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.
England’s influence in gardening is both historic and far-reaching, so it is fitting that London has the Garden Museum. The Museum is built upon the site of the tombs of John Tradescant the Elder, gardener for Charles I, in 1630, and John Tradescant the younger, both considered the first great gardeners and plant hunters in British History. The old Victorian church, St Mary at Lambeth, was slated for demolition in the 1970’s when one woman, Rosemary Nicholson, rallied support to save this historic space. As restoration projects go it took time to redesign and finance the transformation of the oldest structure in Lambert Borough, located along the River Thames across from Parliament.
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.
“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 those of us who love flowers, it is hard to imagine anything more delightful than Daffodils. This sunny yellow flower trumpets the return of spring showing up in gardens, paintings, and poems. Its arrival promises to end gray winter days. If they are not sprouting up in your garden, you may find bundles of closed buds appearing in markets in early March. We snatch them up to bring the promise of sunshine into our homes. They are for me an addiction, I am determined to see them open and believe in the season to soon follow. The sweet scent entices me to close my eyes and think of green shoots, fertile soil and blue skies. Addiction may be the right word as “Victorians once thought the scent of daffodils to be as dangerous as any narcotic.” (Kingsbury) We truly can be made to be fearful of anything.
When you really, truly, deeply love gardens you are inspired to share this love with all you meet. When your work in landscape design spans 40 years, while earning you and your landscaping firm 250 design awards, recognition from three US first ladies, (Johnson, Regan, and Carter) and every day you have ideas about what you would like to grow, why not make a garden as a gift to the land you love? Create the garden on land in the south, where your family has deep horticultural roots, where your grandmothers passed on their love of gardening to you. Seriously, why not?
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.
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.
During 2016 Rich, my husband, driver, and photographer, and I, flower fanatic, writer, and gardener, visited 134 new gardens. We traveled in the west to Seattle, San Francisco, Cheyenne, Boulder, and Ft. Collins. We did a tour through Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and a small area of northern Florida. We traveled seven weeks in New Zealand visiting 102 gardens. Viewing the world through the lens of a garden has given us a further education in history, geography, sociology, botany, art, and cultures, especially horticulture and agriculture.