Monthly Archives - August, 2010
Garden Guide: New York City on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show!

"Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry, co-authors of Garden Guide: New York City, discuss how the city has greened over the past 10 years - and your role in it. They also take us through some of their local favorites."

-- from WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show: Your Community Gardens: A Guide

Garden Guide: New York City on NY1

Garden Guide: New York City was featured on NY1 earlier this month! Click to see the feature: How To Take Advantage Of City's Public Gardens, with Shelley Goldberg.

St. John the Divine

 
 
It is naïve to expect a garden to remain the same over the years; visitors have to accept changes to a garden if it is to remain vibrant. But the removal of Keith Corlett's jewel-like mosaic medallion from the central floor of the Biblical Garden at St. John the Divine is sad for those of us who admired the work of the late garden designer, who refurbished the Biblical Garden in 2001 as a labor of love, and designed and installed the mosaics himself. His gothic-inspired gateway and arbors are still there, as are remnants of the entrance mosaics, but his legacy is sadly much diminished.
 
Corlett, who died in 2004, was an immensely talented garden designer responsible for many of New York’s most romantic and well-planted private terraces.  He had a special affinity for the Renaissance and designed and installed a mosaic version of the Metropolitan Museum’s Studiolo in a friend’s garden in Harlem as well as this garden at St John the Divine.  
 
The good news is that the mosaics, which had deteriorated badly, have been replaced by a very nice stone fountain that ironically looks quite correct, if less colorful than Corlett’s mosaics.  Stone carver Chris Pellettieri, who has fashioned several works for the Cathedral and has a work area on the grounds, created the simple shape, inspired by traditional forms and motifs. The sound of gently falling water does add appreciably to the biblical ambiance. 
 
The garden, with Jimmy the peacock still in residence, looks otherwise quite spiffy, if a little less biblical. The inner box beds are bedded out with what looks like salvia Victoria Blue, which does a great job staying perky all summer, but seems more like a a Wal-Mart special, than a salvia which might be found in the holy land thousands of years ago.
Heather Garden, Fort Tryon Park

The Heather Garden at Fort Tryon Park, long the Cinderella of the city’s public gardens, is finally really going to the ball. On the occasion of the park’s 75th Anniversary David Rockefeller has donated a million dollars to Fort Tryon Park Trust, which is working hard to keep the park, located next to the Cloisters in Northern Manhattan, in good condition.  Lynden Miller is working on a “framework plan” to ensure that the magnificent but labor-intensive, 300 -ft. borders remain vibrant for the next 75 years.  The huge borders, last restored in the 1980s present a maintenance challenge; keeping the shrub and perennial plantings in proportion requires skill and a lot of manpower, and while the garden has sometimes had the skill it has rarely had the manpower. 
 
The upper border has been renovated and was completed for the June 15th announcement party for the Rockefeller gift, which was feted with fireworks. Miller has adjusted the proportions and reintroduced rhythm to the borders. Her style is usually distinctive, but here the immensely knowledgeable Miller has used her skills to burnish the original design, tightening a composition here, repeating certain elements there, which has had the happy result of giving us the Olmsted brothers--genuinely improved!