Sunday, January 1, 2012

Armchair Gardening

I'm feeling only half guilty about doing a little armchair gardening when it's so nice outside. The sun is pouring into my south and west-facing windows so I am taking advantage of it...just not fully outside in the thick of it.

I had to finish Monty Don's Extraordinary Gardens of the World today--or face an overdue charge! This is the companion book to his BBC series Around the World in 80 Gardens. I feel like I had a mini vacation in just a couple of hours of pouring over these great places. Plus, he has a great voice throughout his descriptions. Each garden's unique characteristics come through without getting tired at the end.

I have been lucky enough to visit a handful of the gardens featured in his book: the Huntington Botanical Garden, The City in a Garden in Singapore, Pura Taman Ayun in Bali, and most recently, The Majorelle Gardens in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The gardens in India seem especially amazing. One in particular called The Rock Garden started as someone's hobby and built illegally has evolved into a landscape of mosaic sculptures. And if I ever do get to India, I hope it's during the February flower show so I can see The Old Railway Garden which is on an old railway and described an idea of colonialism as most of the garden staff have never been to Britain. They are only open to the public during the flower show and are known to have won the contest several times.

I appreciated a chapter on edible gardens from Vivero Organoponico Alamar in Havana, Cuba to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia. I'm hoping soon I'll be on the East Coast and be close enough to make a stop at Monticello. I would also like to make another visit to Singapore and see Wilson Wong's community garden. This opened in 2006, a year after I was there. He has started a forum about gardening in Singapore and beyond.

Oh, and this is when seed catalogs start arriving en force. More armchair gardening and planning to come!

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