Gardens

Shukkei-en, Hiroshima: Beauty from ashes

A wedding at Shukkei-en, Hiroshima. Source: Pinterest.

Hiroshima, then and now: If you’re like me and have little first-hand knowledge of Japan, the city of Hiroshima conjures up images of tragedy. As World War II was straining towards its conclusion in the summer of 1945, Hiroshima became the first city to be attacked with a nuclear bomb. The effects of this were disastrous and are well documented. But our purposes today are not to zero in on the devastation that human beings are so adept at causing.Read more

Monet’s Garden (Giverny, France)

Water lilies and bridge at Giverny. Source: Pinterest.

Monet’s most beautiful masterpiece: Claude Monet (1840-1926) is best remembered as French impressionist painter of beautiful landscapes and water lilies. But he is reputed to have said, “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Monet’s purchased a home in Giverny, France and took up residence there in 1883. The landscaping of the property, and the creation of his flower and water gardens quickly became a passion. The flower garden Nearest to the house is a flower garden named “Clos Normand.”Read more

Prieuré d’Orsan (Berry, France)

Prieuré d'Orsan

A monastic ideal: A “potager garden” is the French version of a traditional kitchen garden. This style of gardening is meant to produce excellent edibles, but the garden itself is also designed to be beautiful. Flowers, edible and non-edible, are woven through the fruits and vegetables. The result is a companion planting dream. The monastic gardens of the middle ages would have resembled potagers because for the monks the garden was crucial as their source of food and medicine, butRead more

Sissinghurst Castle (Kent, UK)

Sissinghurst

A long history: One of the best-known sites in England, Sissinghurst had a long history before coming into the care of the National Trust in 1967. Its buildings date back to the 1500s, but after the dissolution of its owners, the site ended up as a workhouse in the 1800s. It then fell into further disrepair, becoming a “slovenly” farmhouse. It was not until 1930 that the site was purchased by a couple with a vision for a world-class garden.Read more

Bosco Verticale (Milan, Italy)

Bosco Verticale

The Vertical Forest of Milan: Bosco Verticale is not a garden in any traditional sense, but it is wonderful nonetheless. The project is a feat of architecture and engineering which brings a “vertical forest” (the English translation of “bosco verticale”) to the congested city of Milan. Completed in 2014, these two residential towers have won numerous awards and attracted international attention.   Green and Sustainable The passion for greening up urban spaces is not new, but it has certainly beenRead more

Ninfa (Latina, Italy)

Ninfa

The epitome of a Romantic Garden: When you think of an Italian garden, this is probably not what you think of. And though I have not been there myself, the images I’ve seen have convinced me that the Garden of Ninfa is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Ninfa is classified as a “romantic garden” in style, but in reality it epitomizes a romantic garden. Picturesque ruins, cascading roses and clear streams give it the look ofRead more

Courances (Gâtinais, France)

Château de Courances (Gâtinais, France)

A quick historical note: This château and park in Gâtinais was built around 1630, and like many great houses of bygone eras, it is now open to the public – if only during designated times. The family originally belonging to the estate traced roots back to a royal secretary to the King in the 16th century. After its purchase by a Baron in 1872, the estate continued to thrive and change, being used as a hospital during WWI, and falling underRead more

Alhambra (Granada, Spain)

The Alhambra, Spain

Landscape, Architecture, and Gardens: The Alhambra in Spain is perhaps most famous for its Islamic architecture and mountainous landscape. But the gardens – filled with fountains and roses, elms, orange trees, and myrtles – are also worthy of note. Though the styles and influences of both garden and architecture are mixed, the Alhambra is generally classified under “paradise gardens.” However you classify it, it is remarkable.   Conquest, Glory, and Ruin The Alhambra has a long and fascinating history spanningRead more