My visit to the Giardino degli Aranci got me pondering the subject of gardens. There were no flower beds or herbaceous borders in that gentle garden on the Aventine, but there was an intimacy and charm within those walls that made it feel like a sanctuary. Perhaps that is really the essence of what a garden is; a place to lose yourself or find yourself or just be. The word ‘garden’ derives from an ancient term, gard, referring to an enclosed space. There are traces of its ancient etymology in place names such as Stuttgart in Germany, Graz in Austria and Borujerd in Iran.
A love of gardening runs deep in me. Wherever I go, I find some small way to garden; growing tomatoes and the hottest of chili peppers on a windowsill, gathering seeds and propagating cuttings, adding a border to a friend’s garden. I love the smell and feel of earth and marvel at the sight of a new seedling rushing towards daylight. On my travels I seek out gardens to wander through, so here are a few gardens I have visited along the way.
It’s no secret I am in love with the work of Piet Oudolf and the romance of prairie planting, with feathery grasses and dried seedheads creating the most achingly delicate winterscapes. I spent many a winter’s day wandering through his garden creations in New York’s Battery and High Line parks.
I remember the serenity of the Zen Garden in Bainbridge Island’s Bloedel Reserve…
… the lush simplicity of a tiny bottle garden at the US Botanic Gardens in Washington DC…
…the playfulness of cottage gardens in the Hamptons…
…and the drama of exotic gardens in Guatemala, where I saw the gasp-inducing Jade flower for the very first time.
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Lead me down the garden path!
Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you. – Richard Brinsley Sheridan
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero