A couple weeks ago, my husband and I, along with my parents, spent a few days in Pennsylvania. Part of our trip included a visit to Longwood Gardens, our first time. I would love to go back, as it's impossible to see everything in one day. Besides, a visit in the early spring when the garden is just starting to wake up is a wholly different experience than a visit in the full glory of summer. Nonetheless, we had a great time, as it was a sunny 50F and they have wonderful greenhouses full of tropical plants. The orchids were truly splendid. And I saw fiddle leaf figs and split-leaf philodendrons that were two stories tall, a remarkable answer for when my garden center customers ask me how large their houseplants will ultimately grow ("well, do you think you'll still be caring for it in 50 or 100 years?"). Of course, I now wish that I had taken photos, but I have this habit of preferring to look at things directly instead of through the lens of a camera.
From their gift shop, I got a nice haul of gardening books:
I'm about halfway through The Ever Curious Gardener by Lee Reich. It reminds me a lot of How Plants Work by Linda Chalker-Scott, another fascinating read if you enjoy biology and myth-busting. I expect that What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz will continue in this vein. The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson is more of a history book, providing a glimpse of how seed-bearing plants have shaped humanity and vice versa.
I enjoy reading these sorts of books because they offer science-based answers to my mental list of lingering questions. You know, the kinds of questions that arise from everyday gardening that aren't easily answerable by a Google search. Through books like these, I'll find myself reading along and have that sudden exciting "a-ha!" moment that makes me exclaim out loud, "so that's why...it makes so much sense now!" And that makes me a better gardener and a better garden educator to others.
Next on my list of public gardens to visit is Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware. Of course my primary reason for wanting to go is to see their native plant collections...but I also hope that they have a gift shop that sells books.