The Garden Path

View of the pond in the Wallenstein Gardens — Prague. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

I've long thought that the best city transportation is a pair of comfortable shoes. That was certainly true of Prague, a most walkable city, allowing me to hotfoot it through its historic Old Town Square, pushing my way through pretzel hawkers and throngs following umbrella-toting tour guides and past bike bars pedal-powered by beer guzzlers. I was on my way this May 2018 day to a Prague of serenity, the Gardens below Prague Castle.

Wallenstein Gardens

As I crossed...

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Narrow paths connect “rooms” in the Inner Garden, this one dedicated to foliage in shades of green.

There are two "must dos" when visiting southwestern Wales' St. David's Head: a tour through the magnificent cathedral from which the peninsula gets its name, and walking a stretch of the pathway that echoes Pembrokeshire's dazzlingly gorgeous coastline. To those, I added a third on a late-May 2018 day: a visit to Sue Clark's Crystal Garden.

"What a glorious time of year for the garden!" Sue Clark exclaimed as she led the way to a picnic...

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Children passing by the shrine that remains of the monastery — Borromeo Garden, Brno, Czechia. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

Think Czech Republic (Czechia) and Prague springs to mind, everyone's mind, as elbow-to-elbow encounters in the city's picturesque Old Town attest. Mention Brno and the reaction is likely to be a scratching of the head. Brno definitely does not spring to mind.

It should. Brno, the Czech Republic's second-largest city (pop. 400,000), is but a 2-hour high-speed train ride from central Prague. Wander Brno's hilly streets and you'll hear nothing but Czech spoken....

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The Embankment Café is a casual place to take a break in London. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Old War Office: London’s concentrated wealth of “must visits” can be an exciting yet exhausting, traffic-noisy, people-packed sightseeing experience.

Time out. A series of three gardens — expanses of immaculately kept lawns and flower beds, ponds, shrubs, towering trees and wandering paths with...

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Kylemore Abbey’s pleasure garden, with the head gardener’s cottage in the background. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

The baronial-style castle, known today as Kylemore Abbey, was mirror-imaged in Lough Pollacappul this September 2017 day. Clouds scudding across Connemara’s gray-blue skies wound their way in and around the grand edifice’s shimmering reflection. 

The castle’s setting against a wooded mountainside at the edge of the lake was breathtaking. Who could look at it and not wonder, ‘What’s it like inside?’

Regularly scheduled tours offer...

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Basket swings in the children’s glade of the Imbolc garden. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

Brigit’s Garden in County Galway, Ireland

In 1997, Jenny Beale woke one morning with a concept for a garden full blown in her mind. Grabbing pencil and paper, she quickly described in two paragraphs what had popped into her head.

“Those two paragraphs continue to accurately describe the garden as you see it today,” Beale told me in September 2017 over a cup of tea in the café in the visitors’ center of the dream-turned-reality garden.

Creating the...

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The exterior of The Garden Museum, which is housed in a deconsecrated London church, with the “floating” café in the distance. Photo by Andrew Burton, The Garden Museum

A number of years back, in London, I visited the Museum of Garden History, as it was then called, and spent a happy hour immersed in old gardening tools, artifacts, drawings, photographs and paintings. 

During that early visit to the museum, located in the ancient and deconsecrated church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, across the Thames from Big Ben and right next door to Lambeth Palace, I was charmed by the displays but fell in love with the courtyard’s knot garden, which...

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Zura Shev­ardnadze, the owner of Gardenia in Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo by Yvonne Michie Horn

My taxi awaited below the tall column topped with the gilded statue of St. George slaying the dragon in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square. 

Freedom Square is how it is known today. Before St. George towered over the square following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was known as Lenin Square, with Lenin holding forth as its centerpiece. Before that, Theatre Square, as it was the site of the city’s first opera house. Before that, and as laid out by czarist...

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