Garden Adventures

New Year’s Day

You don’t always have to travel a great distance to enjoy completely different surroundings; the beauty of nature, a garden or amazing property.

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Friends from Toronto invited us to their magnificent farm they’ve recently purchased in Northumberland County for a New Year’s visit and a wonderful walk through their wooded acreage. The former owners of this 70 acre estate farmed Dogwood, Curly Willow, Hydrangea and other perennials that they harvested and sold to many of the nurseries in the GTA, usually during the holiday season. They also used them to teach basket weaving and create other hand-crafted garden architectural products for sale.

Christmas at Walnut Farm

This Christmas was quietly special, spent with family at their farm just west of the Beaver Valley, near Georgian Bay. While this winter hasn’t been abundant with snow so far, Walnut Farm was blessed with a fresh falling just in time for a picture perfect holiday.

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In spite of our hibernating gardens in Canada, the architecture of plantings, trees, berries and bordering evergreen add to the unique seasonal beauty of this cold dormant season. I’d encourage you to consider this even in the spring and summer as you plan for garden improvements. Imagine all of the seasons, the winter especially, and what you might include in your ongoing plans to ensure that half of the year is well accounted for in the garden design.

Gardens – Turks & Caicos Style

It’s no secret I love tropical climates, and not just for the warmer temperatures, but also for the lush green vegetation. There’s something particularly exotic about well designed gardens in such places, distinct from anything at home in my growing zone.

To celebrate the end of a significant chapter in our lives and the beginning of a new one, we planned a two week escape to the beautiful Caribbean destination of Turks & Caicos. We stayed at the urban chic Gansevoort on Grace Bay for the first week and then took a most memorable boat ride to COMO Parrot Cay for the second week. While the two properties were extraordinary, each provided very unique experiences.

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Of course I always pay particular attention to the landscaping, the gardens, the design of the setting. I’ve found this always plays a critical role in the overall lasting impression of a destination. It really sets the stage and creates a sense of holiday, mystery and excitement about being somewhere remarkably appointed. In this regard, neither resort disappointed.

Venice, Italy

I’ve visited Italy a few times, but had never made it to Venice. Well, my new favourite city in Italy. Venice is one of the most uniquely beautiful cities I’ve ever visited for a whole bunch of reasons, but for the purposes of this post, the gardens were extraordinary.

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Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

I couldn’t have anticipated the continuous beauty of the historic gardens of Colonial Williamsburg. The majority of Williamsburg’s gardens were planted between the 1930’s and 1960’s. A renewed public interest in the American colonial past began to stimulate the preservation of old homes, resulting in the Colonial Revival style.

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Villa Rufolo | Ravello, Italy

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I’ve seen some spectacular places on the planet, but when I think of gardens few places have the legacy of beauty that Italy has. This past fall I returned a third time to the Amalfi coast to enjoy a different season in Ravello, and in particular to visit for the first time the gardens of Villa Rufolo.

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The Arthur Meighen Gardens, Stratford, Ontario

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The grounds around the Stratford Festival are worth the trip, even if you’re not particularly fond of Mr. Shakespeare and his work. It had been some time since I’d been there, regretfully. My wife takes an annual pilgrimage weekend with her mom and sisters to hang out and take in a production.

Unfortunately I only brought my iPhone and so, with no real camera in hand, my image account of this surprisingly impressive garden fell short of what it might have been. That and the crowds made the potential for good picture-taking somewhat limited. None the less, the point of this blog is to bring attention to beautiful botanical destinations and not showcase my imagery. I hope this humble showcase will inspire a visit some bright summer day in the near future.

Not exploding popcorn on a stick!

Not exploding popcorn on a stick!

An Oasis in Sydney Part 1

One of the most memorable gardens I visited on a recent trip to Australia was Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, right along the harbour front in the heart of the city. Established in 1816, it is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia – home to an outstanding collection of plants from around the world with a focus on Australia and the South Pacific.

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Celebrating The Year of the Rooster

I recently crossed off a “bucket list” item by making the long arduous journey to the Land Down Under and had the wonderful privilege of visiting some amazing gardens while there. The exhausting journey was well worth the destination.

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We landed in Sydney on Australia Day. It may have been misunderstood initially that the fireworks were just for us. However, we soon realized all of the unusual festivities were celebrating a national holiday and it was to be shared. We even got to hear “Crowded House” (for those who remember) play at the Opera House amphitheatre (Circle Quay) – bonus!