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The Birthplace of Better Homes & Gardens

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James Baggett (right), the editor I freelance for at Country Gardens magazine, has long legs. Fortunately I do too, or I would have been running during a tour he gave of Meredith Corporation’s headquarters in Des Moines last week. There was a lot to see and not nearly enough time; the facility encompasses 180,000 square feet of office space on four levels with a 230-foot skywalk. There are lovely and intriguing works of art everywhere, such as this tile mural. Continue Reading →

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South African Adventure

One of the great things about being a horticulturist specializing in succulents is that I’m part of a worldwide community of like-minded enthusiasts. Case in point is an email I received this week from Jeremy Proctor, who lives in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. He had visited South Africa and sent me a link to a Picasa page with his photos of the marvelous succulents he saw. Below are some of the highlights, with his comments and then mine in italics.

“A kokerboom tree (Aloe dichotoma) — the first of many I saw up-close on this trip.”

And it’s in bloom! People may not realize that there are succulent trees. This one grows well in Southern CA, too, if given excellent drainage. Continue Reading →

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Why My Journey To Ecuador’s Rainforest Left An Imprint On Me .. and a BIG Holiday Giveaway..

In my last post, I showed photos of the time I spent in the Andes Mountains with an indigenous community. When we got on the bus and waved goodbye, after being recipients of their hospitality and warmth for 2 days, I didn’t want to leave. I felt that spending another week on the land and with this community would be nourishment for my body and soul.

The next leg of the journey – and the reason why all of us had trekked so far – was to spend time in the rainforest and with the indigenous tribe, the Achuar.

Kapawi Lodge – Achuar Operated – In The Rainforest

In order to get to where they live, we needed to take a 9 seat plane and then a motorized canoe trip. There is no other access.

I jumped at the chance to sit next to the pilot. I had a full frontal view as we entered the rainforest. Gazing at the massive canopy of green  abutting the river, I felt like I had touched a piece of heaven.

Ecuador Rainforest

Why was it so important that we spend time with the Achuar? This indigenous tribe of 6000, live on their ancestral land – nearly 2 million acres. They’ve been able to preserve their way of life without a lot of influence or colonization from the outside world where they reside- straddling the borders of Ecuador and Peru.

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Gardening en Español, a green roof and other notes from Uruguay

Karena Hogg, a Uruguayan landscape designer waves a copy of the book I wrote with Nigel Dunnett on green roofs.

For the third time in five years I’m lecturing in Spanish-speaking America (you can read my accounts of lecturing in Mexico here, and here – that was an experience!) . Being interpreted (see my recent post about Argentina). We always have the same discussion – why aren’t there more books and material on gardening in Spanish? So many books are either translations from English or books published in Spain, and not particularly relevant to the Americas. Interest in gardening and landscape is growing in South America, and the Estados Unidos itself  is gradually turning bilingual. Any visitor to the US, especially the south-west, is aware of how much garden work is done by workers from Mexico and further south; some of whom are now settling and setting up their own garden maintenance businesses. Gardening is turning Spanish, but where are the books and other media? Continue Reading →

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How My Journey To An Indigenous Community in Ecuador Gave Me A Deeper Appreciation of Nature

Andes Mountain

I returned this Thursday from a 2 week journey in Ecuador. Since I’m still grappling with how to use words to write about this powerful journey, in this post I’m using photos to tell a story.

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