When was the last time you heard a landscape architect say “I don’t do residential. I don’t do suburban. I work in degraded urban spaces.” Signe Nielsen opened her talk entitled “Optimistic Landscapes” for the NYBG Landscape Design Portfolio Series with that opening salvo. Nielsen spoke about 3 projects: Hunts Point Landing, The Lowline and Pier 55. If you have ever gone to the Hunts Point Market; you know it’s hard to navigate, ugly and on first glance has no livable space. […]
Once it was the property of a count who furnished candles to the Vatican; once it was the strategic headquarters of Garibaldi’s last stand against the French; finally it was gifted to the American Academy in Rome by Clara Jessup Heyland in 1909. The Villa Aurelia is large, romantic, diverse, historic and a hop, skip and a jump from AAR. I was lucky enough to go on a garden tour with Alessandra Vinciguerra, Bass Superintendent of Gardens at the American […]
…don’t go the Japanese Cultural Institute to see the Japanese Garden. It was the first garden made by a Japanese architect in Italy. This seemed like a reason to visit the garden. The most interesting aspect of the garden are the olive trees. These were planted as a symbol of friendship between Japan and Italy. We were told on the mandatory garden tour, that the Japanese government is sending a Japanese gardener to restore the garden. At the present time, an […]
Is there a greenhouse in a botanical garden that can claim 2 oval bardiglio marble bathtubs filled with plants came from Queen Christina of Sweden? The Rome Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico di Roma) has that honor. Queen Christina (1632-1689) became Queen at the age of six. She was referred to as the baby queen. Christina learned to ride, hunt and fence; she spoke 7 languages and in 1650 she invited Descartes to Stockholm, because she was interested in physics. She […]
To go or not to go was not the question. It was GO. The Perennial Plant Association Symposium is a different kind of conference. There is an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendliness, that I have not experienced at other meetings. This is the PPA’s unique niche. The schedule of events contains the usual days of talks complemented by exhaustive tours to private gardens; not estate gardens, but the backyard gardens of plant collectors and garden designers. There is a kind […]
Same old same old. Twice a day, I walk up and down the same three blocks on my way to the drug store, grocery store or parking my car. First day back from Iceland, I started reading On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation by Victoria Horowitz. It was the following sentences on page 3 that made me realize I was sleepwalking. ” In this book, I aimed to knock myself awake. I took that walk “around […]
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now From up and down and still somehow It’s cloud’s illusions I recall I really don’t know clouds at all. Judy Collins 1969 album “Clouds” In Iceland it feels like the clouds touch your head. There is so much openness and therefore so much sky. Even at the top of the highest waterfall, the clouds appear to meet the water. Clouds have turned into a kind of obsession these past two weeks.
I’ve experienced many different kinds of rifts, splits, breaks, breaches and failings. Rift takes on a new meaning when you viisit Pingvellir National Park (in English pronunced Thingvellir ) Iceland. The most dramatic or possibly the most unique aspect of the park is walking beside the tectonic plates between North America and Eurasia. Being dreadfully deficient when it comes to geology, a free tour by one of the park rangers, was the perfect opportunity to understand the landscape at Pingvellir. […]