Monday, June 16, 2008

Visiting Le Jardin Botanique

If you're not into flowers, if you're not a gardener -- you might just want to stop now. This post is about my visit to le Jardin Botanique de Montreal.

I went there hoping to see some of the things I miss growing in the Bay Area, where it's not cold enough for lilacs and peonies. I don't miss winter, but I do miss some of the favorite blooms of my youth.

In turns out I also missed most of the lilacs: it was too late in the season, and too late in day for much fragrance from those few still left in bloom. But the iris and peonies were in full bloom. And, oh my, what peonies! I'd never seen yellow peonies before and these were enormous, luscious blooms, some with contrasting reddish centers. Beds and beds of peonies, in maroon, red, rose, coral, pink and white...peonies to die for!

In the rose garden, most of the hybrid teas still looked scraggly: clumps of leafed-out sticks with fat buds promising harlot blooms in another month or so. But my favorites -- the antiques and the David Austin roses -- were blooming. Austin's Mary Rose was pretty in pink, lush and fragrant, much better than she ever looked in my former garden in Tennessee, where blackspot and mildew took its toll.

After two hours of wandering through the gardens, I was footsore and weary and headed for the exit. On my way out, I asked a garden official in a passing golf cart for the location of the nearest recycling bin, so I could unload my soda bottle before heading to the Metro station. We chatted a moment, and I mentioned my disappointment at missing the lilacs. He asked if I'd seen the rhododendrons. No, I replied, they were a little too far out for me to walk to today. "I could get you there in five minutes," he said.

How could I refuse? It turned out that my "chauffeur," Pierre Paradise, is head of security at the garden. And he was right -- the rhodos were worth a trip.

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