Imagination Makes Us All Bigger

Written by Beth Weir

Having just returned from visiting Slovenia and Croatia I am still in the afterglow of the trip. For New World travelers such as myself, the marvel of the European experience is to see that life with all its woes, wars, art making, gardening and pleasures has existed in many places for centuries. And visitors are the beneficiaries of the joyful imagination expressed, in all its forms, over time.

In Split, Croatia we stayed in a hotel in the middle of Diocletian’s Palace. Diocletian was a Roman emperor who ruled along the Adriatic Coast at the turn of the 4th century for twenty years and then retired. His act was unusual for the times but he was a man of great imagination. It was strange and magical to wonder how many souls have slept in the room where we were sleeping.

In another adventure my party ate dinner one night in an obscure little town called Kobarid in the Slovenian Soća Valley. What pulled us to the restaurant, Hiša Franko is that it is run by one of the top fifty chefs in the world, Ana Ros. Ros has reimagined the local cuisine into superlative dishes and tastes and for that has received considerable recognition for her efforts.

Having been animated about the power of imagination in my travels, I was delighted to return home to find Dunn Gardens is taking up the theme of thinking beyond boundaries. Two talks are on the horizon about individuals with large imaginations about gardens that elevate us all. And continue to do so.

As part of the ‘Books and Beer’ series Jennifer Ott will be reading from her newly released book titled ‘Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City.’ The title is explanatory and it hints at the forces that created our city’s necklace of green spaces. The park system in Seattle grew out of the imagination of both the Olmsted Brother’s Landscaping Firm and the city leaders. Citizens have been the beneficiaries of this happy marriage since the turn of the 20th century. Jennifer is a fine author and her talk will be of great interest to even nongardeners. And, of course, I cannot leave this subject without noting the Olmsted Brothers designed Dunn Gardens at the same time they were shaping the city.

A consideration of the critically imaginative Olmsted Brothers will be followed by a talk offered by Bryn Homsy on ‘The Arcadian Amateurs’.’ These were men who developed British gardens: Rousham, Painshill and Stourhead after undertaking the standard grand tours of the aristocracy around Europe. Bryn’s talk will also bring together a description of all the political and cultural aspects of life that enabled these gardens to be established. And I cannot leave this topic without noting that Bryn is my immediate neighbor and a lively individual. You will enjoy her well documented presentation very much.

On returning home from the airport I noticed the leaves are beginning to change. Mother Nature has a great imagination too. Come and celebrate that at the Fall Foliage Festival. After all, encountering anything infused with a broad, expansive spirit can only make you feel good.