Monday, January 1, 2018

A year that will linger...

Novato, California, Saturday, ‎January ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎60812 PM
 My idea of an ideal winter is an escape to the Southern Hemisphere--or at least California!--which we managed this year. My partner Jan is following the footsteps of Saxon Holt, our host for a fabulous dinner and a hike on the hill behind his house he's immortalized in so many pictures. Saxon came to visit in September when he spoke at the Bonfils-Stanton lecture series at DBG.

Cardamine california
 On the same hike we found the native Lady's Smock blooming--in January!

Quarryhill Botanical Garden, Friday, January 27, 2017 824 AM
 We spent a few wonderful days at our of our favorite retreats. I never dreamed last January that the hill I was photographing, and thousands more acres in Sonoma and Napa Counties would burn this fall--fortunately, the botanic garden escaped (thanks to thorough watering systems) although the fires came right to the boundary.

San Bernadino Mountains, Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎94625 AM
 From the Bay Area I flew to California where I spent almost two weeks speaking to eight chapters of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America and the San Diego Garden Club. The motel I kicked the trip off at had a pretty wonderful view of the snow dusted San Bernadinos--which likewise experienced extensive chaparral fires...all perhaps a result of the unusually wet winter last year in California.

Bruce Hargreaves on the right and me
 Of course, seeing nature, gardens and plants is my M.O.--but I love meeting new people. I'd first read Bruce's papers on South African succulents possibly 40 years ago when he was botanist in Lesotho. He subsequently went to Zimbabwe for many years, and has ended up in Bakersfield where he and his wife hosted me on a wonderful evening when I was there for a talk: meeting people you've known about for decades and yearned to know is a great joy!

Los Angeles Botanical Garden
 Thanks to a number of friends landing here, the LA botanical garden and Arboretum has become a home away from home. I never tire of the peacocks there--and even the staff has resigned themselves to these noisy creatures who can wreak havoc with plantings--they now have a Festival in their honor!

Gary Duke
The Southern California clubs have a wonderful network for visiting speakers, and Gary (who's on the board of CSSA) is a kingpin: his incredible garden in Long Beach had thousands of succulents--one of the finest collections of cacti in private hands, and his capacious home provided a wonderful base for several days explorations. He and his companion Jade Neely visited us in September when they spoke to CCSS: hard to believe we never knew each other a year ago!

Denver Civic Center, Thursday, March 23, 2017 1012 AM
 The pears and crabapples were in full bloom by the middle of March in downtown Denver. Early magnolias managed to bloom spectacularly around town: it was an incredibly benign spring--until, of course, the killing frost in early April put a summary end to things. We didn't get a single fruit on any tree at our home or the gardens. Classic Colorado weather!

Kendrick Lake Park Saturday, March 11, 2017
 This was an incredible spring for bulbs: here the Iris reticulata 'Harmony' has formed huge clumps at Kendrick--where no new plants have been planted through most of the garden for six years...In my home garden, I had a wonderful parade of winter iris starting in early February I describe in another blog.

Cooper garden parterres, April 15, 2017 8:06 AM
A tiny taste of the remarkable garden of our first hosts in Britain--the Coopers guest room looked out on views like this: the garden contained thousands of kinds of plants in borders, rock gardens, alpine houses, an enormous cactus greenhouse, Mediterranean house: we took hundreds of pictures--perhaps the most spectacular private garden we've ever seen (and that's saying a lot). Can you imagine being imprisoned here for four days? Sheer bliss~

During that time I spoke at the Sutton Valence Alpine Garden Society Kent Club Show: the entries to an alpine show in Britain are to die for! This is just one of hundreds of gems there...

Rock garden at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Saturday, April 22, 20171 1:44 PM
 And of course, we had to visit  a few Gardens: Kew, Wisley, Savill, Ilford Manor, Heale House, Univeristy of Bristol botanic garden--and private gardens too many to mention!

Alys Cambray and me
 Always a treat to meet people, like Alys, who I befriended on Facebook--where I love to follow her posts: she has a delightful private garden, and also gardens at some grand estates we didn't have a chance to visit (THIS time), although she took us exploring around the Salisbury Plain. 

Prague Alpine Garden club garden, Tuesday, May 9, 2017
 A few weeks later, I returned to Europe, this time to the Czech Republic, where I was a speaker at the 3td Czech Rock Garden conference at Pruhonice. Three days of talks and bus tours to visit no end of fantastic private gardens were bracketed by several days on my own, exploring a bit of Prague with friends. This was a trip I've been dreaming of for decades! And it exceeded my fondest hopes.

Zdnek Zvolanek and me
Zdenek was the "master' of the conference: it was he and Vojtech Holubec who invited me to speak. Zdenek's fantastic garden is featured elsewhere on my blog: he was one of the handful of artists who developed the Czech rock garden style to become the cutting edge expression of the art. We've been friends since the 1970's--so seeing his garden was a highlight not of this year, but of my whole life!

Olga Bondareva (Ольга Бондарева.) in the garden of Vojtech Holubec
 In addition to meeting with dear friends like Zdenek, I made new ones: Olga is a botanist in Moscow who gave a fantastic presentation on plants of the Caucasus, which I hope I may be seeing in a few weeks!

Calder Sculpture at Denver Botanic Gardens, Friday, June 23, 2017 244 PM
 Of course, coming back to Denver Botanic Gardens is always a thrill. This year was so spectacular (with an amazing exhibit of Alexander Sculpture exhibits) that visitation is expected to exceed our highest ever--well in excess of one and a half million visitors!

View of Absoroka Mts. from Cody Saturday, June 17, 2017 2:08 PM
 I was lucky to help lead two trips to Northwestern Wyoming, this one for the North American Rock Garden Society: here is a small part of the group on the trip--including several of my Colorado Co-horts...

Beartooth Pass Tuesday, July 18, 2017 1:11 PM
 I was lucky enough to return with the Ratzeputz gang--leading horticulturists from Europe and America who were attending the Perennial Plant Association's conference in Denver. Here we all marvelled at a large herd of mountain goats who thoughtfully posed beneath the Beartooth Mountain which gave its name to the pass and the mountains.

Gideon Smith and Estrela Fereyra, Thursday, August 10, 2017 2:40 PM
 We had many visitors, like Gideon Smith from Pretoria and Estrela from Portugal--both leading authorities on Succulent Plants who have authored many books.

Quince garden in late summer August 20, 2017 531 AM
 My home garden continues to be a haven and an inspiration--even in the dog days of summer!

Red admirals on Eupatorium at Peter Korn's garden, Tuesday, September 12, 2017 1 53 PM
 September saw me back in Europe, this time in Sweden where I spoke at an Urban Horticultural conference in Lund. One of the side trips there was to Gothenberg: nearby we spent a day at Peter Korns amazing garden near Landvetter I'd only seen in April: it was glorious in early autumn as well! I must blog about it!

Tivoli Wednesday, September 6, 2017 5 02 PM
 En r/Route to Sweden I couldn't resist spending a few days in Copenhagen--one of my favorite cities. Although I'd been there many times, I'd never visited Tivoli: I'm glad I did--it's amazing! I blogged about it as well...

Elvin McDonald Saturday, September 30, 2017 723 AM
 One of the MANY highlights of a quick trip to Iowa in late September was running into Elvin McDonald--one of America's most prolific and talented horticultural writers! I had very little time to talk: besides which, he was busy volunteering at Des Moines Botanic Gardens bright and early on a Saturday morning!

Des Moines from the parterre at the Greater Des Moines Botanic Garden

 This garden has gone from strength to strength: I always love to return the the hearland of American agronomy and gardening...

Magowan garden in Santa Fe (Thursday, October 26, 2017 )
In October an old friend, Mark McDonough, came to Denver for a lecture tour--and we accompanied him to Santa Fe (where I love to visit every autumn). Visiting the Magowan garden is always a treat!

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix on Sunday, November 19, 2017 349 PM
 In mid November I attended the annual meeting of the North American Rock Garden society in North Carolina, which I had to leave early to speak to the Phoenis cactus club. While I was in Phoenix I of course had to wander through the garden. This sculptural display was something one couldn't easily ignore...

Sunset at Palos Verdes on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 552 PM

December was a real vacation, in Southern California for a week. Watching the sun set in the Pacific should be a fitting end to my year, but Jan insists it's too depressing, so I am finishing with a more cheerful image...

Me on Mt. Southey takn Tuesday, November 1, 2016 8:17 PM
Hard to believe I was in New Zealand not much more than a year ago, and will be headed back in less than a week: the coming year is promising to be even more action packed and travel-filled than this past year! I am comforted to think that compared to Karl Gercens, Conservatory Superintendent at Longwood, I'm a stick in the mud amateur traveler! No matter, I love being at home every bit as much if you can believe me...


  1. Dear Panayoti, thank you for your consistently delightful inspirations. Look forward to whatever you may share next! Blessings to you & yours this New Year!

  2. Great to a part of your travels, and ever Onward, eyes open to new plants, new people, new books, new visions


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