Into the Labyrinth of Gardens

I have just returned from the gardens of Sparoza, where our journey through European gardening began in 2002. For two weeks I woke up every dawn there , walked out  to begin shooting video and stills, and continued  shooting until the last light went. When it came time to return home to Bainbridge Island, I felt  there was so much that I hadn’t yet captured of this incredible place where light changed as much throughout each day as the plants had changed in the years since Terri and I had last visited and worked there.

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In the Cactus Garden

When we began our 2002 journey, we had started at Sparoza for two reasons: first, it was where we had encountered the mediterranean Garden Society, whose members would help us through our journey to come; secondly, the gardens of Sparoza were like a huge, fantastic guide book to the landscape, climate, and plants of the Mediterranean Basin. Just walking the grounds there, as the April sun brought constant changes, was the best preparation that travelers into the world of mediterranean gardening could hope for.

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Irises and Poppies

We saw the variations upon wild landscapes and subtle designs that would help us to understand the varieties of settings that lay ahead of us. There was something about the place that combined the very best of a huge natural history museum with an art gallery. Horticulture and European culture were seamlessly interwoven in the landscape – which, in many ways , was what we were trying to accomplish in our trip. We wanted very much to connect what we were seeing in the Pacific Northwest with its wellsprings across the Atlantic.  Oddly enough, we were familiar back home with the Pacific and Asian roots of our gardening ways, yet we had almost forgotten our other tradition – the Mediterranean.

Dancing Euphorbias, Dancing Olives

Dancing Euphorbias, Dancing Olives

After a few days at Sparoza we began to recognize plants, colors, and, yes, many feelings that we knew so well from our own gardens at home. And we readied ourselves to go deeper, toward the center of the Labyrinth.

Sun at the Heart of the Tree

Sun at the Heart of the Tree

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