Gardens are everywhere in the world. We have been to Kew, Abkhazi, and Lystigardurinn, the world’s most northerly garden, during our travels. Because of Ruth’s interest in plants, going to gardens has always been part of our itinerary. Pursuing this interest is often cultural. You find fine gardens in Great Britain and any country that it has influenced, like Canada. Visiting gardens is also a must in some Asian cultures like Japan and China. Almost every temple we visited in either place had a garden attached. The only bamboo forest /garden I have ever seen was in Kyoto.
When Ruth is at home, she is usually gardening, We have a minuscule backyard and larger front yard, and Ruth has turned both into masterpieces. Because we live in an area that gets lots of rain and has mild winters, she gets to garden almost year round. Almost every day I look out to see her talking to a walking neighbor who has stopped to compliment her gardening skills. Ruth get perturbed only when someone picks her flowers. Lately her dahlias have caused temptation.
I am an ex plant person. When we lived in St Louis, we got into roses despite the fact that the Midwest US’ climate is not well suited to growing them. We took a class at St. Louis’ fantastic and famous botanical garden to get started. Roses bloom in only 2 bursts in the spring and the fall where you have hot summers. The botanical garden rose growers seem to get some roses to bloom during the summer, but we were less successful. They even maintain a test garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden to show some new varieties. After our rose debacle, I got to admire the experts’ efforts, an activity which I considered irrational, and we often took visitors there. One year we had a blight and all of our rose bushes got it. All 50 of them died, and I swore off on growing things that are just beautiful. I won’t even get involved in growing stuff that can be eaten. My job is to photograph flowers, not grow them.
One of our visitors who really enjoyed the Missouri Botanical Garden was our Australian friend Lynette. Because Great Britain heavily influenced Australia, Lynette is a plant person. Ruth sometimes calls her “Mother Australia” because Lynette can name every Australian plant she sees and has always gardened. She and Ruth regularly discuss plants. We have seen native plants like swainsona formosa or Sturt’s Desert Pea growing in the Outback, lots of wattle, Australia’s national plant, all over, even roses and dahlias in temperate areas.
We did not move to Washington so that Ruth could grow better roses and other plants she could not grow in the humid Midwest, but it has proven true nevertheless. Portland across the river from us is famous for its rose garden and its lesser known Japanese and Chinese gardens. Visitors love to go to all 3, and I have learned that real Japanese gardens are of 3 varieties–gardens there and Japanese gardens elsewhere are hilly or dry, or they serve tea in a ceremony. Being authentic and planned by Japanese experts, the Japanese Garden in Portland has all 3 types but limited bamboo.