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On Gardens

I like gardens that are gracious, well-kept, and delight the visitor with a multitude of textures, fragrances, water features, and vistas. I like gardens that allow people to walk on the grass, assuming they pick up their litter when they leave. Gardens give me space for contemplation and renewal. Many people are able to coax amazingly beautiful garden displays – they know when to water, when to feed, when to prune, when to plant. I am not one of those people. I water and sometimes prune, but after that the plants are on their own. Every new plant gets the same speech – “I will do what I can to enhance your life, but you must decide whether you want to live or die. If you want constant attention, this isn’t going to work out.” The good news is that over time I have learned which plants can put up with me – gardenias, geraniums and a few others. They kindly give me color and fragrance, and overlook my parsimonious attention. I talk to them when I can and try to keep their feet moist.

Some gardens have official gardeners. Lucky plants. These professionals know their herbaceous clients and give them just what they need when they need it. They keep the lawns mowed, the underbrush cleared, the trees in good health. I think they have something magic in their green fingers. Many of these gardeners work in large public and private gardens. They keep the flowers blooming at Oxford University. They keep Mrs. Jennie Butchart’s dream alive at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. Butchart Gardens has a lovely image gallery at Just looking at the images is relaxing.

Happily, there are beautiful gardens in Hawai`i – one of these is part of the Honolulu Museum of Art.   Spalding House sits in a quiet neighborhood on Makiki Heights. Anna Rice Cooke, founder of the museum, built the house and began the gardens in 1924. The structure is a delightful example of the simple, but elegant, lifestyle of territorial Hawai`i. The gardens are a sanctuary above the city with a view of Diamond Head. The Museum has added outdoor art — a woven horse here, a sculpture there. Peaceful serenity – a place for creative play. More information on Spalding House at the Honolulu Museum of Art website I took a few pictures – hope they bring a bright note to your day.


Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.


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