Vibrant wildflowers adorn the the mountains and valleys of Crested Butte for two glorious months. From late June through August, verdant green meadows are dotted with a dazzling array of colors. It’s a veritable kaleidoscope of colors. Swaths of yellow mule’s ears and blue lupines streak the landscape. Brilliant sunny skies transform the flowers into wild stained glass windows for the mountain cathedral. It’s no surprise to learn that Crested Butte claims to be the wildflower capital of Colorado. The wildflowers are so beautiful, you can practically hear the mountains singing their exuberant praise.
Gardens with Latitude. A catchy name but also the defining theme of the Naples Botanical Garden. Located on the 26th latitude north, the garden features plants that thrive between the two 26th parallels. This region includes some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth and is home to many unique plant communities. Themed gardens showcase the plants and culture of Brazil, Florida, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia.
Like the city it resides in, and many of those found between the two 26th latitudes, water is a central theme at the Naples Botanical Garden. The designers use water to organize the space into distinct garden rooms. Crossing over a bridge transports you from one tropical paradise to the next. The diversity of gardens means that there is much to discover. If you move quickly, you’ll be able to see everything in a few hours. But if you’re like me, you’ll be able to spend many glorious hours exploring this tropical paradise.
The first steps are the most difficult. Before you looms a mixture of marl mud and periphyton algae that resembles vomit. Like soggy cheese puffs, the algae floats on the water’s surface.
Don’t hesitate, just walk in. There’s no other way. You will get muddy and wet. But it is completely worth it to be able to see the interior of Big Cypress National Preserve. Once inside, you’ll quickly forget the mud. A beautiful otherworldly forest rises up from the water before you.
A visit to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a visit to the far reaches of the world. As you walk through the 83-acre garden, you’re transported from tropical rainforests to pine rocklands to the forests of Madagascar. Located in Coral Gables, Florida, warm winters and wet summers allow palms, cycads, tropical trees, and flowering shrubs to thrive. The garden is home to one of the largest collections of subtropical and tropical plants within the continental United States.
Costa Brava, or the wild coast, stretches from Blanes to the French border. Like a saw blade, the rugged coast is marked with hundreds of tiny coves and capes. Each one holds a surprise. I went to the Costa Brava searching for pristine waters, fresh seafood, and coastal trails. But I also found an unexpected botanical treasure; the Jardins de Cap Roig. Perched on cliffs that tower above the Mediterranean Sea, the botanical gardens of Cap Roig will delight garden lovers with exotic plant collections and stunning views.
The first snow of the year has blanketed the earth and garden. Snow clings to tree branches and twigs, transforming their dark branches into intricate lace. While the snow may be beautiful, the biting cold is less enjoyable.
Winter came quickly this year. The temperatures plummeted and we’ve been locked in her cold embrace the last few weeks. The first frost and snow finished off the few plants that clung to life. With nature slumbering, strolls through the woods and garden lose some of their fun. I’ve found that the best way to escape the cold and get into the holiday spirit is to visit a garden conservatory.
We’ve all been stumped by the folks that seem to have everything they want or need. Or on the opposite spectrum, minimalists can be just as challenging to buy for. What if, instead of a physical gift, you gave them something that was much more rewarding? Research has shown that experiences bring us more happiness than material possessions. I can’t think of a better gift than that of the outdoors, be it a garden or the woods. This year, consider giving an outdoor experience to your loved ones instead of something they’ll soon forget. A membership to a garden or park is a great way to help them enjoy nature year-round.
Most garden and nature lovers don’t plan their vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains in late November. The native azaleas and rhododendron aren’t blanketing the mountainsides with their blossoms. The fall foliage peak has long passed. And by now, the first frost of the season has finished off most of the plants.
But as I chased warmer weather south, I found myself in Asheville for a couple weeks. And from what I’m told, no visit to Asheville would be complete without a stop at the Biltmore House and Gardens. It’s true that most of the trees are bare at this time of year. But the Picturesque garden style and the wide variety of plants ensures that there is still a lot of beauty to be seen at the Biltmore Gardens.
By now, autumn’s transformative powers have worked their magic on New York City. Golden leaves blanket city sidewalks, ethereal seedheads have replaced flowers, and there’s a crisp chill in the air. If nature is calling to you and you yearn for a little more time outdoors before winter hits, head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than strolling through the park and soaking in the last days of autumn.
How can I even begin to tell you about Breanna and Morvan’s incredible wedding? I can’t imagine a location as perfect as the Chateau de Lacoste in the Périgord region of France. Perched on a hillside that overlooks the Dordogne River valley, the 18th-century chateau is straight out of a storybook. Breanna and Morvan’s families spent three days celebrating their union in this magical place. The beautiful estate offered endless surprises: a secret grotto, a formal topiary garden, a parade of hot air balloons, and epic views of the French countryside. Surrounded by family and friends, they said their vows in an intimate chapel located on the chateau’s grounds. Celebrations continued into the wee hours of the night. It was unlike any wedding I’ve been to; take a look.