Migration — Gardens To Dream About

Friday, November 07, 2008

This category should be Art and Photography/Writing.
I had lunch yesterday with my dear friend and mentor Professor Ellen D’Oench. Puffin, as she insists on being called, was the curator of the Davidson Art Center at Wesleyan. She edited At Home Inside and helped me choose the photos. Her incisive mind improved the book beyond measure. Without her exquisite sense of design and impeccable taste I’d probably still be sorting through photos. My agent just called and said the book was gorgeous! Hooray!
Puffin loaned me – and I will probably wind up buying – a copy of her sister-in-law Nancy D’Oench’s Gardens Private and Personal. This work is perhaps the most beautiful book I have ever seen. Nancy and photographer Mick Hales traveled the country visiting private gardens and capturing their endless variety from mountain tops to water’s edge, from desert to almost jungle. As I was writing this entry, I opened to page 86-87.
Two rustic wooden chairs rest on a rock ledge overlooking a pond that reflects blue sky, green foliage, pale rock outcroppings. On one side sprays of black-eyed Susans give a blast of color to an otherwise blue-green world. Shrubs and more rustic furniture capture the eye as it travels to haze-covered mountains in the distance. The setting is in Lake Toxaway, on the southwestern edge of North Carolina. On the preceding and following pages are equally dramatic scenes from Stonington, Connecticut, and from Winfield Farm, also in North Carolina. These vistas lead off a chapter entitled “Ways With Water.” Nancy evokes the “magic” of water as a design element in gardens and provides a brief history – from Persia to India to Moorish Spain to England to Japan.
I brought the book home on a day in which the predicted “light showers” turned into a deluge. It began to grow dark at 3:30. Every time I wanted a little pick-me-up, I opened Nancy’s book where I could gaze on amaryllis, wisteria, red horse chestnut, and a great many plants new to me: astilbe, scallop echeveria, and zebra mallows among them. Each viewing renewed my spirit.
Thank you, Nancy, and thank you, Puffin, for enlightening my day in more ways than one!

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