Giverny is the home of Claude Monet, the famous impressionist painter who created giant canvases of The Water Lilies that can be found in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. Giverny is located in the town of Vernon, an hour train ride from Paris. At a bar, L’Arrivée de Giverny, near the train station in Vernon, you can rent bikes and ride along a bike path in the French countryside to Giverny. The gardens surround the pink and green house where Monet spent the last forty-three years of his life. The gardens are a riot of color, each section filled with different types of flowers all the same color. The pond with the water lilies and Japanese bridge was installed by Monet himself and served as his inspiration for his famous paintings. In the Springtime, Giverny is a photographer’s paradise as it is filled with tulips, azalea, rhododendron, and cherry blossoms.
When I long for the beauty of Giverny, I visit Filoli Gardens in Woodside, California, a fifty minute drive from San Fransisco. Filoli was built between 1915 and 1917 for William Bowers Bourn II. Bourn owned one of the richest gold mines and was president of Spring Valley Water Company, the company that originally supplied San Francisco’s water. The name “Filoli” is an acronym formed by combining the first two letters from the key words of William Bourn’s credo: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” Much of the gardens and the swimming pool area was designed by Isabella Worn, a woman who established her own garden and flower design business in San Francisco in 1888 called The Misses Worn. Springtime is also a spectacular time to visit Filoli. There is a field that is composed entirely of daffodils for as far as the eye can see. It reminds me of one of my favorite childhood poems by William Woodsworth, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. Tickets are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors (65 and older), $15 for students, teachers and military personnel, $11 for children (5-17) and free for children under the age of 5. I recommend buying your tickets in advance online, especially for busy days like Mother’s Day.
The Florida Keys hold many natural treasures with a day trip that will give you an introduction to the most fragile ecosystems in the world and many endangered species. This one focuses on the coral reef and mangrove island habitat, which are disappearing fast as development continues to put huge stresses on the limited natural and human resources