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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.


      Showing posts with label Japanese garden. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label Japanese garden. Show all posts

      Thursday, January 28, 2010

      THRILL OF THE CHILL, BROOKLYN STYLE

      Paper bush at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
      I often take children on treasure hunts through garden or woods. We search for what's in season, what's unusual, cool, or beautiful. We admire, photograph, sketch or gather, depending on where we are. We make fairy houses and other wondrous crafts with pods, cones, dropped leaves and petals.

      January 26th at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I was on my own, no child in tow. In the 'dead' of winter I wanted to find what was most alive and most appealing outdoors. Here are some treasures I discovered in just a tiny part of the BBG, on the walk from the #2 train to a meeting in the auditorium.

      Flowers
      Of course, Snowdrops. Not so unusual in January but a very pleasing reminder that spring is coming. Also a big container of pansies at the entrance on Eastern Parkway. A stand of green stinking hellebores mixed with the copper of faded fern stems, and sprays of hardy Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) displaying their yellow flowers. (below)Buds
      I swear I've never seen Paper bush before (Edgeworthia chrysantha, top image) but this shrub gathered a crowd of admirers, all gardening professionals. The "American Hort. Society Encyclopedia of Plants" shows pictures of this species with yellow flowers. So these must be the buds.
      Fattening up too are the buds of the Star Magnolia, one of the first to bloom in spring. Their flowers are often blackened by late frost so never a favorite in my own gardens.
      Fruit
      Last Fall's fruit still looking attractive are yellow and red-berried hollies.
      A little wrinkled but still vibrant are the fruits of a flowering crab (Malus 'Sugar Time')

      Leaves
      What looked like an
      evergreen Magnolia
      grandiflora
      was spark-
      ling in the sun. (I didn't
      dare hop over the fence
      to check the ID tag).

      The variegated leaves of
      the Kumazasa bamboo
      (Sasa veitchii) below,
      while not in peak con-
      dition, served their
      architectural function
      around the viewing
      platform of the Japan-
      ese Hill and Pond
      Garden.




      Bark
      Without the distraction of flowers, I found lots of bark treasures, in particular two varieties of Crape-myrtle. The bark is so smooth it seems like a sanding machine has just completed its work.Whenever I'm in a special garden I'm looking for stuff that I can plant at home. One of the great treasures found on this hunt is a stand of Black Bamboo (Phyllostchys nigra), so called because of the shiny black stems of the mature plant. I actually do use it on my roof garden in a 30" pot. It's very successful for its conditions but will never compare to this magnificent specimen. Note how it's planted at the BBG isolated by a swath of driveway. Someone must have measured the longest possible root creep and decided it's safe.

      Wednesday, January 20, 2010

      OH MY, MOMA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

      On Dec. 14th, 2009 I announced my Big Apple Roof Awards for 2009 in this blog.


      Now my pick for least favorite: the roof garden at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.


      What, you didn’t even know MOMA has a roof garden? You’ve been to the Museum many times and never seen mention of it? You are a great fan of the MOMA sculpture garden and would love to see the roof?


      Well you can’t. Not even if you pay admission. This “garden” is meant to be seen from neighboring windows, those that are higher than the 10th floor, so if you rent a room at the Warwick Hotel facing 54th St. or have an apartment at the Museum towers, or an office overlooking the Taniguchi building, you’ll be able to see the plastic boxwood-like things in all their glory. Oh yes, there are stones in patterns and some rocks too.

      Apparently MOMA didn’t want anyone to be able to walk out on the “garden”, didn’t want any water leaking on the art work on floors below, didn’t want any upkeep costs. MOMA did want to placate neighbors who questioned expansion of the Museum. But if they really wanted to be a good neighbor, why would they leave their trash pile exposed on 54th St. for all of those neighbors to see every day.

      This “garden” has been cited by the American Society of Landscape Architects with an Honor Award. The project statement refers to its ‘wit and irony’. Where they see wit, I see humorless, fake; where they see ‘irony’ I see insult and missed opportunity. I woke up this morning realizing that this design reminded me of the miniature golf courses of my girlhood.The ASLN award compares the MOMA rooftop to Japanese dry Zen gardens. I’ve been to many Zen gardens both in the US and Japan, and find them invariably delightful, serene places to stroll, contemplate, or enjoy from afar. Thinking of what MOMA might have done and didn’t, makes my blood boil.



      Before I saw the roof I called on all of my scientific training to wait until I saw it myself. I was trying so hard to keep an open mind. Go see for yourself, provided you have a friend or acquaintance on a high floor overlooking 54th St. Don’t expect to be able to look just by paying your $20 admission to MOMA.


      Many thanks to dear friend Leah G. who gave me access to her building’s roof for my viewing and telephoto lens.

      The Portland Japanese Garden (OR)

      A rock garden labyrinth at the Lodge at Sedona (AZ)


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