Mountain climbers have it easy. Their targets of conquest are objectively defined: simply find the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents and go for it. There’s no debate about height.

For gardeners with a taste for adventure, it’s not quite so simple. Sure we could pick our targets based on sheer size, but that would eliminate some of the smaller garden gems out there. Bottom line: scaling the garden walls of the most impressive gardens this planet has to offer makes for a futile, subjective but entertaining debate. Your junk is my treasure. Your garden K2 is my Mount Trashmore (a pathetic local sledding mount made of garbage.)

Wow! A hidden garden ‘find’ and I’m delirious with joy…

The only hard and fast rule I have for selecting my Seven Summits of Garden Conquest is that I’m left breathless when I’m done. I’m talking adrenalin-shot-to-the-rear kind of stuff. I want to be carted away in exhaustion from sensory overload. I want to need CPR from huffing too much intoxicating and rarefied garden air. I want to hallucinate to the point where I think I’m “joined” on my journey by my personal dream team of garden greats–Edith Wharton, John Brookes, Emily Whaley, Claude Monet, Piet Oudolf, Ganna Walska, Jens Jensen–what a rush that would be–a marauding garden party like none other!

Certainly there are the obvious garden walls to scale before one goes: Versailles, Giverny, Biltmore, Yuyuan, Longwood–all garden Mecca to be sure. But what I’m really after are the undiscovered, off-the-beaten-path gardens–nirvanas waiting to be appreciated. I’m less interested in the showy public follies that resemble the spoiled summit of Mount Everest– strewn with hordes of candy wrappers and spent water bottles. I’m looking for the proverbial and pristine hidden gardens of the world.

Even while holding down the fort with three kids over the past many years, I’ve still managed to visit my share of great gardens. But, in many ways, my garden hopping is just about to begin–I’ll soon be an empty-nester ready to bust loose and get going on my ever-evolving water bucket list of gardens to see before I pack up my hoe and call it quits. To help me keep track I’ve started a new Pinterest page. Check out my Seven Summits board, and feel free to add your suggestions and keep an eye out as I add (and subtract) garden discoveries. I have a feeling we will all visit way more than seven “best” before we’re done–and just think of all the fun we’ll have getting there!

Check out this great Pinterest board: Seven Summits [link to:]