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Bryant Park: A Stunning Urban Garden

Bryant Park, a 9 plus acre parcel of land, sits in mid-town Manhattan, blending in so well with the hustle and bustle of the city that it practically goes unnoticed, unless one is familiar with it or just happens to stumble onto it. It is located at 42nd and 6th, with the Bank of America skyscraper directly across from it and the New York Public Library on its grounds.

What makes Bryant Park such a jewel is that feels like a Parisian park transported smack in the middle of traffic jammed,  gritty NYC.  It’s a spot where New Yorkers can relax, read, feed the pigeons, have a chat or buy some food from anyone of the several vendors surrounding it. It is all so civilized, almost from another time: and to my eyes and ears is very reminiscent of The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. It would be enough if the park was strictly an area filled with boxwoods, ivy and bistro chairs and tables. But this is not the case.

There is a long history associated with this park dating back to 1686 when the area, which was still a wilderness, was designated as a public space by New York’s colonial governor. Over the next sixty some years, the park was used for a variety of causes, one being a graveyard for the poor.

From 1847 on, when it opened as a park under the name of Reservoir Square, this large chunk of land went through several transformations, finally being given the name of Bryant Park in 1884. During The Great Depression, it was redesigned with a large lawn, evergreen hedges and an iron fence, delineating it as a separate park from the streets of NYC.

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Can you name this flower?

I got this e-mail from Margaretta Mitchell, photographer extaordinaire, who need an ID for a book she is completing and the homeowner could not remember the flower.

She had consulted books and websites and everything suggested a Scaevola but Scaevola are all blue except for a few new white cultivars  What rare new thing was this?  The color is so sumptuous I wanted to know and find it for myself. Continue Reading →

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Praying With Our Eyes

Echinacea in woodland setting at ChanticleerI had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend of mine early this morning. He told me about an experience he had last night at his temple, which happens to be a chapel in the woods (how terrific is that?) In her sermon, the rabbi said that as we go through our day, we have the opportunity to ‘pray with our eyes’.

As gardeners, I think we share a sense of awe and we marvel at the beauty of nature: often in the most unlikely of places. But I never quite thought of these moments as ‘praying with our eyes’. When I heard that phrase, I thought ‘Yes, that is a beautiful thought that I want to pass on to the gardening community”.

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