The Garden Path

by Yvonne Horn

“I’ll tell you all about the monu­ments as we go along,” Sylvia Kolbe suggested as we set out to walk what was once the city of Leipzig’s fortified walls and today is the Promenadenring, an encircling ring of leafy, sometimes flowery, greenery.

I’d requested a city guide knowledgeable about not only the city but plants and gardens. Sylvia was perfect. She is not only a Leipzig resident with long generational ties to the city but one with a love of gardening...

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by Yvonne Horn

Ah, the gardens of Iran. Pictured in my mind’s eye were the celestial paradises of the Koran in which flowers bloom, fruit ripens and man and beasts live in harmony. I pictured the romantic gardens of Persian poets. “The rose has flushed red, the bud has burst, and drunk with joy is the nightingale,” wrote the 14th-century poet Hafez.

Pictured, too, were mental images of the royal pleasure gardens of the 17th-century Safavids along with the enclosed, designed-to-...

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by Yvonne Michie Horn

San Miguel de Allende was just another sleepy, colonial backwater in Mexico until the 1950s, when it was discovered by creative and artistic souls. Slowly and then more quickly it became an expatriate darling until it stretched far beyond its quaint, cobbled streets and lovely old buildings.

Gated communities — largely American and Canadian inhabited — had gradually taken over six of the seven canyons surrounding the town’s historic center. In 1989, the...

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by Yvonne Michie Horn

Had I stepped into a storybook? Cute-as-a-button little cottages painted in shades of red, yellow, white and green nestled behind white picket fences and clipped hedges, each surrounded by an array of flowers, abundant beds of vegetables, and fruit trees summer-heavy with fruit.

The path I followed took me deeper into the collection of little houses and gardens clinging to the hillside that descended to the edge of Sweden’s Årstaviken Bay.

“Yoo-hoo...

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When Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens opens for the season in the spring of 2010, its ornate gates will swing wide for the 168th time, providing, as from Tivoli’s first days, “a magical place for recreation and fresh air.”

That is how Tivoli’s creator, Georg Carstensen, a publisher of periodicals, described what he had in mind when he approached King Christian VIII to ask for permission to realize his dream. He topped off his proposal by mentioning that “when the people are amusing...

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by Yvonne Michie Horn

I’d come to the city of Oaxaca, southern Mexico’s cultural treasure, for a two-week immersion in Spanish. During that time, I wandered around the Old City in my off-school hours, jumping at every opportunity to practice my emerging language skills. As I walked cobbled streets, I kept running into the name of Francisco Toledo, Oaxaca’s reigning contemporary artist.

“Toledo is a seed,” my teacher told me. “Toledo has insisted that our total culture be...

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by Yvonne Michie Horn

Wrote an amazed Marco Polo of 13th-century Suzhou, “There are fully 6,000 stone bridges, such that one or two galleys could readily pass beneath them.”

He continued on with a detailed description of a noble city crisscrossed with canals — not unlike his native Venice — where “the citizens of this city,” men of enormous wealth and consequence, hobnobbed with philosophers, the literati and physicians schooled in nature. All dressed in the fine silk for...

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by Yvonne Michie Horn

There were three possibilities: I was waiting at the wrong harbor, had drastically misunderstood the ferry’s schedule or was the sole person bound for Lopud. The bench at the ferry departure dock was mine alone, with no other passengers in sight.

Ahh, a ferry, a small-sized member of the fleet that ties the islands and mainland of Croatia together, rounded the bend. Right on time, according to the schedule to Lopud.

With that, passengers streamed...

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