The Garden Path

Parterres edged with hedges. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

Hands down, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile wins as the city’s most visitor-trod street. And well it should be. To walk its length is to follow in the footsteps — most likely the carriage rumblings — of the kings and queens who for five centuries made the journey between the formidable castle-fortress that dominates the Old Town skyline to Holyrood Palace.

Since the 16th century, Holyrood has served as the Scots’ official royal residence. Today, Queen...

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The “Italianette-style” addition at the entrance to the garden. Photo courtesy of Tresco Abbey Garden

In the early-morning light of May 2018, Grand Circle Cruise Line’s M/V Corinthian dropped anchor off Tresco in the Isles of Scilly archipelago. (See my article “Maritime Jewels — Cruising the British Isles & Ireland” in the October 2018 issue.)

Once the landing platform was launched, the ship’s tender sped off toward Tresco on a mission to fetch Mike Nelhams, curator of the island’s near-subtropical Abbey Garden that we’d come to...

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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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