Gardens: The Bucket List

There is something peaceful about a garden, whether a tiny niche in the heart of an ancient city or a sprawling display of botanical wonders. Discover top-notch gardens and arboretums to add to your bucket list.

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Visiting Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

As I approached the magnificent building from the west, a banner above the entrance door announced the forthcoming Victorian Hot Rod Association’s 50th anniversary show. The banner looked glaringly incongruous. Yet it emphasised the fact that here Read More

Daytime Christmas scenery at the Opryland (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Spending Christmas at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee

Streams of lights fall like incandescent snowflakes, characters of children’s books and cartoons hang from small-scale hot-air balloons and parachutes. Only Santa can bring more excitement at the Opryland Hotel! You might not deck your halls Read More

Halloween-style jail in the Joan of Arc Garden in Québec City (Photo: MCArnott)

Hounding Halloween Ghosts in Québec City, Canada

A giant spider crawls on the side of an office building. A sailing ship has run aground in front of Québec City Hall. Halloween decorations set the tone for our family visit to Québec City, with grandchildren in tow. Ships have a lot to do with Read More

Blarney Castle

Kissing the Blarney Stone

As the long line of tourists - us included - crept through the ruins of Blarney Castle, I kept shaking my head. Kissing the Blarney Stone has never been on my radar, yet here I am, being herded through the maze of unkempt rooms and twisty narrow Read More

Ethel M's Botanical Cactus Garden

Eating Chocolates in Ethel M’s Botanical Cactus Garden in Henderson, Nevada

Chocolate might go with almost anything: Wine, fruit, ice cream, coffee -- but cactus? Yet here I am, standing among the cacti eating gourmet chocolates at the botanical garden at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson, Nevada. An old hollowed Read More

Monticello

Walking in Thomas Jefferson’s Footsteps at Monticello

The piercing ring of metal striking metal mingles with the sizzling fumes of a roaring forge. On Mulberry Row, a worker pounds smelted ore into nails – a mainstay of life at Monticello, circa 1790. Nearby, two men shape softened wood into strips for Read More

The orange trees of Cordoba's Alcazar

Walking Beside the Orange Trees at Córdoba’s Alcazar

The gardens of Córdoba’s Alcazar may be smaller than those of rival palaces in Seville and Granada, but they are still impressive. Even in the rain. I had walked through Córdoba’s UNESCO listed historic centre, from the magnificent La Mezquita and Read More

Azaleas in bloom at Maclay Gardens

Chasing Camellias at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Tallahassee

Three camellias. The blossoms sat in a silver dish in the parlor near the door of the Maclay House. I'd seen them there on several different visits to the manor home, always freshly picked, always a trio. I asked the docent why. "It was Mrs. Read More

Camellia Garden, Dorothy B. Oven Park

Seeking Spring Blooms at Dorothy B. Oven Park in Tallahassee

Walking beneath ancient live oaks downhill from the manor home, I spotted the bright blossoms from quite a distance. "I bet those are flame azaleas!" One of the showiest of native azaleas in the Southeast, Florida flame azalea stands out in spring Read More

Goodwood

Touring Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida

Amid the relaxed grandeur of a Southern plantation, it was the daffodils that caught our attention. In such a formal space, atop one of Tallahassee's highest hills, an estate dating back to the 1830s, you'd expect to greet daffodils in neat formal Read More

Plants in the tropics grow large and fast. /

Wandering Tropical Trails at the Belize Botanical Garden

I have no way to know what the Garden of Eden looked like, but in my imagination, it looks just this: Palms and ferns grow exuberantly, birds dot in and out of the foliage, and everywhere there is green -- blue green, bright green, yellow green, dull Read More

Ficus Pumilia (Creeping Fig) at Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como.

Boating to Villa del Balbianello’s Garden on Lake Como

  I am sitting on a taxi-boat instead of walking through a trail from the Lenno dock to Villa del Balbianello on the wooded promontory. The trail is closed on Mondays. Things must happen for a reason because glimpsing the villa through Read More

Geyser Lake at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum

Tracing Monuments of History at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio

I slow to a stroll along the two-lane road, which passes under a railroad trestle bridge then takes a gentle angle upward. Gazing at the tops of trees took precedent after all; I am impressed by the towering specimens’ ability to block out the blue Read More

Blenheim Palace, England

Following in the Steps of Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace, England

The first thing I notice when we turn into the grand drive of Blenheim Palace is a woman (or should I say a lady?) in a flowery dress and a big hat. A moment’s panic, while I wonder if I am suitably dressed for such august surroundings, but I relax Read More

La Posada Hotel Has its Own Food and Ornamental Gardens (courtesy Chuck Eirschele)

Visiting the Gardens at La Posada Hotel and the Turquoise Room in Winslow, Arizona

We have stopped to eat lunch at The Turquoise Room, a restaurant attached to the La Posada, a hotel in Winslow, Arizona. When I arrived at our table, my husband and my cousin were already digging into bowls of The Signature Soup of chef and owner Read More

Malta's Palazzo Parisio

Following the Footsteps of the Knights of St. John into Palazzo Parisio’s Gardens in Malta

"You can't miss Palazzo Parisio", I was told. "Just look kitty-corner from the bus stop on Naxxar’s main square and there it will be." But somehow I was missing it. Yes, there was the parish church just as described, grandiose as a cathedral, but Read More

Flowers in February at Kew Gardens (photo credit: Jill Browne)

Smelling the Flowers at Kew Gardens, London, England

I’m looking at hundreds, possibly thousands, of orchid blossoms in one of the world’s absolute best plant places: Kew Gardens, London. The waxy lustre of the extravagant petals gives the deceptive impression that these plants are indestructible. Read More