the centerpiece of my sunday was visiting the secret gardens of cambridge, an "open-gardens day" sponsored by the friends of the cambridge library. in it's 3rd year, the event covers 35 gardens of various sizes and designs, all sprawled across cambridge. impossible to see all of them within a single day, in our official secret gardens handbook the regions are broken up into 6 areas to help us decide where we should go, bullets on a map revealing secret garden locations.

prior to our immersion into the world of secret gardens, we - laurie, her parents, and lucy - set out for brunch, because you can't go garden hopping on an empty stomach (everyone knows that). i arrived at laurie's parents' house at 11am (i was, of course, early and the first person there, as usual), then soon everyone else arrived. we went to the tokyo restaurant on fresh pond parkway, where they apparently have a buffet brunch. we got there early enough so that they weren't officially opened yet (11:45am is when they start), but they seated us anyway. once the buffet room was opened, nobody had to tell us twice to get our brunch on.
those who know me know that i am hard to impress, but i was thoroughly impressed with the selection at tokyo restaurant, a cross between chinese and japanese cuisine. traditional chinese breakfast food, dim sum, sushi, fresh fruits, plus a few surprises, like ginger and green tea ice cream. this place is worthy of a repeat visit.

with the task of feeding out of the way, we started visiting gardens. what surprised me about a lot of the gardens was how big there were. a lot of houses in cambridge, you wouldn't know from looking at the front of the house that behind it might lie a vast expanse of garden. and visiting gardens is a lot like going to open houses (something i have very first hand knowledge of), checking out the map, visiting a house, getting back into the car, repeat over and over. the only difference is instead of seeing the inside of a house, we're just seeing the outside. but like viewing open houses, even though you don't expect it, after a while you become physically tired from all that running around.

the weather today was gorgeous. it might've been too hot actually, but definitely beats rain if you're going to be outside all day, blue skies white clouds, probably in the 80's. earlier this morning before i left my house, it was still raining. it was a perfect day for gardens.

my favorite garden was actually the first one we saw, 108 holworthy street. i didn't think the front garden was too impressive, your standard well maintained raised flower garden (the giant onions were impressive, massive purple globes), but the backyard was this huge hidden expansion of a professional designed shade garden, all hostas and ferns and trees. it's like having a wilderness park in your backyard!

what impressed me most was the size (from the front of the house, i never expected to see a backyard this large) but also the trees. in most of your backyards, trees are relegated to the perimeters, but at this place, trees were main players in the design. the backyard wasn't very ostentatious, but it conveyed a mood, a sense of calm, an aura of naturalism, that i didn't find in other gardens. i think it's an example of doing more by doing less. they also had an "ornamental copper water tower, which drips onto bronze cymbals that send out delicate musical notes." it looked cool, but i think the sounds might drive a person crazy after a while.

after a while, the gardens started to look the same. everyone seems to be growing the same thing, just in different arrangement and numbers. peonies, roses, wisteria, irises of all varieties, poppies, ferns, hostas, clematises, and various other perennials and annuals. i like the gardens that try to incorporate water into the design, whether it's a small fountain, a little man-made pond, or in one case, an organically shaped below ground pool.

i also kept a watchful eye on strange insects that might be living in these gardens. alas, nothing significant to report. i did see this one weird specimen that sort of looked like a katydid but more colorful. i snapped a few photos and then tried to get it on my hand, where it then quickly hopped away. i also saw a click beetle, but those aren't anything special, i find them all the time in my own backyard.

some gardens had themes. the last one we saw had this cutesy south of the border theme, lots of mexican earthenware and pots shaped like animals. i can also remember one place that went with an asian theme, stone lanterns, buddha statue, wind chimes, bamboos. no garden gnomes though, where's that one kitschy garden? perhaps people who enjoy kitsch aren't big on gardening (or can't afford a place to have a garden at this point in time). note to self: get garden gnome for new backyard. i think it'd be cool to have a garden but do it up sanrio style, stone hello kitties, porcelain keroppis along the edge of a bubbling pool, garden chairs shaped like purin and badtz maru. i'm sure somebody in japan must've done this before.

the secret gardens of cambridge officially ended at 4pm. i went home totally exhausted, and what do i do? take a nap? watch tv? surf the web? read a book? no, i go out running. i want to get back into running shape again, i'm not going to kid myself anymore. instead of once a week, at least 3 times a week. it was sort of a bad day to run though, 5pm, late afternoon sun, feeling a headache from lack of water. but i ran nevertheless, paced myself, didn't push it, and got as far as two miles before i walked up watson road (a steep hill) and then the rest of the way home (another mile). i was overheating and figured i'd take it easy today, especially since i was already pretty exhausted from the garden tours. when i got home i immediately hit the shower, peeling off my sweat soaked t-shirt.

the rest of sunday i spent lazily, a little bit of the usual routines. 10 more days is what's on my mind. the smell of honeysuckle permeates my bedroom. nets lost again to the lakers, 0-3 now, and the red sox got swept by the diamondbacks, 0-3.