Thoughts on Garden Travel

Thoughts on Garden Travel

I was busy weeding a client’s garden bed during the week when I felt a gentle breeze blow across my face and I was showered with pale pink papery petals. I stopped for a second and looked up into the canopy of a Prunus “Nigra” (Ornamental Black Cherry Plum) that was growing in the lawn next to where I was weeding. Oh my! What a sight it was from that angle. This particular tree is one I always admire every August when the blossoms break bloom and the bare twiggy branches are smothered in small delicate pink flowers.                                 

As I looked up into the umbrella of blooms I was reminded of the time I sat in a similar position under a flowering Cherry (Prunus “Kanzan”) in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  It was late April 2006, I was on holidays visiting dear friends who lived in New York City. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens annual Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom) festival just happened to be open that week I was there. The avenues of flowering Cherry Blossom (Prunus “Kanzan”) Trees were a sight to be seen. After wandering through the avenue plantings, admiring them all, I picked one and took a seat on the grass underneath its canopy, using its trunk as a back rest. I sat there for an hour or so taking in the beauty of the trees, their flowers, the tiny petals floating through the air like snowflakes. Every time the breeze blew, a flock of petals would fall off the tree in a mass like a flurry of snowflakes. I loved watching the patterns they made as they twisted, turned and somersaulted their way to the ground.

My Client's Prunus "Nigra"
The view up into the canopy of my client's tree
A close up of the Prunus "Kanzan" Flowers in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

I also enjoyed seeing the visitors to the gardens taking so much joy from these flowering trees. It is such a fond memory of being on holidays when you don’t have any time commitments or responsibilities.  Like so many plant people I have had the pleasure of visiting gardens, plant collections and iconic plant species growing in their indigenous habitats.  Now with the current restrictions I find myself wondering if and when we will be able to travel again and what travel will actually look like.  Travel is not just visiting a destination, it is the interactions you have with the people, the experience of a different culture, enjoying the local cuisine and of course if you’re a plant person like me the highlight is observing the local vegetation, visiting exotic gardens and learning about new plants that you may not be able to grow in your own garden.

As I continued to weed the garden at my client’s house with the blossoms raining down on me it made me think how much pleasure I get from travelling as a plant person.  I started trying to work out ways I could recapture that experience and sense of place in my own garden. One thought I had was to think of some of those plants you see on your travel journeys – it might be one species or it might be a combination of plants. I could start planting out some of these species to remind me of a place or country I visited or a particular moment I had within a garden.  Do you do this in your garden? Do you have an experience of a garden destination you would like to replicate?

I guess this is much like trying to emulate a particular meal you had in a foreign location or cooking a particular type of cuisine.

At the moment whilst travel is almost impossible here in Australia I think I will be seeking some inspiration and reliving some of my botanical wanderings.  Stay tuned as I think my first planting will be a wild meadow planting similar to what I have experienced in the fields of England’s Cotswolds region.

Have you got a garden experience from your travels either here in Australia or overseas you would like to share?  I would love to hear about them.

Armchair travel is a good way to get inspiration for your next trip.

Would you like me to share some of my pilgrimages to the great gardens of the world or the collections of plant species I have visited or other gardens I have discovered

One of the avenue plantings of the Prunus "Kanzan" (Flowering Cherry Blossoms) in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Glenice Buck