Wednesday, June 24, 2015

No time for tea in Boston

Its amazing how many  USA cities have counterparts in the USA, although given its heritage and the designation New England, maybe that's not surprising. Boston in the UK is a small town in Lincolnshire with a population of 64,000 whereas the USA version is the largest city in Massachusetts with a population of 655,000. Ten times bigger! Yes I know, most things in the USA are bigger! Anyway, whilst on my vacation with Jim, we spent two days in this beautiful city. Surprisingly, when I messaged Philip to say that we were staying in the Oasis Guesthouse, we found that coincidentally Philip had stayed at the very same place many years ago. 

Jim and I particularly wanted to do the art galleries and we were not disappointed. Whilst the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was lovely, it was the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum that really captivated us. This is housed in what was the family home of Isabella and John Gardner. Together they traveled widely, collecting Italian Renaissance art, furniture and architectural items. The house she built, that now houses the museum is somewhat whimsical, incorporating a vast collection of architectural salvage. The museum surrounds a beautiful courtyard, covered by a glass roof, the first of its kind in the USA. The museum was first opened to the public in 1903. As well as the central courtyard there is a beautiful modern garden, completed in 2013 called the Monk's Garden, styled in many shades of green with white flowers.

The Monk's Garden

Apologies poor quality pic taken through the glass

I last visited Boston probably 30 years ago and have a rosy memory of the public gardens. Sadly what we found this time, was a rather tired civic park with a lake, worn grass and many trees. The flower beds were mostly disappointing and the iconic swan boats had finished for the day.

Nice alliums - pity about the weeds!

The most prominent graft line I have ever seen - assuming that's what it is!
We did pass the Massachusetts Horticultural Society building, looking very formal and not unlike the Royal Horticultural Society premises in Vincent Square. Behind this stretched a vast pool with some extensive herbaceous planting. In another area I was amused by an ugly building that had been entirely clad in a vinyl skin, printed to look like leafy vines. Altogether a great two days in a lovely city. Sadly we didn't have time to visit the site of the 'Boston Tea Party' but I do recommend the Boston Cream Pie from Mike's Pastries!

Is it a plant or a painting?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chicago - city of towers and flowers

Just back from my trip to the east coast. I guess I have enough experiences to write for weeks but I'll limit myself to three postings on this holiday; Boston, Ogunquat and Chicago, where I'll start. I've never been before but found it a beautiful and fascinating city. I was traveling with my friend Jim, as my  husband Philip was busy working and views visiting friends in the same light as a trip to the dentist! In Chicago we were staying with another friend called Jim, who lives on the 75th floor of the John Hancock Tower - the views the first day were staggering but on the second day marred by thick white fog. Pity as we'd intended to go up to the roof or maybe a relief as I don't like heights!

We walked the city down to the Art Institute of Chicago, along streets lined with numerous beds of recently planted summer bedding - beautiful plants in great variety and all arranged like tiny Chelsea gardens. Opposite the art museum we found a broad sweep of perennials and grasses, just starting to flower. I later found that this was the Lurie Garden, a section of Millennium Park and in part designed by the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. Everywhere containers of plants punctuated the sidewalks or enclosed cafe seating. Chicago Jim has promised to take me pictures later in the season, so we'll see how it all develops.

Pussy willow stems for height - nice idea.

Little traditional cloister garden - very English looking!

Lurie Gardens

An inspired touch of red!

Landscape and art linked hands in many areas, where large pieces of sculpture nested into the landscape. I was particularly interested to see 'The Bean' a large mirrored sculpture by Anish Kapoor. If there are any readers from Nottingham in the UK, you will probably know that there is a small mirrored sculpture by the same artist outside the Playhouse Theatre.

An outdoor theater - sculptural arhitecture

The Bean
Distorted reflections- Jim, Jim and me behind the iPhone!

Monday, June 8, 2015

After the desert, the rest!

Currently on vacation in Maine which you'll hear about in due course, so a catch up from a couple of weeks ago!

I promised you a few more pictures of the Huntington Gardens. I have to say we spent a long morning in the wonderful desert garden and although the rest is lovely, it is no where near as spectacular! The Shakespeare garden is a sort of general flower garden with a mix of lots of different plants - not sure how closely linked to The Bard, some species are but they are well grown and nicely displayed.

Great delphineums but why not cut the canes short below the flower heads

Duranta 'Gold Edge' - just planted a young one in the back yard!

Hydrangea quercifolia - great fall colour later

Melianthus major

Romneya coulteri

After that we went on to the sub-tropical garden ,the jungle garden and briefly through the palm garden en route to the lily ponds. 

Calodendron capense - Cape chestnut from South Africa

Clivia nobilis? - apologies poor focus

Cupressus cashmeriana - not hardy in the UK

Hibiscus hybrid

Name anyone? - Ruttya fruticosa - thanks Chad

Crown of a mature palm tree with a kink in the stem bringing it down to eye level

Last time we had missed the children's, garden as it was closed due to rain. Don't ask me the logic of this but the custodian was adamant and turned away one very disappointed family! We rather dashed through the Australian garden and must do this in more detail another time. The children's garden is great fun with many features such as pergolas at children's' height - no adults allowed! Very few pictures - people tend to be fussy taking photos around kids but its a fun garden.  We loitered on the way out admiring unusual plants in containers that line the main walkways past the new buildings - lots of detail as well as gardens on a grand scale. 

Everywhere we became aware of cycads - there seems to be some sort of a project, dividing, replanting and sorting cycads - and Jim fell in love with one that proved to be a very expensive 'want' - another story!

Can you see the lizard hiding in the crown?

In parts of the garden there was frenzied activity - preparing, we discovered for a wedding linked to a wealthy sponsor. Everywhere lots of extra red and white roses - all very Alice in Wonderland!

Come closer and I'll have to shoot you' the docent said!
Would that they actually flowered like that - all tied on!