The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More on Balls

It snowed this morning. The edges of the garden were perfect and simple. I wonder if I want to disrupt this picture by adding more boxwoods. Today, until the show melts, the answer is not yet…..

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers

While I was in New York to hear fellow blogger Thomas Rainer's talk  "Designing with Native Plants" at the NYBG, I had the opportunity to visit The Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers with some gardening friends. The Untermyer Gardens are a 34 acre public park owned by the city of Yonkers that was once a 150 acre estate overlooking the Hudson River owned by a wealthy lawyer named Samuel Untermyer. Untermyer created one of the most celebrated gardens in the United States during the 1920's and 1930's. When Untermyer died in 1940, the gardens were left unattended until 1946 when the City of Yonkers acquired the parcel. Over the years, the gardens were not maintained and they became overgrown and the structure of the garden became a ruin. Recently, the Yonkers Parks Department with input from Marco Polo Stufano, founding Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill, The Untermyer Gardens are being rehabilitated and open to the public.

The central feature of The Untermyer Gardens is the Walled Garden, which gets its inspiration from the ancient gardens of Indo-Persia. The Walled Garden is divided into quadrants by waterways and was intended to mimic a paradise on earth.


Formal plantings in Persion-Inspired Garden Design

 The Open Air Amphitheater

 The Floor of the empty reflecting pool

Close up of a Sea Horse in the mosaic

The details of this wall were repeated in the wrought iron gate below.

The Vista Steps were inspired by the descending stairs at the Villa D'Este in Italy.

A massive tree branch added a modernistic structure along the Vista Steps.

At the base of the Vista Steps is the Overlook.  The two columns framing the view of the Hudson River and the Palisades are 2,000 year old monolithic Roman cipollino marble columns from the estate of Stanford White.

Columns of the former Rose Garden

A view of the Hudson River

                   The Gatehouse, now an abandoned ruin, and remnants of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Hidden from view of the Walled Garden is a folly called the Temple of Love.

 The Temple of Love was built by a Genoese stone mason named Charles Davite, whose body of work included the Paris Exposition, the St. Louis Exposition and at the Frick Museum.

The Temple of Love's stone work is best viewed from below.

The Temple of Love overlooks a magnificent view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. During the summer months, water courses down the waterfalls into the ponds below. The Untemyer Gardens are very much a romantic ruin. I'm not sure I want them to be brought completely back to their former "perfect" splendor.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Formal Balls: Revisiting the Original Concept

The drawing above is from the article in the Telegraph.

I found an article today about the Telegraph Garden for the 2014 Chelsea Flower Show. The designers are Tommaso del Buono and Paul Gazerwitz. They favor more formal gardens and their drawings for Chelsea are no exception. "The 2014 Telegraph garden combines some of the guiding principles of Italy’s great horticultural tradition but reinterpreted for a 21st-century design. Inspiration for the garden has come from revisiting the components traditionally found in celebrated historical Italian gardens, to create a bold and uncompromising modern garden."

This garden reminded me of my original idea about the terraces in my own garden. Charles Platt's work in Cornish, NH and Villa Gamberaia, outside Florence, had inspired me to consider a formal Italianate design approach. Now I am revisiting that idea.

Here is a photograph I took of the Lower Garden last fall with boxwoods drawn in a very simple, symmetrical and elegant way rather than the random arrangement in the last two posts. Ten years ago, this is the feel I was going for. My latest idea is that the Upper Garden has boxwoods artfully arranged and the Hall with Balls has a random placement. Maybe I could leave the Lower Garden more formal but add boxwood balls on the slope of the Woodland Garden below as if they were rolling down the hill there. There would be whimsy in the woodland but a more conservative approach here in the Lower Garden. I have some interesting some choices to consider and plenty of time to think about it before all the snow melts!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Playing More Ball

I have been contemplating the suggestions from my last post and have come up with a drawing of a possible arrangement of boxwoods.

The original design of the Lower Garden had a central panel of lawn flanked with rectangular borders with a very traditional granite bench focal point with a pair of symmetrical stewartias on either side. Two pairs of boxwoods are located at the two entrances to the garden: the Hall with Balls on the left and the Woodland Garden on the right. All very predictable and proper.

Last year, I added a third stewartia behind the bench on the right side. It created a trio of stewartias which is both symmetrical, if you look at the outer trees, but at the same time asymmetrical when a third smaller tree is added. I have been playing with that concept: symmetrical pairs on axis with a third repeated element added to make the symmetry less anal and more spontaneous.

Now back to this rolling balls/pinball wizard idea from the last post. The previous drawing had all the boxwoods in the borders, now the boxwoods are allowed into the central lawn. I think the structure will be appealing in the winter months, especially in the snow. The balls will make fun at all that perfect formality of the original design without disrespecting it. I like that vision.

Now for a reality check from my wife. She is my best, and sometimes most brutally honest, critic. She bristles when things get too "designery". She hates the glossy magazine layouts where everything is too perfect and kind of weird. She thinks they are trying way too hard. Her take on this idea is "I don't why he put a bunch of balls down there!" Maybe I am going a little overboard or maybe the next step is to determine if I like this idea enough to try and sell it.


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