New York Botanical Garden

Photog's log:

10 a.m. on a Sunday

It's a green gem in the middle of one of the world's most densely populated places and obviously well loved. I look around at the people walking in with me: Everyone is smiling even before they step through the gates.

Above: All right! No lawn around trees' trunks. The trees don't have to fight with that top-dog plant -- bluegrass -- for water that falls there.

Below: In the herb garden the smells make me hungry. (Hmmm. Did I eat breakfast? Does you forget things like that, too, when you're focused on getting out into or out to a garden?) Nothing like a hot dry summer to bring out the best in Mediterranean plants like bay, rosemary and lavender.

Details, such a glory of them! The rounded form
of the pot with the round clumps of hosta and hydrangea... and the connection between pot color and the markings on the alstroemeria!

It's got to be expensive to maintain a structure like the Victorian-style Haupt Conservatory. Thank goodness for public gardens where users essentially chip in to keep up what none of us could on our own.

We've been pooh-poohed for growing plume poppy (Macleaya cordata), with comments such as, "Why do you grow such an invasive thing?!" It's great to see it here and know we're in good company as we find uses for it that compensate us for the effort of containing it. We like its stature (6', sometimes more) and dramatic foliage (big and gray green with a near-white underside that shows itself in any breeze). The large off-white plumes and salmon-cream seed pods that follow are a bonus.

Green walls or "vertical gardens" have recently become a feature in architecture and interior design. (There are many "systems" for sale now, but we think people should look first at how it's done at NYBG and other public gardens, or get information from those who are not out to sell us something, such as Phil and Vicki Yates...) Hah, as if conservatories haven't been doing them for centuries -- vertical surfaces covered with epiphytes such as Platycerium ferns (a group that includes the antler-like staghorn- and elkhorn ferns; below). I feel and breathe in the cool, moist air as I pass them.

The Home Gardening Center models super-productive beds and techniques for gardeners with very little room.

I overhear someone saying "There's a new idea, an apple tree on a wall!" But it's not new. City gardeners have been growing fruit via espalier for thousands of years. It's a technique as old as the need to bring essential food production into the safety of a fort or walled compound.

Above: Argh! It is so hard to be a hydrangea-challenged Midwesterner on tour during the blooming season of the lacecap- and mophead. (Hydrangea serrata, H. macrophylla and their hybrids)

 

Right: It really is true that where there are a great number of nifty plants, the non-plants become the focal points. When they work together, it's outstanding. These terra cotta pots seem even larger than they are because they pick up the brick color and acquire more visual weight.

Right: The Rock Garden Cascade, looks so natural... but the water falls over rocks carefully placed by hand in the 1930's.

 

 

 

 

Below: One of my joys in traveling is to see big trees! On the NYBG grounds is a 50 acre remnant of old growth forest. It's a place to imagine Jonas Bronck's reaction to this area that memorializes his name and was then solid forest. He was one of the first transplants to this area, and came from a Europe that was lumbering itself bare. Not such a far cry from many city folk today, who might live a lifetime without any woodland connection.

Kudos, NYBG, for all you do to live up to your charter, which includes "...the advancement of botanical science and knowledge, and... the entertainment, recreation and instruction of the people." To the NYBG website.

So many pleasant places to walk in 250 acres. One day when Janet and I walk together here, then this notebook as well as my photo files will really be bursting.

I'll hope we can do that on a day with high clouds to mute the light. For now, the sun's moved high in the clear sky and the light's become harsh. The camera (and I) have to work too hard to avoid capturing only a confusion of bright spots and dark shadows. So I'll move on.