Musings at The Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC ~ with thanks

The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know. ~ Michel Legrand

On a micro level, Michel Legrand’s quote is a good summation of how I feel about Central Park. The more I see the less I know, I thought as I left through The Conservatory Garden’s beautiful cast iron gates yesterday and into the (com)motion of Fifth Avenue’s rush hour. A combination of genius design, thanks to Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and upkeep maintained by the Central Park Conservancy; Central Park will have you returning many times over – to explore a part of it that you may not have known about before, or to simply enjoy its changing landscape with the unfolding of the seasons.

The silhouetted skyline of Manhattan from the northern end of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Photographing around here never gets tiring.

Renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson, in an interview with a travel magazine that rounded up his favourite spots to visit near his neighbourhood of Harlem, had the following to say: “To relax, I enjoy walking in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park just off East 105th Street.” I’d read this article a while back, and had filed away the Garden-mention in the back of my mind; yet another place to visit and experience in the grandeur of Central Park. 

Main entryway into the Conservatory Garden - the gates once stood at Cornelius Vanderbilt's mansion on 58th St and 5th Avenue

February 1st ~ another warmish 59F winter’s day in New York; a day to make an uptown trip to Central Park North. As I hadn’t done any prior research, I had thought that The Conservatory Garden would be encased in a greenhouse. Not so.

The Conservatory Garden began as a large, E-shaped greenhouse, or conservatory in 1898. It featured an indoor winter garden of exotic tropical plants and outdoor decorative Victorian flowerbeds. In 1937, the deteriorating structure was demolished and this… formal garden was designed in its place.*

Six acres of open air sculpted garden beauty defines its expanse; a triad of stylized gardens, influenced by France, England and Italy. A little bit of Europe in NYC – what a wonderful idea. I’ll let you see for yourself. I hope you enjoy The Conservatory Garden through this pictorial. A mental note: You are entering into an “Official Quiet Zone”.

As an aside, I would like to dedicate this post to my few bloggers: Vidal’sNYC for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award. I hope you may check out Vidal’s photo-glimpses of New York as he sees it. I’m also so appreciative of the support by robertoalborghetti and MiltonJohns Photography for reblogging my posts on Letting Love Rule @ Radio City Music Hall (Lenny Kravitz) and Gated Abandonment on Bowery ~ downtown NYC. I am really humbled by your kind comments and thank you for your inspiration. I hope you may check out the photography and art portfolios of all three bloggers. I’m a keen follower of their work and hope you will be too.

Musings at The Conservatory Garden

Strolling away from the motivated joggers circling Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir on a temperate winter’s day. Approaching the Conservatory Garden from within; along one of Central Park’s meandering pathways. Rules from hereon in ~ observing a quiet zone. Winter’s natural stillness, further enforced.

S’il vous plaît entrez: The French inspired part of the Garden, at its northern end.

Fountains, standing on empty ~ for now. Dancing Maidens sculpture by German artist Walter Schott.

Manicured hedges; swirling patterns of green. Symmetry, order and form. Envisioning scenes from Sophia Coppola’s, Marie Antoinette. The Gardens of Versailles ~ I need to see them.

Winter’s calm beauty, so amplified ~ still trees, late afternoon sun, shadows. Fifth Avenue – steps away, yet unheard and unnoticed, except for its mansions looking over the fence. A solitary bench…

… adorned with a dedication. Love lives on, always.

Hibernating hydrangeas; beds of roses, asleep ~ looking forward to a long awaited yawn and stretch. A blooming prospect: the onset of spring.

Intermission: Lenny Kravitz – I Build This Garden For Us

A stream of late afternoon rays, painting patterns on the pathways, like those of sun-drenched stained glass windows.

Please enter: the English inspired part of the Garden, to the south.

Grassy furry plants; recollections of Mr. Snuffleupagus. Reminiscing about those days of watching Sesame Street as a kid, back in Sydney. Somehow still remembering this shaggy-haired muppet’s name ~ Snuffy, for short.

From this angle, looking like a fuzzy topped bouquet of hay. Inspiration for a lavish centrepiece.

More recollections; this time of those crazy hairstyled muppets on Fraggle Rock. Do you remember? The English part of the Garden may be themed on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic, The Secret Garden, though it is so Jim Henson inspired.

Early bloomers ~ jonguils. Perhaps spring really is closer than we hope it to be.

~ Pausa ~

Generosity of the human spirit. Thankfulness; appreciation for the love bestowed by family and friends.

Inserisci il giardino: the Italian inspired garden, in the Conservatory’s centre.

Entangled beauty; Chinese wisteria, in a winter slumber. Wrought iron details of an ornate pergola against a Fifth avenue vista.

A blue period.

A touch of history ~ the names of the original 13 states, engraved into tile.

The grand gesture ~ an engraved proposal. Time, at a stand-still.

A place to create memories for generations to come.

Imagining being on the terrace of an Italian villa: directly ahead – the jet of the fountain’s thriving 12-foot high geyser; a grand lawn flanked by two exquisite allées of pink and white crabapple trees*; a perfectly hedged and manicured perimeter; birds chirping; the faint fragrance of wisteria in the air; views of Fifth Avenue mansions in the distance. Such is the anticipation of seeing the garden’s beauty in full bloom.

The Italian Renaissance Garden: The Medici, the ruling dynasty of Florence, used gardens to demonstrate their own power and magnificence. “During the first half of the sixteenth century, magnificence came to be perceived as a princely virtue, and all over the Italian peninsula architects, sculptors, painters, poets, historians and humanist scholars were commissioned to concoct a magnificent image for their powerful patrons.” **

Musings, interrupted. Dusk descends, and the grand gate must close.

Entering the real world. Hello again, Manhattan.