tree pollarding

Across Europe I see a lot of pollarded trees (what’s a pollard?) to fit into an limited space or more often, to extend the life of the tree as an important element of the city or rural landscape.

Prague castle

Prague castle pollards

I always hope to catch other gardeners in the act when taking a winter walk around the  neighborhood so I can use the cut branches for a project requiring fresh, green wood, but this hasn’t happened yet.

The Dutch are masters at pollarding their willow trees along the “sloten” or thin canals which criss cross the flat land. I look forward to seeing their familiar silhouettes during our upcoming visit.

secret garden

The most wonderful garden discoveries are usually the ones behind closed doors and gates. Inner courtyards are full of hidden treasures and I often find myself inside these private spaces and pretending not to understand any signs or symbols regarding entry. Here I came upon such a treasure in Genova, Italy (that’s me in the center with my two eldest sons), amazed how such an elaborate terraced garden is used as a parking area for the employees of the surrounding bank building.genova, Italy

tree identification

I came upon these “tree boards” in a storefront in Bologna, Italy. They seem a simple, effective way to teach tree identification to children. They can be passed around from desk to desk or displayed in the classroom. Of course, these boards can be created with any plant material although some types could deteriorate quickly.

tree boards

lawn logo

Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen

The town of Landshut (an hour drive northeast of Munich) is home to Trausnitz Castle (1204 AD). Last time I visited,  I came upon an unexpected use of a logo or mark (the Bavarian State Trust for Castles, Gardens and Lakes), mown into the grass. Initially, I thought it an interesting plan for a vegetable garden until my eldest son pointed out the logo on a directional sign. A subtle alternative to the sometimes garish lettering-with-brightly-colored-annuals, seen in corporate parks.


lawn logo





vegetable plot

It is the time of year many gardeners [in the northern regions] design and begin planting their vegetable and herb gardens. I prefer to buy my produce from local farmers or “pick-your-own” fields, all within a bike ride away. However, I thought these images of the open air museum in Comté, France  may inspire….historic vegetable garden

These gardens use heirloom seeds only and are based on historical research of gardens of the 17th and 18th century in the Doubs region of France. I love the big slabs of antique stone used as a fence (above), their radiant heat extending the harvest season.

(These photos were taken in late Fall)


historic herb garden