Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hydrangeas, Hydrangeas, Hydrangeas

Cold places are often surprising sources of great plants.  In a visit to various nurseries in the Rochester area I found a great selection of conifers but little else of consequence.  My friend took me to one of the largest nurseries and it seemed it would have a great selection.  In fact there were a few choices of Lilacs.  This, is in the city that has one of the greatest Lilac gardens around.  I was disappointed by the overall selection that I saw in these nurseries.  The prices were also rather on the steep end of the curve.  I suspect that with a short growing season and  high fuel costs to keep plants available, it is not surprising to find high prices, which by the way, the locals did not seem to mind but at the same time they were shopping in the sale plant area.  I found great tropicals and at reasonable prices which made no sense.  When I thought that the trip to these nurseries was a waste I was taken to a not so fancy nursery on the southeast side of town which proved to be incredibly exciting.   At first I thought I was at a nursery I expected I knew but this was also not the case.  Wayside Garden Center is located in Macedon New York and Wayside Gardens, the name for the catalogue house is based in South Carolina.   I suspect this nursery existed before the catalogue house or something like that, as it has not been challenged by the catalogue house for name infringement.  Regardless, the nursery was quite a gem.  There were unusual plants of all manner.  The owner is a fellow that has a passion for Hydrangeas and boy does he provide the public with the greatest collection of these plants I have ever seen.

there are every type of hydrangea imaginable:  climbers, trees, shrubs

Many plants have been tested for the region and display all manner of growing conditions or preferences

As you can see there are a few to choose from and this is just a small sampling of the
hundreds of plants and varieties they stock. I could not even begin to write down 
the names.  What is great about hydrangeas is that they can go from really cold 
climes to warm weather ones for Florida.  There are just a few to fit any garden.
I like the simple flowers that open, it appears, one at a time. 

My friends both purchased plants for their respective gardens and stuffed them into
a small car with the three of us.  It was a cozy ride home. Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rochester's Massaro Sculpture Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright's restored Boynton House

a clean crescent and plants gives signs of more to investigate

Driving down Canterbury Road in Rochester you might notice elements that simply do not flow within the traditional register of the neighboring houses.  Located at the corner of Canterbury and Harvard, Massaro Studios and Sculpture gardens allows whimsy and art to blend in a very calm and effective manner.   Whether it is a row of curving bricks and plantings on the parkway planting strip to simple stacked wood traditionally seen in high-brow artist such as Goldsworthy, the assemblage here is fun and allows all to see what can be done with a little sense of adventure.

Vincent Massaro has been doing at it since the early 1990's  and he describes it more as the process of making art in public spaces rather than putting objects for display.  A brief meeting and chat this day revealed your typical neighbor taking care of his yard.  But this is not just any yard.  Enjoy the following images mixing found objects with detritus that create new objects and change in time to be replaced with new.  Rochester has registered his efforts in a Landmark, monument  and memorial website

Hard to grow trees on perimeter walls, not these!  Artificial trees provide perfect effect in otherwise natural garden while providing screen to private garden

Branches from dead cedars create entry totems.  Lath and rebar boulders allude to Glacial landscape of northern New York

Gargoyle lurks inside pergola of twigs and branches

Sitting on perimeter wall this sculpture provides a point of view to those in or out of the garden

Another mesh fashioned bolder helms the prow of this garden

Not far from the Massaro Studios on East Boulevard is this very modern and 104 year old house.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) in 1908 this Prairie House is his easternmost success.  Two years ago I first saw it it was shrouded in vegetation and scaffolding starting its renovation.  In an unusual arrangement the Landmark Society purchased the house and sold it to an individual with some architectural covenants protecting the future of the house.  The house has regained its front outdoor terrace that had been enclosed very early on.  It is good to know that this house will remain a residence rather than following the trend of these important architectural houses to become house museums and the such. 

The house, however, has been stripped of its vegetation that was originally designed by FLW that consisted of elms, most of which had died due to Dutch elm Disease.  Regardless, the approach to take and strip away the landscape of Frank Lloyd Wright house is not unusual.  The houses are regarded as some kind of Faberge eggs that must be objectified forgetting context and original intent.  
Library of Congress, Historic American Building Survey Pictures taken during the winter of 1968 by Hans Padelt shows front porch terrace filled in.

Years ago, I worked documenting the landscape of FLW's opus, Fallingwater as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.  Many of the existing trees that had marked the architectural weaving and rhythms that FLW used to articulate the structure had fallen prey to gypsy moth and age.  Rather than replace them to maintain the context the powers that be chose, at that point, to strip away all potential hazards to the house slowly removing some of the aspect of its wooded location.  I commented on a report that at the rate they were protecting the house they would soon be able to call it a prairie house if they did not alter their course of protection.  Needless to say, that comment was not well received, but it may have altered a course that had been followed in regards to the landscape.

The Double Dining South Facing Windows with hundred of Art Glass

The black and white photographs are from the initial documentations by the American Building Survey of the property.  Check it out.  It has an eleven page report that briefly describes conditions of property and landscape records.

1968 Living Room

1968 Carpeted Double Dining room
Landmark Society Photograph showing restored Double Dining Room

Back at my friends house, not far away from those two very different homes another style beckons.  Here a wonderful 1912 house is slowly being restored.  My friends, New Yorkers for NYC have found a dream home in a lovely neighborhood called Upper Monroe.  Being apartment dwellers for most of their adult lives they have taken on vegetable gardening with a great passion.  Their not so small patch next to the old carriage house is producing bumper crops of heirloom tomatoes, zucchini,  strawberries, onions, garlic, cucumbers, eggplants and peppers.  Some of the finest tomatoes we sampled in a great gazpacho.  Here many more tomatoes are bound for bottling for soon the winter snows will reclaim this entire backyard global warming not withstanding.  Happy Gardening.

Monday, August 6, 2012

More Philadelphia...Naval Shipyard

Philadelphia is a wonderful colonial city that grew and, as you saw from the prior blog, has a new modern face.  When you walk the neighborhoods you face the reality of the varying styles of small to luxury row houses and historic to modern skyscrapers.  Depending on neighborhood you can see a wonderful assortment of styles and devotion to the Federal/Colonial idiom.  

Some of the more famous buildings are classical reproductions of Beaux Arts styling straight from  Paris.  Philadelphians are an odd lot and depending who you talk to you can get a wonderful sense of regional accents and local pride.  Many insist that Philadelphia is very much like Paris because of its greatest Boulevard:  The Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  This great boulevard  was designed in the 1930's by French Jacques Greber and Paul Cret who created a modern landscape and urban plan for the city cutting  a diagonal swath across the old Quaker grid.  

The city built its cultural institutions along the Parkway.  Among these is the  Rodin Museum with an extensive collection of bronzes  most famous includes the Thinker above and the Gates of Hell behind the scaffolding below undergoing cleaning.  The whole museum has had a face lift as it sits across the street from the new Barnes Museum.   

Lavender Ringed reflecting pond of Rodin Courtyard

In another corner of the city, a project that was conceived while I was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania is in full swing.  The Philadelphia Shipyard dating from revolutionary times is a huge swath of land.  As students we did comparison studies and placed all of Rome and other European capitals  within its boundaries to demonstrate how large it is.  This once derelict and rusting heap of naval technology has been undergoing a transformation into a Corporate park with phases for housing just beginning.  

One of the earliest pioneers into the Shipyard was the firm of Urban Outfitters which strangely was once a single outlet store also at U of P catering to students.  The firm now consists 400 stores represented by five brands including Anthropologie.

Outdoor benches anchored by the broken asphalt, no doubt removed when making the plantings.
The corporate campus consists of approximately a dozen buildings that have been restored where the entire corporation designs and manages the empire.  They have taken a wonderful industrial approach to design based in part on their own corporate product signature.  The following are some examples what they have done.  We went to visit after my friend Vori who designs stores was working in another venture in a neighboring part of this Shipyard City.

The campus is so extensive that bikes are available to use to get around

Anchored garden letters spell URBAN in old dry dock used to build ships like USS Forestall aircraft carrier mothballed into part of Shipyard still in Naval control
Old industrial building hall serves as restaurant overlooking USS Forestall and Kitty Hawk
In another part a Cafe serves food and corporate teams sit in meetings
The chiller plant that provides heating and air conditioning to the complex has a gym on its upper deck.
Once acid baths to clean ship and submarine propellers now house coi ponds along the central hall

Following a serene Asian theme tree trunk slabs held together by metal strapping serve as benches in front of tree bamboo interior forest
New pop art graphics with ship ropes and anchor chains serve as interior sculptures

My friend Vori arranged for me to stay in his ground floor apartment which resembles a stateroom on a luxury liner.  He has decorated with ship motifs and art deco appointments.  Limo enjoyed darting after his cat and running up and down stairs once again.  It has been wonderful staying there and catching up with Philadelphia and friends but it was time to move on to more places and adventure.  Happy Gardening.