Singapore’s futuristic Gardens by the Bay may look like a scene of out of the Jetsons, but rest assured, it’s real.
When I lived in New England, we made autumn excursions to the orange and red hills of Vermont and New Hampshire. On the west coast, we get lost in corn mazes. Cooler temperatures mean that it's no longer summer, but the season still beckons us outside with fields of fiery-colored abundance. And in Japan, October is no different. Just outside Tokyo is a flower park that blooms bright in autumn. The hills are covered with Kochia scoparia (syn.
In the 3rd-century BC, with the planting of a single tree, the city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, became a sacred place. The tree was grown from a cutting from a holy tree in Bodh Gaya, under which Buddha had found enlightenment.
From the green obelisks of early Roman villas to the tidy privet mazes of medieval monasteries, topiary sculptures have evolved alongside the design of the garden. Fancifully anthropomorphic or practically geometric, there seem to be few limitations on what forms can be pruned by a topiary artist. And, it can be a way to design a landscape-specific garden—not with native plants, but with native animals.
If you've read "A World Apart," our article about moss in Japan, and you're interested in visiting the gardens, here are all the details:
Here in the United States, many of us are familiar with sakura matsuri, or the cherry blossom festival that occur around the world during this time of year. But after the cherry blossoms fall, Japan has another beautiful floral celebration fuji matsuri, or the wisteria festival. Here are some photographs of the amazing wisteria tunnels that bloom in Japan, generally flowering from mid-April to mid-May.
This gracious five-story ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, fed by onsen, or hot springs, in the mountains southwest of Tokyo was recently renovated and today is run by the fourth generation of the family that established the business in 1951. Three public baths encourage gathering with other guests before tea and meals.
It seems fitting that my husband and I got lost on our way to Saihō-ji, arguably the most famous moss garden in the world but one carefully tucked away from it, on the outskirts of Kyoto. To reach the 1,300-year-old temple grounds swathed in at least 120 kinds of moss feels like tearing an opening into contemporary Japan. That modern context, a maze of tile-roofed houses winding up and down around the garden’s elusive entrance, trapped and confused us, until a sympathetic local resident parked her bike and showed us the way, as she’d clearly done for other tourists.
The lavish Udaivilas in northwestern India opened eight years ago, but it looks and feels as though it has stood along the banks of Lake Pichola for centuries. That’s the magic of this 30-acre resort in Udaipur, which was designed inside and out to resemble a palace in Mewar, one of the ancient kingdoms of India. Landscape architect Bill Bensley of Bensley Design Studios in Thailand researched traditional Mewari gardens to give visitors the royal treatment from the moment they arrive and are greeted by two stone elephants and pink-blooming Bauhinia trees.