Category Archives: Travel

Lago Maggiore and Isola Bella

This is a great video of a beautiful garden I was able to visit a few years ago.  Isola Bella was and is a private home in Lago Maggiore of the lakes region of Italy.  This garden was begun over 700 years ago and is still in the same family today.  This is an extremely interesting place to garden due to the temperate micro climate that is produced from the incredibly high and steep Alps that surround them.  When I was there we could still see snow capped peaks in the middle of July while standing next to Palms.  It was amazing.  The main part in this video on the garden is towards the end but the whole thing is beautiful even if it is a little bit cheesy at times.  Enjoy

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Cumberland Island & Plant Envy



DSC_0237Sorry for the long delay in getting something posted.  We have been so busy moving that I haven’t had a chance to get anything up and then we had to take a week to get away for a little while.  We visited Cumberland Island off the coast of GA. which I have visited many times before.  It is an amazing mix of a nearly untouched natural island with a touch of antebellum and victorian architecture.  Some of these amazing homes have been restored while others have fallen into ruin.

As always when I travel to a different climate I get plant envy a wish I was gardening there or could at least transplant some of the enormous spanish moss covered Live Oaks to my neighborhood.  Thankfully there are always pictures to look back on.  Here are a few photos from the trip. DSC_0191

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Dumbarton Oaks


I had the great pleasure of visiting Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC this time last year.  For those of you possibly headed that way it is a must see.  The Federal style home was originally built in 1801 but began it’s transformation into it’s current state in the 1920’s.  During that time the home was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bliss.  They renovated the home extensively and worked with famed Landscape Architect Beatrix Farrand to transform the surrounding grounds into the stunning garden that it is now.

In 1940 the couple turned ownership over to Mr. Bliss’ alma mater Harvard.  Dumbarton Oaks is now in operation as a research library with a focus on Byzantine History, Landscape and Horticultural studies and Pre-Colombian History.  The gardens are open to the public, and well worth seeing.  I was particularlly interested in the use of Forsythia trailing over the sides of the brick wall and steps (1st picture).  In the second two photographs you can see the strength in using a well defined sight line.

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St. Kitts


I have just returned from meetings in St. Kitts. It is always amazing to see a new culture and how their history has impacted their society and culture of design. The plant material was prolific. The soil is extremely fertile and was taken advantage of for hundreds of years for the production of sugar cane (Saccharum). The sugar cane production had left the island but their are so many amazing plants taking advantage of the fertile soil. We saw countless Bouganvillea, Alamander, Hibiscus, and so many beautiful flowers and trees that would never thrive in our climate. One of my favorite was the Peacock Palm whose branches truly unfold like a peacock strutting with his feathers spread.Peacock Palm
I was particularly impressed with the abundance of stone work on both St. Kitts and Nevis. Due to the presence of the sugar cane industry there were many plantations throughout the islands. This caused the need for windmills to grind the cane and boilers to cook the molasses after it had been extracted from the cane.
The islands are covered with the remnants of both of these. We also saw one of the most amazing examples of stone work I’ve ever seen present in the British fortification Brimstone Hill. This fort was constructed over a period of a hundred years using incredibly skilled slave laborers to protect British interests from the French. I saw some of the tightest head joints in stone work that I have ever seen.
These trips are always nice to get away in the winter to a warmer climate; but are also the source of some of the greatest inspiration I come across. Never stop looking for new ideas and new inspiration.Smoke Stackdsc_0142

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