Thursday, 9 May 2013

Californian sunshine

(copyright Liz Ware)
No doubt you've heard the good news - English Heritage are funding the Historic Landscape Project for another two years.  Verena McCaig continues as Historic Landscape Project Officer but will be sharing the role with Linden Groves.  You probably already know Linden as Casework Manager for the Garden History Society (GHS).  Their shared, full-time post will allow the  project to extend right across England. They're looking forward to working with all the County Gardens Trusts.

There are many things that both the Association of Gardens Trusts (AGT) and the GHS do very well, but close to the top of the list must come their Study Days and Study Tours.  I've just spent two weeks on the GHS tour of California organised by Liz Goodfellow.

Liz organised an action packed itinerary for a (fortunately!) energetic bunch of landscape architects and garden historians.  As Charles Boot (Buckinghamshire GT) reminded us (when we showed signs of flagging) 'this is a Study Tour, not a holiday'!

(copyright Liz Ware)
Thanks to the generosity of the Californian landscape architects, directors, curators, garden owners, and guides who gave us their time, we finished the tour with our brains buzzing. It's only now, after some time for reflection, that we realise just how extraordinary the trip was.

An article on the Study Tour will appear in the GHS Autumn News, but here are just a few of a long list of personal (rather than academic) highlights:

- The desert garden at Huntingdon Botanic Garden  (a riot of colour and texture after such a long winter in the UK)
- The lemon arbour at Lotusland
- The sense of space and light at the Getty Center
- Sunrise over the mountains during an early morning run to the beach at Santa Barbara
- Discovering Julia Morgan (why didn't I know about her before?!)
- A couple of free hours to walk on the empty beach at Cambria (seals, sea-otters, wild flowers, and tranquillity)
- The perfectly choreographed drive up to Hearst Castle (and the polar bear!)
- A seat on the 'right' side of the bus for the long drive along that spectacular (and fog-free) coastline
 - The Immigrant Workers garden at Cornerstone
- Oakland Cathedral (and our driver, Alan, who suggested it)
- Watching students at Berkeley play Quidditch (running on a broomstick isn't quite as elegant as flying on one!)
- Peaceful time at the iconic (Thomas Church designed) Il Novillero-Donnell Garden with its delightful owners
- Gertrude Jekyll's drawings at Berkeley Environmental Design Archives (a bit of a personal pilgrimage)

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