I have always been an outdoors kind of person, playing outside dawn till dusk as a kid in and around Cleveland Ohio. I developed a connection to the woods and farmland spending the days climbing, digging, catching, planting, and building with what nature made available. As I got older and became infatuated with plants, I learned all I could and spent my days chasing beautiful gardens and specimen trees. Over the past 25 years, I have been exploring across the US and Europe and have barely scratched the surface of nurseries, botanical gardens, and public/private landscapes. Shared here are a few of the photos I have accumulated over time, though they can never convey the true magic of the scents or connections one makes in the domain of plants.
From the Eastern Shore of Maryland to the Western Oregon Rainforest you can find some of the most amazing production facilities and nurseries. These are often multigenerational businesses with migrating labor forces and challenges we can never truly appreciate without living the lifestyle of a farmer. The secrets of propagation and nursery production are passed down through hard work and do not exist in books. Nursery people are the salt of the earth, they make up some of my most cherished relationships.
Many people do not realize the risk or the timeline of what it takes to produce finished plant material. A farm must decide on whether they will start their plants through seed, tissue culture, grafting, purchasing liners, or collecting their seeds and starts from the wild. They may often need to use all these types of methods to get plants to start growing and each has different requirements. Once they get things started and have a facility to care for the plants, they need to decide if they will be planted in the ground, a pot, root bag, or air-pot. Plants often spend 3 to 7 years with several growers before they get to market. Could you imagine guessing what may be popular or what ends up on an invasive species list 7 years in advance!
There are several moments in the year at garden shows, plant exposés, and botanical gardens that these magnificent plants get displayed to show their potential and inspire the art of our craft. Some of the highlights in my photos are from the RHS flower shows in Chelsea, PHS Flower Show in Philadelphia, Floriade in the Netherlands, and Spring trials in Southern California.
The Gardens of the Delmarva Peninsula are spectacular examples of gardens and estates committed to the preservation of the Art of Horticulture. My favorite to visit are Longwood Gardens, Chanticleer, the Trial Gardens at Mt. Cuba, La Dew, and Winterthur. If you can get to the west coast, The Getty, and the public gardens around Pasadena and San Diego are worth visiting amongst many other great green spaces.
During these challenging times of Covid, I often thank goodness that the best place to be is outside with the plants! Happy Exploring.
Barrett Robinson, Purchaser