A little green emerald gem lies buried within a sea of smoke stacks and chemical manufacturing plants at the Chempark home of Bayer AG in Leverkusen near Cologne (Köln) in Germany. Chempark is home to the little miracle of Bayer aspirin, but it had another surprise in store for me when I visited on a business trip a few years ago and came upon the Duisberg Japanese Garden.
San Francisco’s gorgeous gal, Golden Gate Park celebrates her 150th birthday in April. Like many in the Bay Area, I have an intimate relationship with the park, roaming her hidden trails, sniffing and whiffing her medicinal treasures, gazing across the Moon Garden flanked by seasonal fuchsia-flecked camellia blooms and powdery pink cherry trees, each rosy and ripe in the spring, naked and lonely in the winter. Indifferent to the seasons, I never miss a chance to sprint across one of the Botanical Garden’s vast apple green lawns only to be surprised that one abuts massive grandfather redwoods, the entrance to the Redwood Forest, and home to some of the oldest trees in the park. But I digress, have gotten ahead of time, and must take you back 150 years ago to the inception of Golden Gate Park.
Story and Photos by Lee Daley. If, like me, you’ve more than once viewed a painting and wished you could walk right into it, you will find Topiary Park in Downtown Columbus an art lover’s dream come true. Ensconced in the shadow of ultra-modern high rises, paths wind through this ethereal space, a sculpted shrubbery rendition of Georges Seurat’s famous post-impressionistic painting, A Sunday on the Island of la Grande Jatte. Spread out over five acres, more than seventy life-like topiary sculptures, clipped and shaped into three dimensional figures of couples, children and pets, resemble the figures in Seurat’s artwork. Five boats bob in a reedy, reflective pond that stands in for the River Seine. Intended to create the sense of being within the actual “painting,” the figures are arranged just like Seurat’s painting but created in a new medium. With the painting as inspiration, Topiary Park brings visitors full circle, back into an afternoon in the park.
Story and Photos by Libor Pospisil. The Loire River passes slowly through Amboise. The old houses, the stony bridge, and, above all, the stunning Renaissance chateau on the cliff create an outrageously harmonic scene. Amboise is one of the small towns in the Loire Valley, the cultural region about three hours south of Paris. It attracts millions of visitors every year for its chateaus, wines, and bike paths. But the bucolic vibe of the Loire Valley, made up of calm waters, mild hills, lush forests, and golden fields, should not deceive our eyes. This is not a provincial outpost. Modern France emerged right here. At the end of the 15th century Paris lacked its current grandeur and the small village of Amboise witnessed more than its fair share of historical events, including royal births, weddings, and deaths. No wonder the Loire Valley was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Story and Photos by David A. Laws.
I pulled my jacket close against the chill stirring of an early breeze. A heavy silence enveloped the world in the final darkest minutes before dawn. To the east, a gray sliver of pending morning peeked from beneath a band of straggling clouds to silhouette the rugged crest of the Temblor Range. Planning a day exploring the Carrizo Plain, I had risen early to drive 200 miles from my home in Pacific Grove to watch the sunrise and a promised floral Carrizo Plain Gold super bloom from this elevated spot at the northern entrance to the National Monument that has been called “California’s Serengeti.”
Located at the base of mystical Mount Kuchumaa range, Rancho La Puerta defies definition. Some hail it a holistic healing environment; others define it as a bounty of beauty and relaxation, and those who sojourn yearly simply refer to it as “the Ranch.” La Puerta means door in Spanish, and the moment one wends through the mix of intoxicating beauty–meadows carpeted with fragrant flowers, giant oaks flanking perfectly placed pathways and velvety, verdant lawns–you realize that you have walked through a door like no other; a cherished experience you want to tuck into your suitcase and carry home.
Story and Photos by Stephanie Levin
Warning! This is not a quiz. But if you’re not from Canada, or your geographical antenna isn’t pointed toward Quebec, the Lower Laurentians might bypass your radar screen, and that would be too bad, particularly for the traveler who thrives on unassuming pristine landscapes, sporting adventures, family farms and wide-open spaces.