When you travel for work or with family, do you try to squeeze garden pilgrimages into your itinerary? This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my cousin’s wedding in California and although the events surrounding The Event and the happy time spent with far-flung family took up most of the hours of the weekend, I still managed to get in two Blithewold inspired visits. (Many thanks to my easy-going travel companions who graciously handed me the car keys and said, “Let’s go!”)

The last time I visited Muir Woods I was a car-sick and surly teenager stuck on someone else’s tour. This time I went with an eagerness of being reacquainted with the family of a favorite friend: Coast Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), which occupy a narrow corridor of temperate and foggy Pacific coast, and may live for thousands of years, are cousin to our Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) – a youngster by comparison. This time I was properly awestruck and as reverent as a pilgrim (even though I didn’t have to walk there on my knees) in the presence of Nature at its most venerable. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Van Wickle/McKee’s visited these trees too… If you go, go early to find a parking spot and a little silence before the polyglot crowds arrive.

My travel companions were also kind enough – and interested enough – to allow me to drive them deep into the Richmond outskirts to wander Annie’s Annuals. I just noticed this quote on their homepage – ha!

“A trip to Annie’s Annuals nursery in Richmond is for true plant fanatics what a religious pilgrimage is to the devout believer.”
-Barbara Wood Palo Alto Weekly

I’m not sure Annie’s would have been on my must-see list if it weren’t for Blithewold but I have been eager to visit ever since I first perused their catalog and found plants we couldn’t garden without. The nursery is huge – must be acres, and as funky as the catalog; every plant is labeled*, grouped by like-types, tantalizingly described and very reasonably priced. If I lived nearby, I’d need a car with a lot more cargo space.

*I didn’t look hard enough for a label on the plant in the bottom right photo – anyone know its name?

While I was away, the gardens here grew! even more beautiful. I’ve talked to visitors in the last couple of days who added a trip to Blithewold to their travel agenda – and their companions seemed as pleased as mine for the detour.

Where would you go – or where have you gone lately – on pilgrimage? (This very minute Gail is visiting gardens near Philadelphia!)

5 thoughts on “Pilgrimage

  1. Just curious, what are you ordering from Annie’s that you now can’t do without?

    Susan, I want the plant that has no i.d. so far (I was counting on you!) and I also kind of love the idea of a black coral pea (Kennedia nigricans) because I’ve never seen anything like it… -kris

  2. looks like a fine pilgrimage indeed! i’m looking forward to exploring seattle gardens soon… will you be there?

    Andrea, The CA trip took precedence over the Seattle fling this year – I wish I could have done both because you’re getting to gardens that I never visited in all the years I lived there. Take lots of pictures! -kris

  3. Always try to fit in a plant related side trip! I just got back from the Peckham’s Garden Tour to Essex and Beth Chatto’s garden. I love her and her garden!

    Layanee, I loved your post on “stalking Beth Chatto” but didn’t get a chance to comment – I’ll say it here: I’m so envious of you!! -kris

  4. Kris,
    I believe the mystery plant is s spiny crested alintha.

    Gary, I’ll give you spiny crested but I hope you don’t ever get any scrabble/boggle points for alintha. -kris

  5. We have visited Philadelphia every spring for the last five years. We try to visit a garden each time. We’ve been to Longwood Gardens several times, Winterthur, and Morris Arboretum. This spring we discovered Chanticleer in Wayne, PA. It was wonderful! I highly recommend it.

    Carol, Chanticleer was on Gail’s list of visits and I can’t wait to hear her impressions! I think she went to Winterthur too… -kris

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