The Garden Path

France’s Loire Valley is known as the “Garden of France,” to which those who have admired the landscaping surrounding its fabulous châteaux would readily agree. This month’s “Garden Path” column, however, along with three articles to follow (every other month), wanders off the well-trod châteaux route on a discovery tour to four unique gardens of the Loire. Here is the first in the series. — YMH

 

Perhaps I wasn’t on the...

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It is not the most northerly botanic garden in the world but one of the most northerly gardens, sharing that distinction with those hardy plants shivering on the edge of the Arctic in Norway and Russia.

No matter! When I learned of the existence of Lystigarður Akureyrar, a botanic garden located in the far-northern reaches of Iceland in the town of Akureyri, I looked forward to wandering its paths as a highlight of my late-September/early-October 2014 Iceland Ring Road driving...

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I was dismayed to see that the ornate structure standing in the cobblestoned square outside Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace’s Imperial Gate is now fence enclosed. On my last visit, anyone could step right up and, as the calligraphy enmeshed in tiles and gilded designs instructs, “Turn the tap with the name of Allah, the Protector, and the Merciful. Drink the water and say a prayer for Sultan Ahmet.”

The fountain is one of more than 10,000 that made water accessible...

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The expanse of sculpted white marble titled “The Poet’s Dream” struck me as pretty awful. Located near the Palais de la Découverte, just off the Champs-Élysées, it depicts 19th-century poet Alfred de Musset swooning over his past lovers — affairs now forever cast in stone, albeit the massive sculpture’s 1910 creator, Alphonse Emmanuel de Moncel de Perrin, is little remembered and rightfully so, or so I thought as I turned to leave. 

Just to the right...

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Namibia’s National Botanic Garden was right there, according to my map, close by Windhoek’s impressive Parliament Building and a hop, skip and a jump from the city’s landmark Christ Church. But where was it? 

As I trudged along streets and roads that invariably didn’t take me to the garden, there was no need to remind me that Windhoek is the capital city of the driest country south of the Sahara. My water bottle had long ago gone empty.

“Can...

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The Cathedral of St. Andrew in Wells and its image captured in a reflecting pool. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn
Strolling around the ruins of the Great Hall of the Bishop’s Palace in Wells, England

Bath was awash in Jane Austen character look-alikes. Hundreds of Mr. Darcys and Mrs. Bennets filled the sidewalks of this patrician small city in homage to her for having lived and written there for five years. It was Bath’s annual Jane Austen Festival (in 2014 taking place Sept. 12-21) and I, alas, not a Jane Austen fan, had unwittingly blundered into its midst for a 3-day stay.

“Oh, who could be bored with Bath?” cried Catherine Morland, the ever-optimistic...

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Tulips, tulips and more tulips were the undisputed stars of The Butchart Gardens this day in mid-April 2013 on Vancouver Island, Canada. Tulips edged beds, outlined paths and admired their reflections in ponds, thanks to the importation of 300,000 bulbs from Holland each year.

Along with tulips galore, a bevy of other bulbs, plants, trees and shrubs were in full spring fling throughout The Gardens’ 55 acres. 

Hyacinths, narcissus, pansies and primulas, froths of...

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