Recently I went to Spokane, WA to speak to the Inland Empire Gardeners*, a phenomenal garden club with hundreds of members and unaffiliated with any national club organization. This club operates under a board of directors, and a three-sister management team that keeps its members educated about growing trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables in Spokane Valley.
In Chicago’s Millennium Park there is a shiny, reflecting sphere officially titled Cloud Gate or more popularly known as “The Bean.” This round, bright, reflective sculpture attracts visitors to a selfie experience unlike anywhere else to be found. In Paris there is an equally bright, shiny, and round reflective sculpture in Parc de La Villette, at 118’ feet in diameter, it’s simply the largest gazing ball I have ever seen. This sculptural centerpiece is surrounded by trees and tucked inside is an IMAX theatre. But both of these are dwarfed in comparison to the Floralis Genérica, a stainless steel and aluminum flower in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I wander the world looking for glorious gardens. I’m always noticing the trees and the flowers where ever I go. Today I was going to Home Depot, and I found a glorious southwest spring display. The Hacienda Children’s Hospital at 610 W Jerome Ave, in Mesa, AZ opened in October of 2015. My usual side street approach to Home Depot allowed me to watch the construction of the building from its earliest beginnings. It is a beautiful structure w/ an integrated steel tree rising up the side of the building and framing the entryway canopy. It has been attention grabbing from the start. The facility was designed by the Devenney Group, who specializes in medical architecture. I’ve contacted them to find out who the landscape architect is for this project because right now, this moment the landscape has blossomed into its full glory. The plants are just a bit over three years in the ground and the time combined with the wet winter has created a moment of true desert glory.
The Longue Vue House and Garden, New Orleans, LA, built in 1942, by Edgar & Edith Stern is a masterwork of design. Every room in the house looks out on a perfectly placed scene in the garden. Imagine having the foresight and the resources to set your home on the land in such a way that every window offers a connection to the garden looking out on a painting done with plants. Ellen Biddle Shipman considered the dean of women landscape architects, influenced the integration of the garden views in the design of the home. This was created at Longue Vue. The story of the Sterns* is inspiring in every way. The garden is quite genuinely genius in design.
The Ladew Topiary Garden in Maryland is on the list of 1001 Gardens to See. Another list counts it among the top ten topiary gardens in the world. Others rank it as one of the top five gardens in North America. Wherever it falls on a list, it’s a true wonder. Yes, today topiary has its critics as it is not a naturalistic style for gardening. The best shrubs for topiary of yew, hemlock, and privet are not popular in today’s small private gardens. Yet a visit to Ladew Topiary is a walk in a world of green filled with art, color, and surprises.
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.
When the garden was finished in early December we sat down for a minute to enjoy it. We had a party on New Year’s Eve Afternoon and shared our happiness with many friends. Then we waited for things to grow. The weather was mild, wonderful and perfect for growing.
Sometimes the treasures closest to home are the ones we miss. One of our Arizona treasures is La Posada Resort in Winslow, AZ. Built in 1929 it is described as “the last great railroad hotel.” It is Mary Coulter’s architectural masterpiece. She designed 21 projects for Fred Harvey. “Mary Coulter was hired by the Fred Harvey Company in 1903 to design fine hotels, restaurants, and gift shops along the Santa Fe Railway. She became America’s most influential woman designer. . . . This was her favorite project, the only time she was allowed to design everything from the buildings (to the china, maid’s uniforms,) to the gardens.”(laposada.org) Her plan was to create an oasis in the high plateau of the Colorado River to greet the guests arriving by train. LaPosada opened in 1930 and in a turn of history’s fortunes, her garden plans were never fully realized.