Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

The last stop on my day trip down the Cape Peninsula took me to Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, the world's first indigenous botanic garden. We arrived at 5pm, an hour before closing time, after the sun had dropped behind the mountain. The gardens were lush and peaceful.          In the cycad garden, life-sized fibreglass [...]

Are French council gardeners horticultural geniuses?

Are French council gardeners horticultural geniuses?

Wine, cheese, fashion, architecture. I was expecting these. But no one told me about the street plantings! I associate French gardens with formality, symmetry, topiary, parterres. I thought Monet's garden at Giverny was the exception, not the rule. Yet wherever I went in France, the streets and parks were planted with dramatic foliage and intensely [...]

Looking German in Bergheim and Haut-Koenigsbourg

Looking German in Bergheim and Haut-Koenigsbourg

Having spent the morning in Colmar, the travelling librarians visited the medieval town of Bergheim. The gate tower was built in 1300. People in the Alsace region traditionally spoke Alsatian, a German dialect, and like Strasbourg and Colmer, the German influence is evident in Bergheim. I have a kind of curiosity about German culture simply [...]

Ridiculously good-looking Colmar

Ridiculously good-looking Colmar

On Sunday, the travelling librarians headed out of Strasbourg for a day trip to the historic towns of Colmar and Bergheim and Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. We hit the road with Rudolphe the bus driver and Yves the tour guide. Yves had taken us on a walking tour of Strasbourg the previous day and I could fill [...]

Backyard playgrounds

Backyard playgrounds

I've been thinking about reworking the backyard a bit (or a lot, maybe) to make it more play-friendly for my kids. The space worked well when they were preschoolers. I resisted the traditional cubby house - kids seem to get bored with them fast, and I saw so many unused cubbies that were damp and [...]