Gnome News

ramblings of a plant lover

Park Güell, Barcelona

Mr. Disney is going to be owing some serious royalties on the other side for “borrowing” such obvious inspiration from Gaudí.

Park Güell was named after its original owner Eusebi Güell, who commissioned Gaudí to design this wealthy estate property on Muntanya Pelada (bare mountain) in 1900. This highlight experience from a recent trip to Barcelona was a crescendo of innovative architecture and gardens all wrapped up the way it should be. Considering the context of time, and surprisingly fantastical, Park Grüell is the height of whimsy, creativity and wonder. From the building stock, to sculpture, to hardscaped paths and bridges set in the heart of a beautifully-designed garden park, perched high above the city, this is one special place.

The plan was to build some sixty houses on the development, along with common services for the residents: porter’s lodge, visitor reception, a large square, market, a chapel and a surveillance service. Nature was to play a prominent role, and the conditions established for building stipulated that each house could only occupy one-sixth of its plot; the garden would occupy the rest. Park Güell was a failure as a real estate venture, and only two of the sixty houses planned were actually built. Work stopped in 1914 and the residential area was never completed.

UNESCO declared it a Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1984. If you have the good fortune to turn up in the architecturally astounding city of Barcelona, Park Grüell is a must see. Here are a few memory snaps from my afternoon visit – enjoy.


The Porter’s Lodge at the gates of Park Güell.

The Armchair Book of Gardens – A Miscellany

It’s a pleasure to recommend this wonderful coffee table book for my garden friends from Jane Billinghurst and Greystone Books D&M Publishers Inc. As the title declares, it’s a wonderful ‘miscellany’ of prose, stories and images exploring the sensual, spiritual, aesthetic, social, and even political nature of gardens. This collection from various points in human history features a wide variety of writers and beautiful illustrations. Delightful to the eye and inspirational to the mind. You can’t go wrong.


Share Land, Share Life

A friend of mine, Armin Gottschling, had the idea that maybe someone might want to make use of the generous space in the backyard of his urban home to create a vegetable garden this summer. How things unfolded was actually quite remarkable, providing one of the most unique garden experiences of all my adventures so far. He contacted a local group online called the Newcomer Environmental Club, formed as part of a joint initiative between FutureWatch EDEP and Conservation Halton, connecting new communities in the area to their natural surroundings. The result was a bountiful harvest that was rewarding for all.


Summer Vignettes

The cool wet spring and sluggish summer has resulted in an extraordinary lush garden this year. It’s certainly advanced the maturity of many of the plants. Here are a few vignettes from early summer at Forestwood.


Kevyn Bashore’s Garden Sanctuary

Usually “Garden Adventures” are my garden adventures, but this time I’m featuring a Facebook friend, Kevyn Bashore’s garden project in Pennsylvania, designed as a tribute to his parents. I’ve only visited it virtually, but thought it made a great story of a garden being a gift of love and honour.

before and after

Flora Farms

A friend of mine sent me a link of a place he stumbled on in Mexico, Flora Farms. He said their whole presentation “was almost Riordonian”. I think I get what he meant. Anyway I thought you might enjoy checking it out.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 9.50.11 AM

Centro Garden

I can’t help but be slightly envious of this wonderful new store in neighbouring downtown Burlington. I love their aesthetic and the way they mix garden and lifestyle to create such an inviting and unique retail experience. Check out their website or better yet, pay them a visit at 437 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario. They’re open all year around, but the store opens up outside once the warmer season arrives.