A few months ago I received a call in the office from a journalist up near Poughkeepsie, New York. She was asking about the healing properties of gardens and we got talking about the topic of horticultural therapy. We had a very deep and detailed conversation about the history and benefits of horticulture as therapy. The other night I found that Stephanie had finished and posted her article for the Poughkeepsie Journal. I really enjoyed it so I wanted to pass it along for all of you to read and enjoy as well. If you would like to check out the article, click on this link to the Poughkeepsie Journal.
In addition, I wanted to share with you some photographs from the garden of Ricci Albenda. Ricci is presently exhibiting in the HSNY Gallery here at 148 West 37th Street and has also been kind enough to open up his garden to the public on specific Sundays from 12-4pm. As I headed over yesterday I was not entirely sure what I would find at 26 Devoe Street. In short, what I would find would not only rejuvenate my senses, it would test me, it would lead me to new knowledge and new friends. Ricci's backyard was like a horticulturists dream come true. Found objects, reclaimed objects, plants, a love of bulbs and tubers, a love of winter and spring blooms, near obsession with pruning of woody species, I tell you this garden was rich with it all. I had always wanted to know how bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) might do in a backyard here in the city. I found clumps of them everywhere and Ricci was sure to point out the 'Multiplex' back by the Ailanthus.
Fritillaria meleagris brings me right back to horticulture school for some unknown reason. Part of a spring bulbs class I first saw this plant and couldn't get it out of my head. It was one of the first flowers to pop out at me when I entered the garden this afternoon and I kept going back on it. The detail of the petals, the shape of the large nodding lantern, the fact that they are enchanting little loners in the garden. I love Fritillaria...
...well, almost as much as I love Trillium. Trillium are native woodland plants that love light, dappled shade and a compost rich soil. Their leaves and flowers, all in multiples of three, can be a great discovery when taking a springtime walk in the woods. Like the Sanguinaria, I had been curious to know how Trillium might do in city gardens. These sessile trilliums, meaning that the flower blooms right on top of the foliage, are all the proof I need to try and convince many more to add these favorite natives of mine to their gardens.Tulipa humilis is a plant I had never seen before yesterday so this was a real treat. It comes in many varieties now and I think this must be one of them. It only stood 4-6 inches tall, and as the skies clouded over and it got cooler the flower closed up. I couldn't get the clearest shot of the center, but the white petals and dark blue, almost black center made it such a striking little flower.
And then there were the plant combinations! Usually I am screaming about Vinca, the invasive introduced groundcover people fondly refer to as periwinkle. I see it everywhere and it makes me crazy. But here it was combined with a perennial Sedum, (perhaps 'Angelina'?), and the combination blew my mind. Apparently in tight troughs the Sedum is able to keep tabs on the Vinca and the look was one I will definitely remember for when we finally have more containers and space.
Another new one was this Iris. I am still trying to identify it. Ricci said the name and it went quickly in one ear and out the other. It was planted inter-mixed with the variegated Yucca below and the combination was once again very smart and logical. Of course add green and dark purple flowers with a favorite perennial and it's hard for me not to be in love. Yucca is a native that I love to try and incorporate into most of my garden designs. It has year-round structure and can be combined with anything from hot summer tropicals to cool spring ephemerals. I was reminded of the Western Garden at Garden in the Woods up in Framingham, MA, and the combo of Yucca and California poppy that would stop people dead in their tracks. It is great to take the small, almost whimsical flowers with unique color or shape and scatter them in with these big spiky fellows.
Clearly gardens do have an inherent healing property. Like I said, I wasn't sure what to expect in Ricci's garden. Yet the gardens and the good company and the space full of shape, structure, and flower was very calming and centering and it was a wonderful afternoon.
Ricci Albenda's garden at 26 Devoe Street in Brooklyn will be open to the public again on May 4th and May 11th from 12-4pm. To learn more about Ricci's exhibit, 26 DEVOE, as well as information about getting to his garden, please visit the HSNY website by clicking here.