Friday, July 25, 2008

New York Summer: East 65th Street

Catholic Churches in New York seem to have attempts at gardens, often. Gardens as opposed to "landscaping". Episcopal churches hire help. Catholic churches have a funny little person who loves plants. And Mary must always have flowers. I can't help liking that, even though me and the Pope...? Oy, don't get me started.

And they have a particular and peculiar, guilless, slightly inept aesthetic. I can't help thinking of the innocent, mannered and yet readable memoirs of Lady Fortescue: Perfume from Provence and Sunset House. In them she bemoans her southern French, Latin gardener, Hilaire's, lack of colour-sense. He planted riots. In rows. She wanted English borders. She recoiled.

Well, here's a riot, and I like it. I have never seen the gardener, though I imagine a wizened Nonna or frail and frustrated priest, wracked by celibacy, or at least by having to maintain its appearance...

There is fruit, too. A peach, grapes, raspberries, an old apple. All bear. And this on the corner of Lexington and E65th.


  1. You're a riot. :-) But I agree. Anarchy is a very organized kind of chaos... Marie must always have flowers.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me that so many churches here in Australia are unimaginative and just surrounded by concrete.You'd think a church garden (preferabbly perfumed) would speak volumes about beauty and nature, but concrete rules.Buildings with no beauty,no soul,and no butterflies.

  3. V- yes, Marie must have flowers :-)

    Pam - when I was little, in my church-going, innocent days, I used to help my mom arrange flowers in the cathedral in Bloemfontein (I got to do the side chapel where my artistic endeavours woud be less likely to raise eyebrows, I think ). But I always thought that the church started to breathe once they were in place. Then again, the flowers came from our garden and were also bought...

  4. I agree - it's a riot and it's beautiful. I sometimes wish I had that kind of naive approach and love for Lots of Colourful Flowers. Saw a perfect example a few kms from Patasfontein where tannie Cornelia (volk) was growing stock roses, and every imaginable bright flower in the baking klein karoo. Amazing!
    I do have fantasies of a cut flower garden - with inca lilies, michaelmas daisies, gladioli et al....but alas not enough sun here in Fernwood. Went to an aloe talk at Kbosch today by Ernst (van Jaarsveld) - I would love to indulge myself in such a riot of winter colour and chunky rosettes of greygreen leaves, but alas - once again - not enough sun. With all the rain we've had my succulents are turning to pulp! It would appear I perfect garden for azaleas, camellias and all the n. Amer. woodland natives you love so much... Maybe I should dis the indigenous theme after all!

  5. Marijks: Can't you go Cape Kloof and Hogsback forest instead?

    But the totalitarianism of Indigenous, like Local, and Green, is a sort of tyranny, too.

    Now you've reminded of the the little gardens one sometimes sees in the country, in front of "cottages" like at Mamre, and Suurbraak where its all pumpkins and cannas and a peach tree and daisies and a puppy and an old lady with a head cloth in a broken-down chair...

  6. Exactly! (those country gardens)

    Think I need a trip to Hogsback for inspiration....
    In the mean time I have one to Holland and Umbria to look forward to...yikes leaving soon...23rd aug. Lots to do before then.


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