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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Before and after

Feeling a little overwhelmed ... finishing construction, preparing the Federal Twist garden for a new year, even thinking of a prominent new serpentine stone wall there, scouting for trees all my weekends, planning the move into the new apartment, enumerating the endless tasks to prepare the soil and install plantings in the Brooklyn garden, otherwise living a full, rich and quite busy life.

This is the start of a list I must make today to take control, or at least feel I've taken steps in that direction.

I think this is a time for self-encouragement. Time for a look back and a look forward. This is the Brooklyn garden after the eighty-foot Mulberry fell in the hurricane last August.


And here is the garden today (photo courtesy of Michael of Bramble & Bean).


I feel better now.

18 comments:

  1. The nearly blank canvas awaits. Let the games begin.

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  2. Wow...it's always amazing to see how much a space can change in such a relatively short time...and the best part is yet to come! Love the vantage...so interesting seeing the neighbors' spaces.

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  3. Yes, interesting to see the neighbors. The one's behind had their garden crushed by the tree. You can make out a pile of lumber over there. They're building.

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  4. Well the hurricane did you a favour, though it is sad to lose great trees. A lifetime of growth gone.

    Make that list James, I know exactly what you mean. Once the hard graft is out of the way, the really nice stuff begins.

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  5. Ha, ha, ha ... I've already started collecting buxus for Brooklyn. It's hard to wait until I have the soil prepared. The list, yes, the list ...

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  6. You've done very well, and the exciting part is about to start. Have you ever grown Viburnum carlesii, the Korean Spice Viburnum? I've just encountered it (so late in life!) and think it is the most beautifully scented plant I've ever encountered. It grows well in both sun and light shade, zone 5.

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    1. Ross, the original owner of the Federal Twist house planted one outside the bedroom door. I noticed this past weekend it's about to come into bloom. So yes, I know it well and the fragrance is wonderful. It drifts around and surprises you. You make a good point. The Brooklyn garden is so small, fragrance will carry well, so I must consider several fragrant plants. You must know Herperis matronalis, the wildflower. It's almost a weed for me, but it also has a wonderful fragrance that drifts long distances. It can't compare to the viburnum fragrance, but it's a winner nonetheless.

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  7. Hi James,
    I love Hesperis, and have scattered seed for a few years hoping that that they catch hold (they resist transplantation, at least for me). It's a beautiful scent, although I remain amazed by the viburnum carleii, not cloying at all, spicy rather than sweet. By the way, thinking of your mulberry, I've really been enjoying the historic trees at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris (the old Jardin du Roi), founded in 1635). The Jesuit fathers, and then the early plant explorers, sent seeds and samples back, and to my astonishment a few of the trees still survive. I visited today the pistachio grown from the seeds sent back from the Ottoman Empire (the brochure says China, erroneously) by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (his Letters from the Near East make an interesting read). His student, S├ębastien Vaillant, theorized plant reproduction from this same tree.

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    1. Ross,

      Fascinating ... Wish I could walk with you and listen to you talk about the trees and their histories. Lacking French, I'd need your guidance. Do you know if any trees from John Bartram made their way there? I seem to recall that the French intercepted British ships carrying some of the plants he sent to England.

      Hesperus matronalis seeds willingly wherever I allow it but only in better drained areas.

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  8. P.S. Here's the brochure --

    http://www.mnhn.fr/museum/front/medias/activite/6793_arbres_historiques.pdf

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    1. Thanks. My Latin gets me through the brochure. A Judas tree planted in 1785? What must that one look like?

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  9. Not as ravishing as the photograph you took of the one in Rome. Your mulberry was you say eighty, but there are of course far older black mulberry trees in England, notably one at Syon House planted in 1548:

    http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mulcom62.html

    I have seen "Milton's Mulberry" at Christ's College Cambridge, a magnificent tree. Interesting to read about James's desire for silk production in England. The mulberry trees of Lucca and Pisa made these cities famous for the quality of their silk. The woman weavers would take the silkworms to their beds to keep them warm on cold winter nights -- a practice that continued right into the 20th C.

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    1. Little did I know our mulberry had such illustrious cousins. The ones at Syon House and "Milton's Mulberry" appear to be much shorter that ours, so I wonder what kind of mulberry ours was. We once had the arborist from Brooklyn Botanical Garden look at it (he was the person who said it might be one of the largest mulberries on the east coast), but I don't remember that he identified it by name.

      In connection with what you say about silk production in Lucca and Pisa, it's interesting that many of our mulberries in Brooklyn seem to be associated with Italian immigrants. This neighborhood was once predominantly Italian and Jewish.

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  10. Nice. Despite all of the designing in plan view, I hardly ever get to see residential gardens from above. The single offset rectangle looks simple but really compelling.

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    1. Thanks, Ryan. The rectangular structure actually "grew" from the offset rectangle made by a 12-foot width of glass doors in the back wall. Sort of an organic process set off by the centerline of the doors. The doors are black, so they make a dramatic statement, and set the tone for the rest of the garden.

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  11. It looks so great, and I also love looking into the neighbors' gardens. If I may join the conversation on mulberries -- I just read in the blog Early American Gardens that John Quincy Adams planted a white mulberry on the grounds of the White House in a move to encourage a U.S. silk industry. The tree lived until 1990. Also, there's a nice old Washington Post article at the link below about immigrants foraging in D.C. for city mulberries.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/07/AR2010060702149.html

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    1. Cindy,

      You and Ross Hamilton have piqued my interest in mulberries. Someone should do a book on the mulberry and its cultural significance through history. A fascinating subject. Thanks for the Washington Post link.

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