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.
Gairloch Gardens in our little town of Oakville Ontario, so close. Sometimes we forget how special home is. Forestwood is but a few blocks from this wonderful oasis on the norther shores of Lake Ontario, just west of Toronto. This estate property bearing the Gaelic word for “short lake” was bequeathed to the Town of Oakville in 1971 when it’s owner James Gairdner died. Originally it was part of 400 acres of farm land, part of an 11 acre severance in 1922, purchased by Colonel William Mackendrick. I rarely document a garden in the winter, but truth is, a mature garden is always beautiful in every season. So while I almost suffered frost bite in 28 below celsius weather I did try to capture some of the beauty of this lovely old garden, which is still adorned by the original Tudor style house, now home to a local art gallery nestled in the southeast corner of the garden. In the warner months this garden is quite spectacular and much desired for wedding photography. www.oakvillegalleries.com
his summer we made two visits to Niagara-On-The-Lake, one of our favourite getaway spots nearby. The famous Shaw Theatre is the main drawing card, but this historic town and lovely vista on the Niagara River just north of the Falls, is simply exquisite. Not too far away is another stop we like, a town called, “Jordan”. My favourite store there is called, “The Copper Leaf Garden Store”. Not only do they have some really interesting things for your garden, the design and setting of their store is absolutely beautiful. I thought I might share some snaps of the store and by all means, if you have time drop in on them. They’re on the main street of Jordan, Ontario. “On The Twenty” is also worthwhile. A great place to eat.
First time to Hawaii and second time at a Four Seasons. Does the word “WOW!” come to mind? Yes. Any garden featuring daily whale jumps in the Pacific and volcanic tropical backdrops is pretty hard to top. The meticulous care of the property and gardens, as well as the natural setting is about as good as it gets.