Category Gardening

Translations, Ham House, and Petersham Nurseries

What to do in London in the middle of October? The weather’s not great, certainly not reliable. All the gardens are past their peak. But the theatre season has begun! So pop down to the National Theatre to see Translations, a play about language and identity and British-Irish relations and history. There was a costume […]


Back in the Emerald City for a week of work… and Justin and friends and house and garden and feeling like a human being with a context. The autumn leaves are turning outside my window… …and my Mexican daisies are still blooming on the roof. Sometimes I think this might be all I need.

The streets of Cordoba

I didn’t think to check the opening times of the cathedral-mosque in advance — and since today is Sunday and it’s an active place of worship, I found myself with a little over 5 hours to kill between the Alcázar and when the cathedral-mosque reopened. Turns out there’s not all that much to do in […]


Here’s some advice for future travelers: do Cordoba first, then Sevilla. It will be easier to appreciate Cordoba’s charms when not comparing to Sevilla’s. Cordoba has an Alcázar. The palace is mostly ruined and nothing special. The gardens are wonderful, full of the noise of playing fountains and the intoxicating scent of jasmine. Not far […]

El Alcazar

I think Islamic architecture may be my spirit animal. It just speaks to me in ways that nothing else does. The patterns and colours and elegant shapes laid out symmetrically and with water everywhere. It feels both maximalist and minimalist at the same time. Balanced and beautiful. That’s what’s behind the walls of the Real […]

I did not kiss the Blarney Stone

As an expat in Europe, few things betray my North Americanness more than (1) not taking an extended vacation in August, and (2) castles. I can’t seem to get over either of them. Hence my one-day August holiday to visit Irish castles… Today’s destination: Blarney Castle, just outside Cork. It’s one of the better examples […]

Searching for Piet Udolph in the Olympic Park

On the far eastern end of London is the sprawling park area where the 2012 Olympics were held. Normally this would not be a draw for me, but I learned that some famous garden designers — including the Dutch designer Piet Udolph — have made some gardens there, and so this weekend I finally made […]