A mini adventure really. A weekend at Walnut Farm near Georgian Bay and the Beaver Valley. My sister-in-law and her husband have a 19th century farm and some lovely garden specimens. Thought I’d share these with you.
I’ve just returned from a business trip to Nashville, one of my favourite American cities. The charm of the city extends well beyond my favorite pockets like The Gulch, Belle Meade, Green Hills, Hillsboro village and 12 Avenue South, to off the radar spots like Franklin and Liepers Fork – a couple of my two favourite haunts. Neighboring the famous Belle Meade Golf and Country Club of Nashville is the Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art. This is the original Cheek family home and estate, of Maxwell House Coffee fame, which is now a public destination. It is serene and picturesque. A good place to spend a morning or full day if you have children.
This spring has been toggling between quite warm and quite cool. Not a lot of rain, but the plants are coming up beautifully nonetheless. I love this time of the year because of how fertile and lush the garden looks. All of the new growth adds a vibrant green to the existing palette. Everything is fresh and in bloom, not yet fatigued by summer heat.
My big surprise on this garden adventure was The John & Mable Ringling Estate and Museum of Art. While I’ve been to Sarasota a few times over the years, I had never felt compelled to check this spot out. However, having just seen the movie “Water for Elephants”, and recollections of my parents taking me to see the Barnum and Bailey Circus when I was a boy, I thought, why not? It turned out to be a highlight – a full day of intriguing variety and insightful adventure. Well worth the investment.
The Naples Botanical Garden was highly recommended and although it’s reasonably new, it was well worth the visit. I was surprised how much there was to see. I took some shots of our visit for your enjoyment, and my own. They have a wonderful collection of tropical plants, very well laid out and organized. The various regional gardens are thoughtfully displayed and all of the plants are labeled with both the Latin and English names. Even my wife, who is far less interested in botanical destinations, found it a beautiful place to spend time and enjoy the various vistas. There were many school trips going on while we were there and while we did our best to avoid them, their presence impressed me. Especially witnessing the excitement and level of engagement the kids had in learning more about ecology and botany. NBG seems to be very innovative in using their grounds for a wide variety of events and educational endeavours. What an amazing environment to learn from outside of the classroom. The staff was both enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
When putting together a garden space, having unique elements that ooze character and charm are essential for building the desired outcome. Many of the things I’ve referenced from my travels, either virtually through books and magazines, or physically visiting other places, have had a significant influence in the constructing of our new garden at Forestwood. We have designed our property to provide many quiet spots in an effort to create sanctuary.
I recently returned from a wonderful working vacation in Gasparilla. I love to see the island in late Spring before things get too hot. It’s really the best time to see the blooms and gardens before they fatigue in the intense summer heat of Florida. You won’t find many plastic Flamingos on the island – here it’s the real thing – live Egrets or Cranes strutting private lawns.
Italy is not unduly romanticized for its spectacular history of beautiful vistas and culture of belissimo! Where there are beautiful vistas there are beautiful gardens. I had the pleasure of spending a wonderful day in Ravello on the western cliffs of Italy, above Amalfi. The whole region was fantastic, but I will never forget the gardens of Ravello. In fact if you plan to visit, I’d recommend you stay at the Villa Cimbrone, which sits just on the edge of this magnificent property. Three miles of twisty mountain roads up from Amalfi, the gorgeous resort of Ravello has been attracting celebrities for centuries, including Greta Garbo, Gore Vidal and D.H. Lawrence, who wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover here.