Penelope Lively in her book, Life in a Garden, writes “. . gardening has this embracing quality in that it colors the way you look at the world.” I like that thought and I believe it. I believe it is a very good thing.
Matthaei Botanical Garden, Ann Arbor, MI affiliated w/ University of Michigan.
We were confused about where to park and as a result we ended up at the far side of the office building away from the main entrance of the conservatory. This turned out to be the best possible start to the day.
I was walking the red brick sidewalks of Germantown near downtown Columbus, OH when I stopped mid-step. Before me, evidence of a passionate plants person appeared. Gardeners can’t hide their enthusiasm for life, they reveal themselves, with flowering vines leaking out through the fence,
I arrived on Mackinac Island for the 70th annual Lilac festival in June 2018. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes to reach the island and it was a blue sky, puffy white cloud day with calm waters day.
“a landscape of a painting of a landscape”
Wander into the painting
Topiary Park in Columbus Ohio is an amazing landscape. It is in the words of its creator, James T Mason, “a landscape of a painting of a landscape. … If an artist can paint a picture of a landscape — art mimicking nature — then why not a sculptor creating a landscape of a work of art — nature mimicking art? The topiary garden is both a work of art and a work of nature.”
For the past month, I have been on a long road trip driving highways in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and western New York. The long distances of highways are tunnels of green with tall maples and soaring oaks on either side. The view is occasionally broken up by homesites of impressive farms with huge barns and fields of green. I’m looking for gardens along the way.
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.
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.
This month begins the ninth year of A Traveling Gardener, wandering, wondering, noticing. . . and I want to thank all of my readers who have been encouraging, interested, and appreciative of my garden stories. I hope you have been inspired to visit more gardens when you travel. I went into my archives and found the first story of exploring the world through gardens. My enthusiasm has only increased as I travel to these wonderful places. I am sharing that original article with you and including update resources for finding gardens all over the world.
Reporting from Iowa
This just in, Iowa has beautiful gardens and parks, with grand trees, roses, hostas, and lakes. Despite the frenzy of Iowa’s political caucuses happy people are ice skating on the lagoon in Vander Veer Botanical Park and Conservatory in Davenport.