Thursday, November 1, 2012

Monet's Garden: A Piece of Giverny in New York

"scratching the packed earth
in the abandoned garden
I rake and dig and hope
urban creatures hear me
and they watch and wait
scoffing or aloof or shy
but then while I sleep
the scent of lavender roots
calls each of them to visit
and to imagine a garden
and in the early morning
songs emerge from memory." - Urban Garden from J.J. Brown's Natural Supernatural Love Poems.

My garden is getting ready for a winter slumber. Time spent in it is less and less, darkness and cold being my enemies. I have no power over these forces. Spring seems like light years away, but with the way time is traveling lately, will be here in a wink of an eye.

I think of the songs that emerge from memory from the smells - honeysuckle brings back carefree summer nights from childhood, or lily of the valley which still grows abundantly in the backyard of my childhood home. Sometimes it is just sights - marigolds the color of the sun reminds me of my mother's garden, or snow drops heralding soon-to-be spring. Red or pink geraniums will always bring me back to visits to my grandmother's home in Switzerland.

Gardens have been in my life a lot this past year or two - finding the artwork of Georgia O'Keeffe, reading Julie Andrews Edwards' magnificent Mandy about a young girl finding a secret garden, Tori Amos' poetic song Datura, our wedding reception on our patio next to our garden, the gardens I explored on my honeymoon in California. The more gardens are in my life, the better I am for it.

I had the great pleasure of attending the Monet's Garden exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden on its very last day with my mother, who has planted the seed in me, pun intended, to love flowers. It was a splendid October Sunday, as happy a way to pass the time that I can imagine. 

"In the garden suspended in time,
my mother sits in a redwood chair;
light fills the sky,
the folds of her dress,
the roses tangled beside her." - Mark Strand, as quoted in the book Rose Garden Memories

Charlotte in Giverny. Perhaps this book will plant a seed in its readers. I wish I had learned about art in my public education. I had a French teacher who took us to an Henri Matisse exhibit in New York City when I was a teenager, but I was never taught anything about art. Did you have a teacher, at school or at home, who taught you about art?

"Half the interest of a garden is in the constant exercise of the imagination" - Mrs. C.W. Earle, as quoted in the book Rose Garden Memories.

"although you must leave
stay with me a moment
in this rose garden
so the fragrance of your skin
may linger in my hair
as I slowly wash our teacups" - Visitor and the Teacup, J.J. Brown, Natural Supernatural Love Poems

The water lilies here are a new song that the heart remembers happily. I can understand why Monet became obsessed with them after seeing them at the World's Fair in Paris in 1889.

"I do what I can to express what I feel in the presence of nature." - Claude Monet.

"Dividing Canaan. Piece by piece." - Datura, Tori Amos

"By the first of July all of Mandy's plants were in full bloom. The garden was a mass of color and she was beside herself with delight. It was a small miracle. She was kept busy with a lot of weeding, for not only the flowers thrived, but everything else as well. But it was worth it. The roses were blooming around the door. The nasturtiums were bursting all over the front flower beds, seeming to have no sense of direction and growing in a wonderfully untidy way, the curling stems hiding and twisting beneath the big leaves. Their flowers were mostly a bright orange or yellow with an occasional mahogany red bloom. And they have a coarse, tangy fragrance - an unforgettable scent." -  Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards


  1. I have now finally gotten to reading this post! Thank you for sharing the lovely poetry. When we were back in NY in June, we went to see the Monet's Garden exhibit with some friends of ours. It was so lovely, and yes, I was especially amazed by the water lilies in the outdoor pool! We spent a lovely afternoon there, including wandering into some of the small, less visited areas. How amazing, I kept thinking as I watched various employees quietly doing their weeding, to live in the middle of NYC and go to work there each day. It must feel as if they are in another world!

    Several years ago we accompanied these same friends to the train show that is created in that grand conservatory at this time each year. It is such an amazing creation of creativity and artistry out of all manner of natural objects. Have you been to that? It does get very crowded, but is quite worth it. I highly recommend it to other children my age!

  2. Hi Amy! Thanks for the comment and I'm so glad you got to see it too. Not long after I saw this, I found a beautiful photography book on Monet's Giverny at the Goodwill for just $3 and a Monet water lily puzzle on the same trip for also a few dollars. It will be my armchair traveling on a cold day when I will imagine myself in France.

    I enjoy when I have the chance to watch the CBS Sunday morning show, and they end each broadcast with a few minutes of beautiful scenery. I love that they do that - after all the news (good and bad), taking time to enjoy nature. How often does the news do that? Turning back to these images are a bit of my few minutes of meditation on my blog here.

    I have not been to that train show but was just thinking about it! I'd love to get to see it. I also read about a Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit of her art in New Mexico in Montclair, New Jersey I want to get to.

  3. Here's a recent article on the train show: