Creative expressions of Otagaki Rengetsu. While I am preparing a more detailed account of early women artists of Japan, you have the opportunity of learning more about her here.
There is a world that is lying just outside your window. Pull up the blinds of your inner being and experience it. Let the sunshine plant a kiss on your forehead, allow the gentle breeze to caress your face, permit the butterflies to play with your hands. If you are cursing the cacophony of your urban existence, then don’t be disheartened. We are taking a trip around the world to visit some of the most surreal landscapes and experience nature in its purest form. Join us on this journey.
As the name suggests, Keukenhof was Countess of Hainaut’s Jacqueline kitchen garden. She was a great admirer of nature. In her brief lifespan of 35 years (1401 – 1436), the countess collected many samples of flowers, fruits and vegetables from her many journeys. She brought them back to plant them in her garden. Situated in Lisse, the Netherlands, Keukenhof is not only a piece of heaven on earth but a living history. Famous architects Jan David Zocher and his Louis Paul Zocher gave Keukenhof a makeover in 1857. The flower parade of Keukenhof is scheduled later in the month. Don’t miss the opportunity of participating in the flower parade, celebrated every year in this old Dutch town.
The highest joys spring from those possessions which are common to all, which we can neither alienate ourselves nor be deprived of by others, to which kind nature has given all an equal right – a right which she herself guards with silent omnipotence.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Villa d’Este is part of UNESCO World Heritage list. Besides, the mannerist architecture and huge collection of masterful artworks, the villa is renowned for its baroque garden. The project was ensued by Ippolito II d’Este who was ably assisted by such architects as Pirro Ligorio (1514 – 1583) and Alberto Galvani. But it really flourished during Cardinal Alessandro d’Este’s (1568 – 1624) tenure. The parkland, decorated with most ornate sculptures, served as a prototype of many a garden of Europe, both famous and not so famous. . In its heyday, the garden hosted frequent concerts of noted musician and composers like Franz Liszt. As you stroll under its century old trees, you will still hear music playing incessantly in the gentle breeze, rustling of leaves and gushing of fountain water.
Parc Floral de la Source
Parc Floral de la Source is spread on the banks of Loiret in Orleans, France. Created in 1963, it is a relatively new construction compared to the other famous gardens of the country. It boasts of elaborate rock garden, grassland, butterfly greenhouse, special areas designated for dahlias, irises and vegetables. But it is most famous for its rose garden. This rose garden is indeed one of the prime attractions of Loire Valley which you should never miss on your trip to this region. After all, there is nothing more enticing than spending an entire afternoon breathing into the fragrant atmosphere of Parc Floral de la Source’s rosarium. If you are still harbouring some doubt, see what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has to say on the matter (courtesy his famous character Mr Sherlock Holmes),
Our highest assurance of the goodness of providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.
Powerscourt Garden existed since early 18th century in Enniskerry, Ireland. However, it took its present form more than a century later. Daniel Robertson, a 19th century British architect, integrated all his experiences of travelling in various gardens of Europe to create this ethereal piece of landscape for Vicsount Powerscourt. Subsequent members of the family took great care of the garden and even remodelled certain portions of it according to the prevailing fashion. “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” – What Cicero said hundreds of years ago stands true to this date.
At this point we will take a long flight across globe to land in our next destination.
Okayama Korakuen is another place where you can really enjoy being a part of resplendent nature. Tsuda Nagatada, a local bureaucrat during the reign of Ikeda Tsunamasa, took orders from his master to start construction of this beautiful garden in 1687. It was completed 13 years later. Since then, the garden acts as one of the most gorgeous place to be during any time of the year, but more so during spring – summer months. Besides, fragrant flowers and trees you will also have many cranes for your company. It is situated in Okayama Prefecture of Japan.
Nong Nooch Botanical Garden
Since 1954, Nong Nooch Botanical Garden has been a place where you may experience the joy of being one with nature. Additionally, it also a acted as a conservation area for many rare plant species. Among other species of flora, Nong Nooch is most acclaimed for preserving several cyclads species. It maintains a gene pool for this tropical plant species.
I am aware that I have omitted many noteworthy names from this list. Though I intend to cover some more in my future posts it will still be insufficient for covering them all. At any rate, this is not meant to be a list of ‘world’s best gardens, ‘top gardens’, ‘famous gardens’ or ’10 gardens you must visit before you …’. Certainly, the patch of greenery you create at your own backyard or patio, through your own sweat and meticulous planning, remains the dearest place for you to be in.
This post intends to showcase what beauty we can create on earth if we only collaborate with nature just a little bit. And, what we will soon lose if we continue our mad rush of creating concrete landscapes. My experience also says, while we take a trip, closer to home or somewhere in the distant land, we often ignore visiting such places as gardens and museums or remain in a mad rush to just go through them. The wealth of any place, natural or cultural, can be found in these locations only.
Slowing down to soak in the charm of the perfumed atmosphere, holding a silent conversation with that century old tree and join in the merriment with birds and butterflies may just prove to be an experience you have never considered indulging in all your life. Besides, it will also be a wonder drug for rejuvenating your body and mind.
Footfalls echo in the memory,
Down the passage which we did not take,
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose–garden.
T S Eliot
Your vernal foliage never had to go through the anguish of decay. Even hundred years on, your Shinryoku remains a harbinger of hope for everyone who chances an eye on them. And, you Hayami? Even if death nipped the bud of your artistic majesty, you remained defiant. Life triumphed through your art. It continue to do so even today.
As I Walked Out One Evening by W H Auden (21st February, 1907 – 29th September, 1973)
As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
Love has no ending.
I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.
But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
’O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.
In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.
In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To–morrow or to–day.
Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.
’O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.
The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea–cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.
Painting by Andō Hiroshige (1797 – 1858)