|A walk in the rain. 12:30 PM. Photo: JH.|
|Wednesday, November 23, 2011. Last night: a rainy night in New York on the night-before-the-night-before Thanksgiving. My cabdriver told me that people were already leaving the city for the holiday weekend, that the bridges were bumper to bumper, and it was a two hour ride to JFK (approximately double the usual time).
Thanksgiving, the holiday, begins to set in on the Monday before; you can feel the difference. Same feeling you had in school when you were a kid, or in college. It’s a long holiday weekend that always “is” since it’s always on a Thursday, and it marks the beginning of the holiday season and another year drawing to a close.
The cabbie also said that by this afternoon, the town will be empty. That’s a wild exaggeration. But here in borough of Manhattan, in the most affluent neighborhoods, people clear out.
|I was on my way to 72nd and Lex while taking this all in, going to Archivia to cover a booksigning. The place was crowded – I mean, you had to maneuver around – despite the heavy rains outside. New Yorkers like to stay home when it’s pouring. I went only to give a little support to Cynthia Conigliaro, Archivia’s proprietress. She was worried about the inclement weather too. And surprised at the big turnout. Lucky it was raining; they would have had to turn people away.
Tells you a little something about the book, Private Paradise; Contemporary American Gardens by Charlotte Frieze, the former garden editor at House & Garden. It’s definitely a hot one. What fascinates me about gardens – other than the obvious visual effects and designs – is the passion it evokes in people. You could see it last night in not only the line waiting for Charlotte to sign their books, but in the atmosphere of the room. Full serious enthusiasm.
|The window featuring Charlotte Frieze's Private Paradise at Archivia last night.|
|Umbrellas waiting outside for their owners.||People crowding in to buy the book.|
|On the left, the line of book buyers waiting for the author's personal inscription.|
|The book signing.|
|Kitty Hawks standing behind the author while she signs.||Charlotte Frieze's Private Paradise. Click to order or buy immediately at Archivia Books on 72nd and Lex. The perfect weekend house gift.|
|When I got home I went right to the book to see what was the big deal. This is not your typical garden book – although there is beauty and allure throughout. This is about the art of exterior design. You can see novels in them, all kinds, in the locales. This is not the Chelsea Flower Show ad infinitum.
Seeing interior designer Kitty Hawks having her book signed, I recalled how she’d told me a few years ago that she was completely devoted to her garden, that it was all she wanted to do all the time. I pictured Kitty padding about in her garden with its rows of posies, etc. with her shears and her spade.
|Kitty Hawks (and Larry Lederman's) private paradise. Planting the dam with grasses and forsythia enhances the view of the former reservoir from the house. The walk to the boathouse, the former sluice house, passes under trellises covered with wisteria and sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata).|
|Also Kitty: Looking through the pink cherry blossoms in April, bright yellow forsythia rules the dam. The ornamental grasses are not visible, having been cut back in March. Photographs Lawrence Lederman; Climate: USDA Hardiness Zone 6; Existing conditions: Rocky hillside with no flat surfaces, dense shade.|
|I did not know when I saw her getting her book signed that her “garden” is in it. Well, no padding about for Kitty. This garden is the big screen version; Cinerama brought to life. She’s taken over from van Gogh and Monet. She wasn’t kidding about her “devotion” obviously. This is a masterpiece, a vision.
Private Paradise is an interesting book for gardeners obviously, but for the non-gardeners like this writer, it is an eye-opener of what a garden can be. It is about the changing styles, the times and the movement of sensibility. These are obviously the gardens of the rich and wealthy (whether they’d admit it or not). They are emphatically luxurious. But it is nature’s luxury for a change, not the consumer’s; and you get the designers’ motives. The gardens are inspirational. It got me thinking about my own poor little basic New York apartment house terrace, and how it’s just waiting for some of this sensibility to take it in hand.
|New York penthouse: The interior living area seamlessly segues into the terrace. In the view from the living room, the outdoor furniture was designed to look well year-round. Architect/landscape architect: Sawyer/Berson; Photograph: Billy Cunningham; Climate USDA Hardiness Zone 7; Existing conditions: Full sun, wind.|
|Waves of native blue lupine (Lupinus sp.) in the meadow to the north of this house in Snake River, Wyoming. Photograph D. A. Horchner. Climate: USDA Hardiness Zone 3B; Existing conditions: Set in the Wyoming plains; rugged natural riparian landscape; view of the Grand Tetons; formerly a cattle ranch. Special conditions: Wind, snow, and dramatic fluctuations in hot and cold; limited plant palette due to Arctic cold fronts that sweep through in winter; warm but windy summers with a generous growing season.|
|Holiday time has come to Treillage on Lexington and 73rd, last night on my way home from Archivia.|
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