The Garden Path

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....

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Visitors strolling through the glasshouse in Orto Botanico, Sicily, Italy. Photo by Yvonne Michie Horn

This is the third in a series of three articles on gardens in Sicily. I visited the island at the bottom of Italy’s boot in June 2016. (See part one, Nov. ’16, pg 51, and part two, Jan. ’17, pg. 51, as well as the Feature Article, Oct. ’16, pg. 18.)  — YMH 

Palermo’s Orto Botanico

(Part 3 of 3 on Sicily)

It was but a 10-minute straight-shot walk on a street that managed to change its name three times between Hotel Porta...

With a Victorian folly in the background, this pond is centered with a tropical plant in the garden Hallington Siculo — Taormina, Sicily. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

This is the second in a series of three articles on gardens in Sicily. I visited the island at the bottom of Italy’s boot in June 2016. (See part one, Nov. ’16, pg 51, as well as the Feature Article, Oct. ’16, pg. 32.)  — YMH 

Florence Trevelyan’s legacy in Taormina

(Part 2 of 3 on Sicily)

Before traveling, I spend hours searching on the Internet and leafing through guidebooks and gardening books trying to match my itinerary with a...