of flowering trees....   Continue Reading

Fruit & Vegetable Resolutions

Eyeful, Plateful, Basketful!

Oh the ritual of new year’s resolutions challenging us to be our better self has come around again. The predictable but valid ones reappear; save money, spread kindness, and eat better are high on the list.  As gardeners, at least one of our resolutions is likely to include something related to fruits and vegetables.  We not only resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables but to grow our own bountiful harvest! There are many wonderful reasons deeply rooted in our souls which drive us to succeed, yet how disappointing when our seeds of optimism dry up.  However, I have a fruit and vegetable resolution that is truly attainable.  Resolve to get an eyeful of the beauty fruits and vegetables provide all year long....   Continue Reading

Gazing Balls

Bright & Shiny

This time of year Christmas trees decorated with lights and ornaments are showing up all around the town.  If you decorate a tree with traditional glass ornaments in red, gold, or silver you will see the beauty surrounding you reflected in their shiny surface.  Stories of glass ball ornaments trace back to the 1800’s in Germany, though the origin of glass balls has been documented back to the 1300’s.  Venetian glass blowers began creating colorful spheres  as gazing balls to reflect the light and the view of gardens. The fragile and colorful balls were a sign of wealth and status used to accessorize the gardens of kings. King Ludwig II, King of Bavaria during the 1800’s, adorned his palace, Herrenchiemsee, his replica of Versailles, with these gazing balls.  Could there be a connection?...   Continue Reading

Madeira, Portugal, Island of Flowers

Painting in plants creates art.  This art is the highlight of the Jardin Botanico in Madeira, Portugal.  Landscape design is a combination of texture, color, structure, climate and patience.  An artist working in oil must allow time for the canvas to completely dry.  The garden painter working with a palate of plants must wait for the art to grow.  All this must be done again and again to keep the art of the garden in view.  It is a significant commitment.  As a living creation it requires devotion far beyond the painter using oil and brush.  Once the painting is sent out into the world the painter has little if any further stewardship.  This is not so for a garden creation....   Continue Reading