Monday, June 4, 2018

New York in Bloom

A wedding photo shoot in the East Meadow of Central Park. Photo: JH.
Monday, June 4, 2018, This past Friday was sunny and hot in New York, up in the 80s and muggy. In the evening there was a spritz and it cooled down into the 60s. Saturday was sunny and very warm, but then in the later afternoon, it got overcast, comfortably cooler, again in high 60s low 70s. And then after a late night rain, Sunday was overcast and decidedly cooler.

As I write this, late evening, it’s dropped to the high 50s. I detail these changes not but because it sometimes seems as if our entire weather system has “changed” in the sense that you-never-know what’s next.

The city was dead over the Memorial Day 3-day weekend, but this past weekend, traffic was heavy and people were out. There were street fairs along Park Avenue South in the downtown lanes, as well as on Second Avenue in the 80s. And on Sunday there was some kind of parade on Fifth. To this denizen, they all added up to it being difficult to get around. I prefer it when everyone goes away and the streets are empty. You would too.
Tulips for the taking last Friday on 80th Street right marking the end of the 2018 Park Avenue Tulip Dig.
For me, the weekend was about getting my annual “garden” together. One of the things I miss about living in Los Angeles was the abundance of plants and flowers that just seemed to grow anywhere there was available earth. The house I lived in had very little land and the “backyard” was mainly the pool but with a back wall and lattice of bougainvillea and a wandering vine of jasmine. Outside the door of my workroom a gardenia plant was in blossom, sending its perfumes wafting through the screen door. I hadn’t planted any of them, they were just there, left by the previous tenant or owner.

My consciousness about the flora in my life expanded from that experience. I recall as a kid watching my mother looking over her little flower garden with a far more intense interest than when she worked in the vegetable garden, which was ample (and work). I always wondered what she was looking at? Flowers? So?
The Fund For Park Avenue team planting the Dragon Wing begonias.
The begonias that now line the avenue.
My apartment has a small terrace (some call it balcony). It’s about eight-by-ten (I’ve never measured it). I like it because it allows me to open my door to the warmer weather. It’s a substitution for living in a house, and I appreciate it. In Summertime I put out some plants I keep in the apartment throughout winter weather. I also add some potato plants that grow a lot of leaves, and the impatiens.

I learned about impatiens which are used for ground covering throughout the hills of Beverly and elsewhere in L.A. They’re hardy and require only some moisture, and they thrive as long as the weather permits. Last year, they were still blooming, as you can see in this photo I took in October.
Saturday afternoon I drove down to the flower district on 28th Street west of Broadway. Horrible traffic, exacerbated greatly by all the Rube Goldberg street alterations created by the past two mayors. Broadway at Herald Square, immortalized in the early 20th century by George M. Cohan, is now funked up into some kind of shopping mall-ish whatever. And a tricky place to get around in this great big metropolis. I could go on about it, as I do sometimes when I’m maneuvering the buggy about Manhattan. But I won’t.
More plantings at the ready along the avenue.
These (artificial) beauties are hanging off Cafe Grazi on Madison Avenue and 84th Street.
JH even noticed this blooming mushroom patch along Fifth Avenue.
I finally got to the spot where there wasn’t a car on 28th between 7th and 8th, and I picked out goods: some impatiens, coupla of crotons (year round), a fern, the potato plants. Five minutes. Hundred thirty bucks.  Done. They wrapped them up beautifully in large paper shopping bags; put them in the jalopy. Put the top down to drive up Park Avenue South, around the Grand Central Terminal and the old Commodore and himself, up Park and home. An hour and thirty minutes for all of my complaining (to myself while driving along).

That was Saturday. The terrace was already askew with pots and planters waiting for their wards. My A/C has been sitting there since last Fall and is about ready to return to its awkward location in one of my living room’s three windows. (I’m not an A/C fan although I’ll admit there are moments when it is nice.).
The Terrace Saturday afternoon having returned from the flower district with this season's "garden."
Sunday morning I awoke — in fact I went to bed Saturday night thinking — I’ll have to reorganize the terrace and plant the plants in the afternoon. Fortunately it was a nice cool day. I didn’t have enough “dirt” on hand so I had to go to the hardware store — Wankels on 88th and Third. I love hardware stores. Hardware stores and bookstores can always draw me in. Wankels is one of those — narrow shopping aisles because they’ve got So Much Stuff you can need and buy. I was in a hurry however.

Back to my apartment, I got to work planting and organizing the “garden.” I ran out of dirt and had to go back to Wankels as well as pick up a few more pots. I’m still a few pots short, but we’re back in business.  I go and look at it three, four maybe even five times a day and/or night, when I get up from my desk, or when I get up in the morning, or when I return home. I love to watch it all grow. I know longer wonder why Tillie would look at her flowers that way. It’s another form of love. Of life.
The terrace back in business.
The language of flowers, cont. On Memorial Day JH stopped by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial along Riverside Drive at West 89th Street. He makes a habit of stopping by every Memorial Day to take in the gleaming Corinthian columns and richly carved ornament of eagles and cartouches, commemorating the various New Yorkers who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

Last week when he arrived he soon noticed that the monument is in need of restoration work. As a safety measure, it is now surrounded by a fence. NYC Parks is currently working to obtain the funding needed to restore it.

In 1900, Governor Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone and the monument was dedicated on Memorial day in 1902. To this day it is the site of an annual Memorial Day ceremony.
Coming upon the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial on 89th and Riverside.
On Memorial Day 1902 (then called ‘Decoration Day’), the monument was unveiled following a parade of Civil War veterans up Riverside Drive to the site. For many years the project was delayed because the City could not agree on a site for the monument. The initial location at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street was vetoed by the newly formed Municipal Art Society, followed by a host of other suggestions – Union Square and the Battery among them – each one supported by their own loyal factions and reasons. Eventually it was sited along the axis of Riverside Drive, looking south and out toward the Hudson River.

In the early 1960’s, the City spent over $1 million in extensive repairs to the monument, including a new roof.
Now over fifty years later, it awaits funding to repair loosened joints, chipped stone, and the damage generally wrought by time if not vandalism.
Each year on Memorial Day, over a dozen veterans, heritage and patriotic organizations laid wreaths at the Monument, including American Legion, Navy League, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the Revolution, Jewish War Veterans, and Montford Point Marines. Here's this year's collection of wreaths.
Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Association.
NY County American Legion.
Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York.
The 79th New York Volunteer Infantry  & New York Caledonian Club.
New York City Chapter, NSDAR.
NSDAR Manhattan Chapter.
The American WWII Orphans Network.
National Montford Point Marine Association.
Col. Charles YOUNG POST 398.
Veterans of the 77th Regiment.
Navy League NY County.
Jewish War Veterans.
Grant Monument Association.
Old Guard of The City of NY.
FourBlock Foundation.

Contact DPC here.