65 and still alive

I turned 65 on July 1. With what seems like astonishing speed I went from 42 to 65. To celebrate my birthday and also to look at places and plants new to me, Mary and I took a trip to Dubrovnik, then to Montenegro, Albania and Greece.

The first stop was Dubrovnik. It was founded in the 7th century. Its history is the history of the Mediterranean world. In 1991 it was shelled by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and badly damaged. Today, only the newer tile roofs of the repaired houses indicate it was ever damaged. But some 60 people died in yet another pointless internecine struggle.

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From Dubrovnik south to Montenegro and the city of Ulcinj. And a little sailing.

IMG_6916 (2)Sailing being looking at this beautiful sailboat from the shore.

Then to Albania and a couple of days spent in the Llogora National Park.


With wind blown black pines (Pinus nigra)

Pinus nigra 1

and the remains of one of Enver Hoxha’s 173,371 concrete bunkers, used to observe and repel any potential invasion.


Growing in the rubble is Digitalis ferruginea.

Digitalis ferruginea 1

Phlomis fruticosa


and Pterocephalus perennis (I think).

Pterocephalus 4

The Ceraunian Mountains drop sharply to the Ionian Sea.



Down to a lovely bay which was once a Soviet submarine base.

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On to Greece. The Peloponnese. Olives and grapes everywhere.


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And Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)

Cotinus coggygria 1

Euphorbia dendroides coming into leaf.

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Genista lydia in full flower.

Genista lydia 2

Echinops spinosissimus

Echinops spinosissimus 4

So many plants. So little time.

I think I will return. In Spring. This time to Crete.



Author: urbanehorticulture

A native of England a U.S. citizen for the past 30 years, I have worked in the garden world as a director and designer for over 35 years. I am best-known for my groundbreaking designs at Chanticleer, an estate and “pleasure garden” in Wayne, PA, where I worked for 20 years. Career Highlights I started my gardening life at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, England, where I was trained as a gardener. I worked in three other gardens in the UK, notably Portmeirion in Wales, Bateman’s in Sussex, and Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. At Bateman’s, I was responsible for the restoration of the 17th-century garden. I came to the U.S. in 1981 and was director and chief designer of Chanticleer in Pennsylvania for the next 20 years. I transformed a moribund private estate into one of America’s most exuberant, romantic and flamboyant gardens. Its glorious 47 acres have been celebrated by gardeners and horticulturists from around the world and, based on my designs, it continues to draw international visitors every season. After twenty years creating Chanticleer, I became vice president for horticulture for the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden and, in 2006, was appointed director of the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, Canada. While pleased to be in Canada, my heart yearned for California and in 2008 he was appointed executive director of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. After a successful period in northern California, he returned to his home near Santa Barbara, CA where I operated my own design-consulting business. In 2012, I was lured back east by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (founded in 1827) and appointed director of its private estate and garden, Meadowbrook Farm. I was commissioned by PHS to design the central feature for the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, the third major exhibit I have designed for PHS over the years. Among numerous other responsibilities, I have been a member of the board of the Fairmount Park Conservancy in Philadelphia and a founding member of the business advisory board for the Flora of North America Project. I have designed gardens in Chicago, northern and southern California, and throughout the Northeastern United States. I have also been a consultant to the Garden Conservancy and to Botanic Gardens Conservation International, as well as serving on the horticulture advisory committee of Lotusland in Santa Barbara, California. I have been the Advancement Advisor for the Flora of North America Association and am now traveling the world researching, interviewing, and photographing for a book on gardens around the world. Books & Awards My n first book, The Encyclopedia of Perennials, was published in 1992 by Facts on File. I also contributed to 1001 Gardens to See Before You Die (Barron's Educational Series, 2012) and The Gardener’s Garden (Phaidon Press, 2014). In 2003, I was awarded the Professional Citation for significant achievements in public horticulture by the American Public Garden Association. In 2007, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded me its prestigious medal for Distinguished Achievement. I currently live in the Bay Area, California.

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The New Perennialist

Musings on plants, gardens, travel, food and sex. Mostly plants and gardens.


for people who want more than gardening from gardens


Uprooting the Gardening World

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