Grand Cayman’s QEII Botanic Park

A few days ago I was on Grand Cayman Island, on my way to Panama for the Heliconia Society International Conference and my daughter took me to visit this garden. It is just beautiful, a credit to the Caymanese. It has been established for many years, and is also a refuge for the native blue iguana. Continue reading “Grand Cayman’s QEII Botanic Park”

Costa Rican gardens

Part of my trip to Central and South America a few weeks ago involved a quick trip to Costa Rica. We (a group who were attending the Heliconia Society International conference, being held in Panama) were to visit the OTS Wilson Botanic Garden, which was established some fifty years ago on a small piece of land in the extreme south of Costa Rica, close to the Panamanian border. Continue reading “Costa Rican gardens”

Roberto Burle Marx’s private Sitio

Roberto Burle Marx single-handedly changed the face of tropical garden design while introducing to the world a host of amazing indigenous Brazilian plants hitherto ignored by Brazilians. In the process became an international figure. It’s intriguing to delve into his soul as an artist and plantsman to find out why his impact was so gargantuan. Continue reading “Roberto Burle Marx’s private Sitio”

Burle Marx’s other gardens

Many of the gardens designed by Burle Marx have been demolished or languish under neglect but many are lovingly maintained. A few we can visit quite easily, more though are hard to see unless on an organised tour. Of the four I mention here, only the first is freely open to the public.

[See also the comprehensive Garden Travel Guide to Brazil] Continue reading “Burle Marx’s other gardens”

Juan Grimm in harmony with nature

Everyone responds to the gardens of Juan Grimm – leading South American designer – and I often wonder at their beauty and the reasons for their success. It is in his plantings and landscaping that we see how he harmonises with nature. In the garden at Melipilla, about an hour south of Santiago in Chile, he has created layers of horizontal planes, which echo the natural landscape and culminate in the house which in this picture, is barely visible within the landscape. Continue reading “Juan Grimm in harmony with nature”

Patagonian paradise

We recently returned from an eight-week odyssey to South America – it was one of those ‘bucket list’ things that had been gestating for quite a while. Once the ‘retired’ flag went up, we were off. It’s a sign of satisfaction putting that ‘R’ word in occupation on immigration forms! Concentrating mainly on the west coast, we travelled from Cusco/Machu Picchu as far south as Cape Horn – and this is where the exquisite little plants come in to the story. Continue reading “Patagonian paradise”

A South American plant curiosity

Whilst travelling in South America, we came across this intriguing plant by the name of Llareta – the Spanish name for the Yareta – Azorella compacta. It was highly conspicuous on the rocky and seemingly infertile mountainsides in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Only growing at high altitudes between 3200 m and 4500 m., the plants are in some cases reputed to be as much as 3000 years old! Continue reading “A South American plant curiosity”

Gardens & volcanoes in Costa Rica

It’s been a very, very wet and grey winter in the UK and we felt the need for some warmth and light, so in the first half of February we stole a couple of weeks in Costa Rica, in Central America. It is a country I have always wanted to visit, not just for its spectacular landscapes and wildlife, but because it has managed to buck the political trend that prevails in most of that part of the world: it abolished its army in 1949, Continue reading “Gardens & volcanoes in Costa Rica”

Garden travel to broaden your mind

I am about to jump on a plane and head off to France to lead a tour of gardens and châteaux of Normandy and the Loire Valley and if you haven’t booked it’s a bit late now! But the idea of travelling across the world to see gardens and gardening that I may well have little hope of emulating started me thinking. Is it just horticultural eye candy or is there more to it than that? Continue reading “Garden travel to broaden your mind”

Wonder, delight & mystery: Australian Landscape Conference in review

The 2015 Australian Landscape Conference – held in Melbourne in late September – was a memorable two-day session. More than 600 local and international attendees followed the thought-provoking input of landscape designers drawn from overseas and Australia. Continue reading “Wonder, delight & mystery: Australian Landscape Conference in review”

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!

Continue reading “Cloud forests and other wonders of Peru”