One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, Hortus Botanicus sits in the Plantage section of Amsterdam. The Palm, Butterfly and Three Climate Greenhouses contain a multitude of wonders. Enjoy!
If you have a bit of extra time over the holidays or on a weekend, here are 3 of the most delightful Bay Area Gardens that I’ve discovered this past year. They range in age from older than a century to practically new and in purpose from garden design and plant sales to a museum quality collection of species.
Flora Grub Gardens (started in 2004) in San Francisco is my most recent find. As a testament to the power of social media, I discovered this one through the Instagram feed of a work colleague (Thank you @kmctighe24!). A delightful sense of whimsy permeates the garden. If you happen to have a wreck on your lot, you can turn it into a planter!
Not only is this sense of whimsy on the ground, it is also in the air. The flying bicycles below have air plants or tillandsias tacked to the fenders and handlebars.
There are also areas of calming order like this patio set outside the coffee shop:
And things you might put in your garden all attractively displayed as if they belonged there.
This table looks like fun:
Flora Grubb carries a great range of succulents in many sizes and other types of plants as well.
More than the other gardens, Flora Grubb Gardens helps you see, “This is what a garden can look like in your home.” Check out her website for exquisite photographs of the site.
In contrast, Ruth Bancroft Gardens (started in 1972), focuses solely on a deep catalogue of succulents planted in a permanent garden punctuated by sculptures. Docents lead tours and if you have questions, volunteers are on hand to answer. There are volunteer plant sales so if you fall in love you can take one home if it’s available. I was so impressed with this garden when I visited that I wrote 3 entries:
Lastly, I had heard about the Arizona Cactus Garden (started in the early 1880s) at Stanford for ages before actually finding it earlier this year and writing about it. It too has a museum quality collection of succulents, many of which are very old and all are permanently planted. This place is definitely DIY. There is no help in engaging with the garden. There’s no gift store, there are no docents, there are no plant sales, there’s no call to action and nothing you can do with the passion the garden may invoke in you. Talk about a Marketing opportunity!
Whether you want help designing a garden or just want to wander in someone else’s, these 3 gardens will give you joy.
If you are a garden fan, (and I am) it is easy to spend 90 minutes even in 27C heat exploring the Heller Garden in Gardone Riviera on Lake Garda. If you are an art and garden fan it is easy to enjoy this garden for even longer.
Numbers painted in Venetian blue mark the spot for special plants. I was so charmed by the numbers that I forgot to look at the plants!
Narrow dirt and rock paths lead to a warren of semi-private spaces. There are surprises in every nook.
Round a turn and you might find a Rodin.
Or a Keith Haring
Or a new artist. I found works in a similar style sprinkled throughout the garden but no listing on the map. These stylized human forms were throwing themselves into life with every ounce of their being. You round a corner on a narrow path and one jumps up at you.
The scale varied but the energy and style of the form stayed constant.
I wanted to know whose work this was so when we left, I asked at the lady at the front desk. She opened a drawer, sorted through some things and pulled out the card of Mariano Fuga.
Fuga is a sculptor who lives and works around Lake Garda. His studio is just north of Gardone Riviera in Gargnano. His website includes some wonderful pictures of him working in the studio with clay that give insights into his process and how these lovely beings take shape. Sadly, I missed visiting his studio by not putting 2 and 2 together.
In case you are wondering how this marvelous garden came to be… While Italy abounds in gardens very few are like this one. It was created by Dr. Arturo Hruska, Austrian dentist to the last tsar, in 1901. Since 1988 Austrian artist Andrè Heller has owned it. Heller coincidentally was also “responsible for the presentation of the Germany bid for the 2006 FIFA World Cup project” (Wikipedia) Heller’s private home is on the grounds.
Next up: Scenes from Lake Garda Italy Part 3
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Orto Botanico or the Botanic Garden of Padova is just off busy plaza Prato Della Valle. Tucked away from busy roads even in 27C heat, here it is cool in the shade. It’s perfect for a jet-lag nod-off on one of the benches.
Focused on rare plants in the Veneto region of Italy, the garden dates from 1545 and is one of the oldest botanic gardens still in existence.
Orto Botanico is laid out in a circle divided into 4 pie slices centered around a lotus pond with fountain.
Eighteenth century stone hothouses flank one side of the garden.
The skylights in the stone roof lend a wistful air to the hothouses.
Inside, tender sprouts prepare for an outdoor life.
While the long buildings include one octagonal hothouse more than 3 stories high that protects a 350-year-old date palm, outside the flowers that I recognize don’t look that rare or that old. Artichokes, purple coneflower, a datura, a clematis are all familiar.
However, in the aquatic and carnivorous plants section I’m quickly out of my depth.
The history of things that were and are no more shows up in the architecture.
The things that are available now but were not in 1545 look out-of-place but covered in what looks like grime, they fit right in.
I started photographing the garden using HDR. However, I quickly switched to the Hipstamatic Diego (lens) and Robusta (film) because of the patina and border they added. The borders look like the stone edging that surrounds each plant even in the hothouses. The patina shifts emphasis away from a correct rendering of a beautiful flower to the age of the garden and its focus on plants of the past.
Next up: Scenes from Padova Italy, Part 2
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When I sang praises of the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, friends suggested that I check out the cactus garden at Stanford. Two attempts to find it and 3 different maps later, I can say it is fantastic!
Originally planted in the 1880’s this garden has some pre-historic looking specimens.
As you can tell from the angle of view this thing is over 12 feet tall. If Ansel Adams was here or someone who uses 1930s contact printers, it would look like this:
The garden has fantastical specimens I’ve never seen before:
And some I have but which are both much bigger and surrounded by others:
The garden is easily doable in 30 minutes and would reward a longer visit, one which I hope to make soon.
Apps used: PerfectlyClear, TitleFX, PhotoToaster, Shockmypic, Lomob, Impressions, Snapseed
Sculpture ran throughout the Ruth Bancroft Gardens. Some whimsical:
And some seriously playful:
Unfortunately, I did not write down the names of the artists involved but there is a list at the Garden if you go.
Sculpture is a great fit for a succulent garden because of the sculptural quality of the plants, both large:
Inspired by my visit, I assessed the few succulents that I have.
The spines of my trichocereus grandiflorus (I only knew that because it still had the tag) were full of leaves and dead oak flowers so I combed the long spines of my cactus (I kid you not). The spines not only radiated toward you but also horizontally toward each other. The only way to “comb” was to run straight down the middle of each row. The spines did not break at all and the plant looks much cleaner now but is definitely not photogenic. Nor is another unknown with red blossoms on a tall stem.
I made up for not being able to go to the plant sale by buying an aloe nobilis, an echeveria harmsii and a barrel cactus (more spines!) at my local Lowe’s.
Amazing how that brief one hour visit to the Ruth Bancroft Garden has given me hours of fun through photos and gardening! Thank you to Ruth and all the folks who run and manage the garden!
- Ruth Bancroft Garden Visit (jenniferhartnetthenderson.wordpress.com)
- More Ruth Bancroft Gardens (jenniferhartnetthenderson.wordpress.com)
Last weekend I visited the Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek, CA. Last post I shared a few of the photos I took of this amazing place, and there are more to edit. I found myself passing over the meta photos. Though they showed the beauty of the place accurately, I was more excited by others.
While a photo of one cactus flower is breathtaking, one way to add diversity and variety into the mix is by combining 4 different photos of cactus flowers together, placing the images so that they refer to one another:
I used the app ShockMyPic to add contrast and a feeling of drawing to this image. While the subtle pinks, greens and yellows are a delight, converting the image to black and white is another way to add interpret this series.
Snapseed made the switch easy to do.
Doing this experimentation made me think. Ansel Adams said you should judge a print by the negative. Make a good neg and you can make a good print. Now, the image capture is really just a jumping off point. From there you can take the image in so many directions, and many good versions. Not only that but if you make a good capture or a lousy one with today’s apps you can still create something amazing. The tools of photography have really changed what it can be about and changed operationally where you can invest time – while taking the photo and / or while editing it.