The spring of 2010 has become embarrassment of riches, indeed to a point that to write of them collectively seems vulgarly vainglorious. The other option is to not write of them at all, itself pregnant with hubris.
At this precise moment, a glinty, white and blue United 747 is sliding to its gate in Sydney, Australia, come to take me home. If I cannot bring you up to present since my last posting, before I am confronted by a garden abandoned during a month in April, mobbed by two ancient and endearing dogs whom I have shunned for too many days of their lives, stacks of correspondence and responsibilities, then it is probably not going to happen.
Here are a few snapshots, not terribly diffused by the warping vagaries of time.
After a presentation for the Smithsonian, Robert and I are enjoying a rare rendezvous on the road, with a room at the Hay-Adams looking directly out to the White House. There is a festive event in the mansion to which we have, yet again, not been invited.
In Oxford, I have been put up in rooms at Magdalen College. My windows, gargoyled, look out to five centuries of cloistered history. I am awakened by the college choir in early morning and take my run on the college grounds along a path surrounding the most intact meadow of Fritillaria melagris in Britain.
Bleddyn and Sue, John Grimshaw and our gracious hosts at Thenford House, lunching after a morning walk through a remarkable garden, when through the windows in the velvet fields beyond appears a hunt in full regalia.
In Hobart, Tasmania, I have risen at 5am and, in darkness, depart my lodging on a rented bicycle. At 9am, I arrive to the top of Mt. Wellington in gale-force winds. A marvel of Astelia alpina, Beledenia montana and Leptospermum rupestre at the top, giving way to otherworldly flowering forests of Banksia, Tasmania, Telopaea, Billardiera, Orites, Cyathodes, Leptecophylla and Eucalyptus at lower altitudes. View video here.
The stunning landscape of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, with Xanthorrhea arborea adhered to sheer cliffs and miles of enticing wilderness beyond. My morning run at dawn with bellbirds and black cockatoos, startled by a monstrous-sized Diamond Python under handsome blossoming stands of Lambertia formosa.
Walking through the finest of autumn days, at Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Gisbourne, New Zealand, transported moment by moment from the northern beach forests of Michigan to the high montane of China by means of one of the best woody collections I have visited, made better still by sharing it with a contingent of exuberant, like-minded Kiwis.
Lanarth Castle, Dunedin, with my host Margaret Barker, and titillating views of the surrounding dramatic landscape amidst a climate enviable by any standards. The Dunedin Botanic Garden will remain a standard bearer of what a public garden can achieve.
Along with friend Gordon Collier and his son Matt, we have braced the winds of the Chathams, 600 miles east of Christchurch, reveling in native colonies of the Chatham Island Forget-Me-Not, Astelia chathmanica, Olearia traversii, Corokia macrocarpa, imbued by the noble yet tragically extirpated culture of the Moriori.