As always, the only thing linking the two items mentioned in this post in my mind is that they both start with the same letter of the alphabet.
Whether formal or informal, private or public — gardens and parks, to me, are sanctuaries of beauty, harmony, peace and serenity. As mentioned in another post, I love flowers; and I greatly admire the creative genius of landscape architects such as Peter Joseph Lenné, André Le Nôtre, Capability Brown, Gertrude Jekyll, and the multi-talented Vita Sackville-West.
Anybody who has ever traveled with me will tell you that it may be a good idea to think twice about agreeing to visit a garden en route, because I will likely not only want to spend an inordinate amount of time exploring it; I will also almost certainly take photos of its every angle (and almost its every blossom, or so it just might feel to you): not so much to document my visit as such (“Kilroy was here” / “been there, done that”), but, rather, to perpetuate the moment in their necessarily transient beauty when I visited. I wouldn’t want to shorten any flower’s already short life even further just so as to have a brief memento of my visit, but much in the spirit of “take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints,” I’m happy to see the beauty that enchanted me on the occasion of my visit live on in my photos.
This is true all the more as, much to my chagrin, I have no “green thumb” at all, even though my paternal grandfather was a professional gardener, my maternal grandfather held a doctorate in agronomy, and my father is an avid hobby gardener … proof positive that it’s not all in the genes all of the time. So there is, alas, no point in me trying to surround myself with actual, living flowers — and trust me, I did try more than once –; I necessarily have to fall back on taking photos of the creations nurtured by others … and on making my home in a building that has a garden of its own (seen to by professionals) or, at least, that is near a public garden where I can take walks or sit down on a bench or a blanket and enjoy a few moments of tranquility and peace whenever I want.
(All photos in this section of the post are mine.)
Gardens that I love (or have loved): the one of the building in which I live and other gardens in my neighborhood; flower shows (Cleopatra’s Garden exhibition at the Federal Arts Building [Bundeskunsthalle], Bonn, 2013 / Rhineland Regional Flower Show 2014 / National Flower Show, Koblenz, 2011 / Floriade 2012, Venlo, NL); Leverkusen Japanese Garden north of Cologne; Benrath Castle in Düsseldorf (a wedding photographer’s dream location); Charlottenburg Palace Gardens, Berlin; Putbus Palace Gardens on Rügen Island; Stourhead (Somerset, UK); Sissinghurst (Vita Sackville-West’s home in Kent); Powys Castle Gardens (Wales); the gardens of the Shakespeare houses in and near Stratford-upon-Avon (Henley Street / the knot garden at New Place in Chapel Street / Hall’s Croft / Anne Hathaway’s cottage and orchard); the gardens of the Loire castles of Amboise, Chenonceau and Villandry; as well as the Getty Center’s gardens and Huntington Library and Gardens (here: rose garden and Japanese garden) in the Greater Los Angeles area, California.
Straight off the vine, that is. As I mentioned before, I had a set-in-stone, “don’t ever even come near me with that stuff” list of dislikes as a kid: Grapes earned their place on it due to their sour taste (which, unlike in citrus fruits, isn’t set off by something excitingly tangy, but rather, just the dull kind of sour) and also by the fact that they felt like great unwieldy blobs inside my mouth — and when bit upon, sometimes proceeded to disgorge small, unpalatable seeds that I couldn’t spit out quickly enough. Somehow, I’ve never managed to overcome that childhood dislike.
I loved raisins, though (still do); but as it turns out, my aversion to the fresh fruit just may be telling in another way after all, because even though I like wine, I can’t actually drink a lot of it — like with many migraine sufferers, even comparatively small amounts of wine tends to give me headaches (and we’re talking quantities way too small to produce a hangover; sometimes half a glass or in extreme cases, even a single sip may be too much). This is a pity, as the village just south of Bonn where we were living when I was a kid is home to the Rhine Valley’s northernmost vineyards — actually, they are even West Germany‘s northernmost vineyards, though for the country as a whole, since reunification that thunder has been stolen just a bit by the Saale-Unstrut region in Saxony-Anhalt — and the local wine growers’ output easily measures up to the products from further down south (both in- and outside of Germany).
I’ve always loved taking a walk in those vineyards, however: most of them are on a hillside that is topped by a rest area where huge rocks have been placed near and around an open fireplace, stone circle style — when I was a kid, I also loved climbing onto those rocks.
(Photos mine / my mom’s.)