Distracted by the beauty

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Park Drive North in Central Park. Photo: JH.

Thursday, November 19, 2020. Cold outside as I write this just before the midnight hour. 31 degrees with 26 degrees RealFeel. Yesterday got into the high 40s. It was sunny but it felt cold like almost-winter. That’s it for the terrace garden 2020. I brought in what could continue inside as best I can offer.

I’m sitting at my desk with the keyboard and Larry Lederman’s Garden Portraits; Experiences of Natural Beauty (The Monacelli Press) in front of me. The book came out last month. There was a Zoom piece starring Larry on it earlier this month which you may have seen.

Click to order Garden Portraits; Experiences of Natural Beauty.

The book is something else. I was sent a copy last month by the publisher. I know Larry and his wife Kitty Hawks. I wrote something here on the Diary about visiting them in Westchester awhile back. Larry has published five books on his work. I’m not a critic but his work is beautiful. I’m not knowledgeable or especially interested in books about gardens (although I have a few in my collection). However, Garden Portraits is, as I said, something else.

When I received it, I opened it immediately since I know Larry. I had no idea what he was referring to in the title, but was curious as a friend is. Well, it was odd. It was opening a door to rest not only your eyes but also your mind. It was comparable to a meditative experience. Really. I’m still awestruck by its power. Beauty is the word, and what it does to you.

I put it away after having a first good look, knowing I’d take it out again when I wrote it up. Which is now. And frankly, although I can’t at this hour, I’d rather go back to the book and spend the next hour looking.  They’re not really gardens to me but more the Art of Nature – which belongs to all of us, for it soothes as well as amazes. The artists are, of course, those who “create” it. 

There are sixteen gardens, all private (although some open to the public). For example, there’s “Hawks Nest,” which is the work of Kitty Hawks. There’s Brubeck Garden, created for Dave and Iola Brubeck in Wilton. It takes you away to another world.  There’s the Glimcher Garden on Long Island; again another world and stage for an artist. But it’s not names that impress, it’s the portraits of man’s application of nature in search of beauty and its certainty.

They are the gardens of a rich man or woman. One or the other is usually the leader. It is a talent for making choices but also a natural inclination with these people. Gardens are free illusions based on real Mother Nature’s qualities. Not a Garden follower, I’m always amazed at what I see. But Lederman’s beautiful photographs capture the essence of each particular “garden.” In examples, they reach beyond a garden into a “natural” epic.

I love this book. It’s a perfect gift for anybody, including those who may believe the subject is of no personal interest. It’s a trip. A restful, calming trip, covering the four seasons that bring us all back to the very basics in life.  And beautiful, just awesomely beautiful.

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