2020, The Year of the Botanical Garden

Chicago Botanic GardenWhether it’s viewing the exotic proteas in bloom at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town or sniffing and touching my way through the many herbs at Montreal Botanical Garden’s Courtyard of the Senses, botanical gardens and arboretums have figured prominently in my travel writing over the years. Even when I have no assignment, I’ll happily visit the nearby New York Botanical Garden or Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, two of the finest getaways in the northeast. Even more so this year, when we finally gathered the courage to leave our houses and venture outdoors, only to be embraced by a sea of color, fresh air, and serenity. After driving 16 hours from Boston to Chicago to see Lisa’s mom, Fran, we spent the entirety of the next morning strolling almost every path of the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. It’s a retreat we know well since Fran lives in nearby in Lincolnwood and rarely have we missed a chance to visit when in the area. But it felt especially like a salubrious retreat this summer, to see all the flowers in bloom, walk the meditative Japanese Garden surrounded by water, and breathe deeply. On our drive back from Chicago, we stopped about 30 minutes east of Cleveland to wisely spend several hours at the Holden Arboretum. We were surprised to find a canopy walk, high above the treetops, not unlike one you would find in Costa Rica. We also met artist Patrick Dougherty as he created three of his whimsical Stickwork sculptures from the maze of twisted willow branches. When I think back on the limited travel we did this summer, this will certainly be one of the highlights.