Was I surprised! My late Garden Conservancy Open Day on October 19 was a rousing success. We had over 300 visitors, and judging by what I could see, most were enjoying it. I was so busy I didn’t take a single photo, so I’m using a Google Earth photo of the house and garden above, just to illustrate why the garden never felt crowded. Apparently we have ample space for large numbers of people, and the circulation patterns work.
Even with an article on my garden in the New York Times two days before, I feared no one would come. You know … Late in the season. Most traditional gardens have long gone over. People might not “get” such a late garden showing.
Which brings up a second concern, one that used to nag at me regardless of the time of year. The Garden at Federal Twist is highly naturalistic, totally lawnless, very unlike what I imagine most Garden Conservancy gardens to be, much less traditional. I’ve been surprised again to see how popular such gardens can be. So have we perhaps reached a turning point in American appreciation of gardens? Is the message getting through? Are lawns getting smaller, less popular? Are people willing to take more risks, to be less conventional? One can hope so.
Patterns of use, or nonuse, are beginning to clarify the nature of the Brooklyn garden. I was reminded of that yesterday when we made our first visit to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the new building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway where Albert Barnes’ extraordinary art collection is now on display. In the lower lobby, and extending up through two levels to the roof opening, is a striking glass-enclosed garden planted with ferns and several tall Ginkgos and Sweet Gums rising through the building. Most definitely a garden to be looked at. There’s no way to enter it.
After a two week hiatus, my garden helpers came last Friday and worked valiently through a cold, windy day. Heavy rain earlier in the week had made the frozen ground workable. To level the surface around the new pool, they removed the gravel from a large area behind it, dug out about a cubic yard of earth, and relaid the geotextile weed barrier and gravel.