I returned recently from spending a week in the Garden of Eden. Eight years ago, I was privileged to visit a fabulous garden in Argentina (La Carolina, a private estate), and it has only become lovelier with the growth of numerous ornamental trees.
The trip got me thinking about my most memorable travel experiences; the best of them included gardens.
Not everyone planning a vacation or business trip will think about gardens to visit. But if you are reading this column, you are likely to be one of those lucky people who are drawn to nature and enjoy exploring its beauty.
Planning your travels presents the opportunity to do research that might turn up an unexpected treat.
A few years ago, when we were planning a trip to a horticulture conference in Rotterdam, my husband, Gene (a research scientist), spent a few minutes on the Internet and presented me with a whole page of noted gardens to visit in Rotterdam and nearby towns in Holland. The university botanical garden in that city was breathtaking. Some of the most famous garden designers in the world are Dutch and my first exposure to the concept of gardening in “drifts” of a single plant or color left me with an “aha” moment I will never forget.
After the conference, we took the train to Paris, and although we enjoyed seeing the historical sites, beautiful parks and gardens in the city, a little research in the guidebooks resulted in a day exploring Monet’s home and garden in Giverney. Then we took a trip to Rosarie d L’Hay, a famous garden five kilometers outside Paris where roses have been bred for more than 100 years. Many of their spectacular roses are available in the U.S., and I now have a rose of the same name in my garden.
Last year, I shared a division of this rose with the Master Gardener Community Education Garden along Western Avenue. Look for its luscious double magenta blooms when you visit this summer.
You may not be going to Europe right away, so consider visiting spectacular gardens in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle and Portland are two of the most well-regarded gardening communities in the world. The Bellevue Botanical Garden is famous for its perennial border and its Japanese Garden. Tacoma is home to Lakewood Gardens and the Weyerhauser rhododendron species garden. Take time to visit the Rose Garden in Portland when you are there in spring or summer.
Did you know that the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has a wonderful botanical garden that is both beautiful and educational? Victoria is famous for the Butchart Gardens, but there are other fascinating gardens worth a visit right in town. Look in the guidebooks and visit the tourist information booth for pamphlets on less well known but worthwhile gardens.
Another destination, a little further afield, is Australia. Every state has a Royal Botanical Garden full of plants, wildlife and designs native to that particular part of the country, as well as glasshouses that showcase tropical plants, succulents and flowers from all over the world. You could get lost in any one of these gardens and be hard to find for days!
But that’s not all — people in Australia and New Zealand have not forgotten their English-gardening heritage. After visiting the Royal Garden in Tasmania, we looked in the local newspaper and spotted a garden tour advertised in a small town 30 miles from the city. We drove there the next day and had one of the most enchanting days of our lives sharing in their garden festivities, a concert by a local band (famous for having played at the wedding of the crown prince of Denmark to a Tasmanian) and eating sausages and homemade goodies! I’ll never forget meeting such friendly and interesting people.
So do a little research, get out of town and find those intriguing gardens wherever you go. You’ll be glad you did!
A WSU Master Gardeners of Chelan County column appears regularly in the Home, Garden section. Gloria Kupferman is one of five columnists featured.