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.
A creative gardener transforms a strip of land into a magical garden
Gardeners today have less space, less water and seem less able to lavish time on their patch of ground. Yet ask nearly any gardener and they have no less desire for a beautiful garden outside their door. Inspired, creative thinking coupled with a fascination of the world of succulents enabled Lisa, a member of the Laguna Beach Garden Club in CA to transform a 15’ wide side yard strip of ground into a magical mix of low water use plants and artful touches, creating two thematic gardens.
“Signs, Signs, everywhere there’s signs,
messin’ up the scenery, breaking’ my mind.”
(The Five Man Electrical Band)
Public gardens welcome curious visitors from all over the world. They enter eager to learn about the land, plants, trees and rocks of a particular place. Many gardens proudly highlight the entrance with an eye catching sign, often nestled among a beautifully landscaped bed of flowers. Once inside, posted signs act as the voice speaking directly to visitors. When it comes to signs everywhere, some are creative offenders and a few are just plain offenders.
Ruth Bancroft’s succulent and cactus garden in Walnut Creek, CA has been growing since 1972. This was before prolonged drought conditions introduced gardeners to such interesting plants as Aeoniums, Agaves, Aloes, Euphorbias, Sedums and Yuccas.
This year is a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the signing of the law founding our National Parks Service. In February a 3D IMAX film, National Parks Adventure, narrated by Robert Redford was released. The film flies viewers over canyons, red rock arches, and walks them into ice caves near Lake Superior. Highlighting 30 of the 58 national parks, there are moments where you feel the urge to reach out and touch the ice crystals and rock walls. Seeing the film will inspire you to “Find Your Park” which is the theme for the yearlong celebration.
If you are visiting downtown Seattle board the monorail and ride directly to the Space Needle, the most iconic image of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The 74 acre Seattle Park is a prime destination with many attractions to choose from. The Pacific Science Center is designed to inspire budding scientists of all ages, the 3D IMAX theatre is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Parks, the Music Center plays the history of rock and roll and the International musical fountain invites you in for a splash.
“To many people, a cactus is the tall, spiny plant that they have seen in films of the Wild West.” (Miles Anderson, Cactus & Succulent Guide)
It is citrus season. Outside my door the oranges are ripening on an overloaded tree providing a surplus of the sweet fruit. If you don’t have a tree right outside your door, you can still find an abundance of the succulent fruit right down the street at your supermarket.
Some ideas take a long time to grow and The Oregon Garden is just such an idea. The Oregon Association of Nurseries had long wanted (since 1940) a demonstration garden to highlight the incredible variety of plants grown in the area. Since 1968, the citizens of Oregon have been leaders in protecting the climate, air, water, and landscape. In the early 1980’s when the city of Silverton, Oregon (an hour south of Portland) needed to manage treatment of its waste water and maintain wetlands for wildlife, naturally, all kinds of ideas began to sprout.
As a southwest gardener, wandering into a northwest woodland garden is an exciting experience. Here are the shade plants of azaleas, jack-in-the pulpit, mayflower, hostas and rhododendrons. There are great varieties of tree bark textures, conifer needles and dazzling shades of green. Discovering the Stumpery Garden in the Rhododendron Species Garden in Federal Way, WA was a surprise, full of wonderous wood and glorious green. Here I had my first encounter with what is described as a “Victorian period garden romanticizing nature.” The intention is to show the wild side of nature using tree roots and stumps placed upside down or on their sides. The wild nature of hefty, twisted tree roots presents a vastly different, and somewhat dramatic view of trees. The ends jut up and out, their trunks ripped at the ends, lying in varying stages of decay, arranged in fences, circles or as a single focal point. The root pockets become natural planting spaces for a variety of ferns.