I like flowers. I like plants. I like shrubs. But spending a few hours in a botanical garden isn’t quite my sliver of bark. It’s not something I’d choose to do unless it had something quirky about it. Taking the boat to Garnish Island in Bantry Bay off the coast of Cork was an experience. Visiting the Japanese Gardens in Kildare, a celebration of miniature, is something I’d do again. Visiting Victor’s Way in Roundwood Co. Wicklow is high on my list of things to do next time I’m home. But your run-of-the-mill botanical gardens? Give me a good book and I’ll wait for you. But I like cactuses (cacti) and I like light and sound shows, so when I got to put the two together, it was magical. Electric desert is a must-see.
The combination of ‘virtual reality, projection mapping, storytelling and soundscapes’ results in what’s billed as a ‘captivating, immersive sensory experience’. And Electric Desert is that and more. With seven separate installations, No. 2 transformed the plants into a seabed of anemones and eels, so real that I took a step back. No. 6 lights up the side of a mountain with the distinctive saguaro catcus playing a leading role. It was bitterly cold, perfect for hot chocolate and hot rum. Electic Desert runs from October 12 to May 12 at Desert Botanical Gardens from 6 to 10 pm.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West
Taliesin West was the winter home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Today, it’s home to the FLW Foundation and a School of Architecture. It’s a living testimony to his work. We rocked up thinking we might take a tour (I’m a fan) but they were booked out. There’s a lesson there. And at $35 per person, it ain’t exactly cheap. We had to make do with taking what photos we could from the sidelines, enough for me to add it to the list of things to do next time I’m in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. And given that I’ve found a new affinity for the city, I’ll be back.
Back in 1943, FLW described his home as a ‘look over the rim of the world’. The colours blend into the desert and the sprawling buildings look like they’ve come up out of the ground. An architect who insisted on capitalising the N in Nature, FLW had a respect and appreciation for the environment that is clearly evident at Taliesin. Three tours are available so you can fit to your schedule and interest.