It’s that time of year to connect with family and friends, a tradition that sweetens the season for us. I hope you and those you love are preparing for your favorite holiday traditions.
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.
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.
I’m not gardening with all native plants! Life is too short to limit one’s garden to plants that are “indigenous to a given area in geologic time.” Sure there are lots of benefits for that approach in gardens but I’m diversifying. Every garden travel adventure introduces me to new plants. The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Tropico’s plant database reports “Botanists have published more than 1.2 million plant names since 1753,” so there is no way I will ever see all the genus, species, and hybrids. Just thinking of all the possibilities for my little piece of earth makes me do a happy dance. When I find a Bat flower (Tacca chantrieri) blooming in the shape of a flying bat or the African turtle plant, (Dioscorea elephantipes) that grows a big woody base resembling the shell of a turtle, I get curious, I get excited, I want to see if I could grow it in my garden.
Driving down a coast road I wondered, “What will grow along the sea, with salt air, wind and waves?” Turns out really quite a lot of wonderful things. I knew immediately a grand gardener lived here as we arrived at a coastal side patch of grass and waves of orange gazanias (daisy style) blooms accented by a rustic bench set to enjoy the views of the rocky beach. Coast Haven garden on the Taranaki Garden Festival tour has been under the care of one gardener for the past 30 years.
We’ve been traveling in New Zealand for just a week and already I’ve been asked “Do you ever get tired of visiting gardens?” Exploring the world through gardens brought me here. How can anyone get tired of seeing such incredible beauty, creativity, and passion of gardeners?
Visiting Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Ga I arrived just in time to take in the Dogwood Festival. I love street art fairs. I feel so inspired as I wander through seeing the original creations made by artists who see the world in a unique way creating powerful expressions of their view. The Dogwood Art festival began in 1936 and it is hard to imagine how many incredible new art creations have occurred in all the years of this event.
The Blithewold, Mansion sits surrounded by woodlands and a grand lawn looking out on an ocean view. Established in 1895 the last surviving family member lived in the home until 1976. These old estate gardens change over the years but some specific elements remain to help you see what was there. The word Blithewold means “happy woodlands” and so trees were an important part of the landscape. A 90 yr. old Sequoia is doing very well.
Visiting gardens I see so many beautiful plants growing from the ground, on the vine, the bush, the stem. Yet gardeners have a bit of a competitive streak and when fair time rolls around the very best of the garden is picked, cleaned, and shined to taken to the fair. The Bethlehem, CT fair had some great garden specimens on display.
There are truly special days when I wander into a garden and it is perfect and it was just such a day at Untermyer Park. It is a walled garden, the size of a football field. Persian gardens inspired the creation of this walled space with its four quadrants defined by low water ways. Classical Greek columns and a Temple to the sky are part of the white stone framework of the space. In 1922 it was described as “America’s Most Spectacular Garden.” Now as a public park of NYC it underwent a revitalization beginning in 2011. This year’s planting worked with a limited palate of plants with black foliage, deep purple, lavenders, chartreuse and spots of yellow. The plants were elephant ears, sweet potato vine, verbenas, anemones, and hostas. Mid September, put the plants at a peak of growth. Enjoy the photos and if you are ever in Yonkers, NY, do stop and be dazzled!