Thursday, June 24, 2010

What is a garden?

1st Place, Carroll Gardens. It's a windowbox. I get it.

Hicks Street, Brooklyn Heights. Phone-pruning. Still on familiar territory.

Above, the other end of my street, Henry Street in Carroll Gardens. Someone has high hopes for these boxwoods. The pots are enormous. Clearly a love of variegation going on here. I wonder what I would have thought if, when I first watched Moonstruck, still one of my favourite movies, I'd been told, One day you'll live it that neighbourhood...this is near the bakery where Nick Cage threw bread! bread! bread! into the oven.

2nd Place. The pebbly beach effect. Well, it's weed-free, low maintenance and it glows in the dark. Note conspicuous expanses of mulch between plants.

2nd Place. My favourite. Red mulch like sands in the desert, a prickly plant to add the Palm Springs touch, a pruned juniper to let everyone know that this area has been Landscaped, and actual fish swimming round around inside the stacked stones.

Begonia fountain! Also on 2nd Place. Remember the quotation about begonias being a state of mind, and a regrettable state at that? I think this is what Beverley Nichols meant. But it's an awfully nice lawn.

There is nothing ironic about these flamingoes or the host of gnomes on the other side of the centre tree. It's like the artichoke dip on Grouse Mountain in Vancouver: they mean it.

Very rich pickings along the Places in Carroll Gardens. A lot of Italian inhabitants, still. There's even an old mafia hang-out eating house on Court Street. But the days of flavour are numbered. Good taste will arrive and wipe differences away.

Of course, the title of this post should really be, What is beautiful? Or, What does a garden mean: To you, her, him, them, me? I am genuinely interested in the red mulch/koi pond landscape. Because that's what it is. Says so loud and clear. I'd like to talk to the flamingo people.

Maybe I will...


  1. Asking that question, you would love Britain, Marie! So many different forms of multi-coloured self-expression, so many begonias, Busy Lizzies, petunias!

  2. Just so you know, I'm in love with your blog. I come here every day and vicariously live the sophisticated urbanite, cats-and-drinks-on-the-patio life for a few minutes. Keep it up! :)

  3. Secretly, I love the flamingos. Would really like ONE for my [back] garden. Ok, I would be embarrassed for the world to know I had one - sort of a hidden [forbidden] pleasure.

    What always gets me is that people love plants; at least plant people love plants, and will do what it takes to have a living green thing close at hand. That's part of what I love about your blog. To enjoy them enough to carry everything up to your terrace - and now your roof - is so cool.

    When I retire and live in a little house with a little yard, I hope to be as inspired and have a huge garden.

  4. Funny snapshots of self expression through plants and landscaping. Whatever the taste value, those gardens are reflective of very strong points of view.
    (you should really go talk to those people and post about it)

  5. At least the plastic lawn ornaments are low-maintenance? :)

  6. Any garden of nurtured plants speaks volumes over the rotting garbage and dead weeds, doesn't it? And it would be interesting to learn why your neighbours made the choices they did.

  7. At least they're making an effort. It wouldn't occur to me to walk my neighborhood and make fun of other people's gardens. Interesting hobby.....

  8. rachel - I'd love to visit properly. My time there has always been brief, and in the south.

    Tzipporah - tickles me pink -thank you :-)

    webb - lol. I know, they are kind of compelling. I'd really like to get into their social history.

    Lambert - if I summon up my courage, such as it is, I will. So's the mulch, and I guess that's the point, there.

    mit - working on it :-)

    bonnie - I suppose I could walk from A to B with my eyes and mind closed. It's just not me. if I had wanted to make fun of these gardens the post would have looked very different.

  9. Love this post and yes - it raises some interesting questions. Why DO we garden?? And what are we telling people with our gardens??

    The first thing I did when I moved into my own flat, after a lifetime of pasively watching my parents garden without ever joining in, was to to plant things.

    Now we have a garden and I treate it like my life - not enough focus!! Some things are edible, some things flower, some things seed themselves and I let them grow wild (field poppies by the truckload). But it makes me happy - unlike our neighbours who have half an expanse of dirt and half of paving stones, and a ghastly leylandii hedge. This does not please me at all...!

  10. We are on the extreme opposite of the window box - 3 hectares to be exact. And indigenous as well. But we love every square millimeter of it and we grew about 75% of the plants from seed. My point... a garden becomes an obsession no matter the size. That is why I dislike the trademark landscape gardens - where is the passion?


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