Lavender and grasses swaying in the breeze. Clusters of African daisies smiling at the sun. Rocks landing in just the right places. Gardening is an art, with its palettes and textures, its shapes and sizes. But unlike in a painting, seasons and transitions also make gardening a science.
I have always been enamored by the gardener’s right brain/left brain masterpieces. Maybe someday I’ll get it, but until then I’ll travel to view others’ creations.
My life has been filled with flowers. My parents loved arboretums and gardens, and I tried to pass on that joy to my kids, starting at the Krohn Cronservatory in Cincinnati. It’s a wonderful place any time of year. And adding butterflies to the mix has made it even more awesome.
One spring, I took my three-year-old to Krohn’s famous orchid show, featuring rare and expensive orchids from around the world. Rare means hard to find, many years (up to fifteen) to grow, or endangered. I bent over a Hawaii exhibit and said, “Let’s see what $1,000 smells like.” My son was impressed. As we walked away, he said, “Here, Mommy. I picked this for you.”
From then on we only took our kids to exhibits where their acts of love were less costly.
Color lovers, like me, enjoy tulip season. Kuekenhof in the spring features rows and rows of vibrant color. It will inspire you to buy bulbs at Schipol Airport’s duty free shops on the way out. Ask the clerk which bulbs can be imported to the US. Sadly, the best ones can’t go home with you.
But tulip lovers can attend festivals here in the US. Though a little smaller than in The Netherlands, they have the same feel. Check out Holland, Michigan or Mt. Vernon, Washington, and consider touring by bike.
Lavender Festivals are still up and coming this year. The gorgeous purple flower comes in 39 varieties and countless uses. You will experience lavender in chocolate, tea, cotton candy, soap, sachets, oils for aroma therapy and massage, herbs, jewelry, candles, and insect repellents. Oh, and you can also plant it in your garden. The bees love it.
Outside of Provence, the best festivals I’ve seen are in Sequim, Washington and Oregon. The most exquisite gardens, it seems, are private, located at the residences of world leaders. Everyone knows about Versailles.
But the next time you travel abroad, see if the country’s leader opens his or her garden to visitors. This happens for sure in England, India and in Singapore, but the moment can be as fleeting as the annuals you will see. Check your guide book! And keep an eye on your spirited kids. Palaces have armed guards!