Last night it was below freezing here in Portland, and the high temperature today will be 45. Our winter is here, whether the calendar calls it that or not.
On dark cold days, I miss gardens. My mother was a gardener her whole life. After Dad died, she said caring for the garden everyday was her reason for getting out of bed. I gardened for years, and was afraid I would miss it when we moved into our townhouse. I haven’t, though. Well, maybe, sometimes.
When we travel, we always visit the public gardens. Not just beds of flowers, the lay-out says a lot about the esthetic of the people who created them.
Victoria, B.C.’s Butchart Gardens were built in 1909, by Jennie Butchart, the wife of a Portland Cement millionaire. She hated the ugliness his quarries left behind, and spent years developing different styles of gardens to fill them up with beauty.
Gardens in front of Buckingham Palace show glory and power. This happens a lot in Europe, where kings needed to impress other kings.
Versailles’s gardens were built by France’s Louis 16th to impress his courtiers with the infinite power of the monarchy, to keep them in line. As it turned out, his courtiers weren’t who he needed to be worried about.
The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris were built by Catherine Medici on the grounds of her private estate. They are now what Grandpa Nelson calls “The Best Park in the World”, full of flowers, lawns, and statues, but also cafes, marionette shows and pony rides in summer.
I will tell you about sharing my love of gardens tomorrow.