Cloud forests and other wonders of Peru

Escaping from Sydney a few days before New Year’s Eve, a motley group of friends and family headed to South America for a month of adventuring. First Peru and Machu Picchu, then cycling in Cuba for 2 weeks, followed by 10 days sailing the Galapagos. A triple bucket-list trip!

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Classical gardens and contemporary art in China

Western thinking on garden history tends to be almost unconsciously European in focus – we might evoke the eighteenth century, and think of ha-has and arboreta, or perhaps a Renaissance Italian stroll garden, ornamented with classical statuary. But when mediaeval apothecaries were busy enclosing medicinal herbs in box compartments, one of our greatest cultures was quite literally moving mountains. In China, where the most exciting contemporary art is also to be found, gardens and art have been inextricably linked for almost two thousand years. Continue reading

Ninfa – is it worth all the superlatives?

It was at a meeting of heritage rose lovers that I first heard about Ninfa, a romantic, rambling, Italian garden built in the ruins of a medieval town. People spoke of it in reverential terms and my interest was piqued by their idyllic description – old roses and vines cascading from ruined towers and trees, scrambling along crumbling archways and overhanging crystal clear streams. Continue reading

Amsterdam’s secret: an enchanted forest and gardens

For a lifelong cyclist Amsterdam is heaven – once you get your bearings that is.  That skew-whiff grid of canals is totally bamboozling at first. The initial 24 hours completely did my head in. Utterly lost. Embarrassing for someone who prides himself on being able to find his way around. Since then however, the cycling has been sublime. Continue reading

A first botanic garden for Laos: enchanting Pha Tad Ke

Starting a new garden from the ground up is daunting even for an experienced gardener in a familiar environment, but imagine being a non-gardener, in a foreign country, on unknown terrain in a totally different climate and contemplating the creation of a 14 hectare botanical garden showcasing the indigenous plants of a country where botany is little studied and new species are still being discovered. Continue reading

Meet the Dutch Wave designers

As a professional garden designer who enjoys a second life as a host of European garden tours, I always wonder how I can best prepare tour participants for the wonders they’re going to see. And when the tour is over, I want to make sure they remember the plants, the landscapes, and especially the designers who created them. Continue reading

Having fun in a GIANT’S garden

I am now living most of the year in New Zealand, and I must be honest immigrating to a new country on the opposite side of the globe is not as easy as one would think. Everyday things are done in quite a different manner, and adapting to the new culture and learning about the do’s and don’ts takes a lot out of a person. Continue reading

A small piece of Australia at California’s Taft-Ojai Gardens

On a trip to California earlier this year I had the good fortune to meet a very interesting Australian expatriate plant lover and horticulturist called Jo O’Connell. She has established an excellent niche nursery called Australian Native Plants at Casitas Springs near Santa Barbara, in order to grow a range of Australian plants. These are currently in hot demand as a result of the severe drought in California. Continue reading