The Garden Path

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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by Yvonne Horn

“Ten years ago, this guy this tall.” Zabu Levin indicated a level close to his knees. “Kapooh! Now this tall!” His hand shot up as we looked through the monkey bread tree’s towering branches into the clear, blue Judean Desert sky.

The tree was a nighttime bloomer, Zabu told me, with large, white flowers that lasted but one night, attracting bats with their sweet nectar and the buzz of bees at dawn.

Zabu was walking with me through the botanical garden of...

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by Yvonne Horn

“Take the path to the sea,” the man in the blue, woolly sweater advised. “It’s quite a lovely walk.”

“Are you the head gardener?” I asked.

“No,” he responded with a smile. “I’m Peter Erskine.”

“Oh!,” I said, as it dawned on me that the blue, woolly sweater wearer was Sir Peter Erskine, heir to this estate to which I’d come to spend a day wandering its acres swathed in snowdrops. Cambo Estate, one of Scotland’s grandest.

Beginning in late...

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by Yvonne Horn

Visitors are encouraged to touch, smell and even nibble a berry or two as they stroll through Alnwick Castle’s walled 12 acres of shrubs, trees and flowers. . . until they reach the Poison Garden. Here some of the world’s most toxic and hallucinogenic plants are grown, some so virulent or hallucinogenic that they are incarcerated in caged beds.

Whirlwind of controversy

When the Poison Garden opened in 2005, the year of my visit, it was but the latest...

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by Yvonne Horn

As autumn rustled the last of the leaves from St. Stephen’s Green’s trees, Margaret Gormley, Park Superintendent for Ireland’s oldest public park, already had Ireland’s most famous park’s spring color palate in mind.

In the park’s enormous glass house, long tables of rose, yellow, white and red polyanthus seedlings would share space with flats of wallflower in shades of scarlet and gold. Pansy starts would be well represented — white, yellow and blue. Hyacinth...

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by Yvonne Horn

It has always bewildered me, the fascination people have with the Panama Canal. The water goes up, the ship goes through, the water goes down. Because “canal” and “Panama” seem hopelessly connected, a trip to Panama remained on my Z list. . . until I heard of Boquete.

In the cool highlands of Chiriquí province, an hour’s flight from Panama City, Boquete was described in a local paper as a Shangri-la of tumbling streams plus mountains clad in rainforest, abundant...

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by Yvonne Michie Horn

There is a yearly check Rosie Atkins, curator of London’s Chelsea Physic Garden, never fails to write and get in the mail on time. The check is for five pounds. So it has been, without a payment missed, since 1722.

In 1722, after nearly 50 years in existence, the garden — established by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London in 1673 as an educational tool for apprentices learning to grow and use medicinal plants — was experiencing financial...

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by Yvonne Michie Horn

The Vasa was a magnificent ship. Decorated with symbolic sculptures and carvings, gold leaf on her poop and bronze guns polished to a fare-thee-well, she was built to impress and strike fear as the pride of Sweden’s 17th-century Royal navy.

On a fine August day in 1628, with king, court and populace gathered, she was launched. Within minutes — sails set, flags flying, gun ports open for the royal salute — she caught a gust, heeled over and sank.

...

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