My summer road trip began in Mesa, AZ and went as far east as Niagara Falls, Ontario, CA. I’d heard about the beauty and power of Niagara Falls since I was a kid, but this was my first look. The center of the Niagara River marks the border between the US and Canada. It is overwhelming to see the volume of water cascading over the falls. All my years of living in a desert landscape makes the exposure to swift moving rivers, great lakes, and the accompanying bridging structures quite startling. Everywhere you look there is water moving, alongside the road you are traveling, and then surprise, the location you are seeking is across yet another bridge. It is difficult to imagine living around so much water, there is moisture in the air, plants grow in abundance, and trees are everywhere. The change in landscape was demonstrated so clearly in the two gardens I explored, one on each side of the Falls.
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,
When I travel to visit gardens my husband and I have fully embraced Airbnb accommodations. We’ve traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Canada and many of the US States staying with hosting individuals in a room with a view. We look for properties with photos of gardens as part of their home since that assures us we have something in common before we arrive. I have nothing but good things to say about this type of travel experience, we meet interesting people, enjoy fantasy real estate both in location and floor plans. We find great surprises.
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.”
Its summer and I’ve been traveling for 6 weeks, driving highways in 16 states. Winding my way home I arrived in Dodge City KS. Dodge City, cow town, the place of wild west stories of Bat Masterson & Wyatt Earp. But I found another story, one that wasn’t the stuff of the cowboy movies.
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.
Hortense Miller Garden, Laguna Beach, CA
On a steep hillside of Boat Canyon overlooking artistic town of Laguna Beach and the Pacific Ocean is the two and a half-acre garden of Hortense Miller. I’ve never met a person named Hortense, but if you are given such a name, the derivative of which is Hortus as in garden, it seems likely you would love a garden. Hortense experienced a magical moment when she was five years old and her kindergarten teacher took the class on a walk “to look over a picket fence into the neglected front yard of an empty house. Thousands of dandelions had opened in the sunshine, standing knee-high in long grass”* and the glory of that moment influenced her for the rest of her life. By age 12 she declared she would: Never eat animals, never marry, and never have children.