Mother Rose

January 17th, 2015 by carlisleflowers

A friend gave me the book, “A Walk Through My Garden” edited by Whitney Scott. I was looking for my Mother and came upon a poem, “Roses for My Mother,” by Evewlyn Lewis-Chase. Her endearing poem promoted my musing and picture …

Mothers of Roses
Bring Beauty
Bring Sorrow
Mothers of Roses
Make Gardeners of Men
When Gone
Their Beauty
Their Petals do lie
Under the vegetables
The sky shines by.


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Grand Canyon, White Rocks

September 29th, 2014 by carlisleflowers
Credit: CarlisleFlowers

Credit: CarlisleFlowers, late September, East Rim

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An Infinity of Graces, Cecil Ross Pinsent, An English Architect in the Italian Landscape

August 18th, 2014 by carlisleflowers
Author: Ethne Clarke Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2013

Author: Ethne Clarke
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2013

Ethne Clarke’s book, An Infinity of Graces tells the story of Cecil Ross Pinsent, an English architect in the Italian landscape. Mr Pinsent, as described by Ms. Clarke, “was trained not to look at any style…but with the full knowledge of what had been done in the past….”  The time of Mr. Pinsent’s work was a time of change in the theories of English gardening.  What ultimately became acceptable was the style forged by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens, a style with some formality mixed with informality.

Pinsent left England, drawn to Florence, Italy, for its architecture and the expatriate world who lived there Ms. Clarke writes.  She continues that the Italian Renaissance garden was a template for perfection in the landscape.  Pinsent was an architect.  He was hired to renovated both indoor and out.  He treated the outdoors as an extension of the house, the garden separated into different rooms.  The beds were simple and cypress was often used to frame a view, the author writes.  Potted citrus or roses were used as transition points. His commissioned work included: I Tatti for Mary and George Berenson, Le Balze for Charles Augustus Strong, and Gli Scafari for Sybil and Percy Lubbock.

Poignantly Ethne Clarke ends An Infinity of Graces by writing, “an insertion of architecture within Tuscan landscape was not a matter of camouflage but a continuous relation with history of landscape.”

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Tapis Vert at Villa Centinale, Sienna, Italy

February 16th, 2014 by carlisleflowers

Tapis vert, tapis vert, tapis vert.  You are slowly walking between columns of oak and ilex with a carpet of grass under your feet. Yes, pull away those blankets of snow. There is a gateway ahead of you.  A hermitage high on the hill.  Just climb those scala santa.

Edith Wharton wrote about the tapis vert of the Villa Centinale near Sienna, Italy in the early 1900’s. The villa is simple, not grand like the Roman villas.  “The glory of Centinale is its park,” wrote Ms. Wharton in her book, “Italian Villas and Their Gardens” published by The Mount Press, Rizzoli.

Vivian Russell in her book, “Edith Wharton’s Italian Gardens” published by Bullfinch Press Book, Little, Brown & Co. , 2000, writes, “Behind the villa … a long green walk extends between high walls.   The tapis vert leads to a crossroads.”

So back on the shores of the USA, what constitutes a tapis vert?  One could call it wishful thinking for some sign of grass below the white of snow.  The green that we can write home about.

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Major Lawrence Johnston and his Plant Expeditions

January 19th, 2014 by carlisleflowers
Hidcote, red border

Hidcote, red border, Photo courtesy of The Galloping Gardener


Ethne Clarke paints a fascinating picture of an American expatriate who designs one of the foremost gardens in Great Britain pre and post WWI in her book, “Hidcote, The Making of a Garden,” published by W.W. Norton & Co., 2009.  Major Lawrence Johnston’s garden, Hidcote is a garden treasure in England, the first garden to be taken on by the National Trust in 1948.  One of the ways Johnston collected plants was by subscribing to a plant exploration or by going on an expedition.  Ms. Clarke explains that Johnston’s prowess in propagation, cultivation, and the recognition of his masterful skills at Hidcote affirmed his application to the Royal Horticultural Society.  As a Society member (voted in in 1922) he could subscribe (help underwrite)  or travel with the Society in search of new plants.  That he did.  The author of the revised edition of “Hidcote, The Making of a Garden,” writes, “His plant-hunting began gently, with a trip in 1922 to the Swiss Alps in the company of the great alpine plantsman E.A. Bowles.”  Johnston’s expeditions took him to South Africa for four months.  Back again to Mt. Kilimanjaro a year later where, Ms. Clarke writes, “…he found a fine hypericum (today Hypericum ‘Hidcote’ is a favorite yellow-flowered shrub in mixed borders.)

Serre de la Madone

Major Johnston created a second garden in the South of France, Serre de la Madone, close to Edith Wharton’s French garden, Chateau Sainte-Claire in the hills about Hyere.  Johnston’s wordily expedition “in the gardens of the northern hemisphere; thus the mountain ranges of Africa, China, India and Persia were (their) prime hunting grounds, since the conditions of these temperate regions most closely simulated those in European gardens,” explains the author, Ethne Clarke.  Indeed Major Johnston had the enviable sites of a Northern and Southern European garden to cultivate his new found plants.

For more Hidcote pictures go to:

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Currier and Ives and a Happy New Year

January 12th, 2014 by carlisleflowers
Courtesy of Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA

Courtesy of Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA



Date: Undated

Artists: Currier & Ives
Medium: Hand-colored lithograph
Measurements: 14 x 10 inches
Access Number: 2004-D03-106
Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert supplemented with Springfield  Museum Acquistions Funds


Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts

In November 2013, the Springfield Museums unveiled a new exhibit of Currier & Ives prints from the collection of the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. The display, titled The Connoisseurship of Currier & Ives, is on view through June 15, 2014. The Museum is home to one of the largest permanent collections of Currier & Ives prints.

Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives branded their company as the creators of “cheap and popular prints” marketed towards middle class Americans. When the firm closed in 1907 as a result of advancing technology, the advent of photography and changes in popular taste, much of their material was considered out of date. However, after World War I many Americans yearned for simpler times and sought comfort in nostalgic images. The availability and cost of original prints led to a surge in merchandise created with Currier and Ives imagery as well as reproductions of the original images.


This exhibition traces the connoisseurship of Currier and Ives over the last century. The images which inspired 20th century artists and collectors to create Currier & Ives themed works will be juxtaposed against original 19th century influences for the firm’s designs. A special section of the show is dedicated to authenticity and explores the differences between original and reproduced Currier & Ives lithographs.

This information was provided from the site of Springfield Museums.


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Four Things to know about Edith Wharton and her book, “Italian Villas and Their Gardens”

January 8th, 2014 by carlisleflowers
  1. Villa Lante, Itlay

    Villa Lante, Italy, Photo courtesy of Roberto Piperno

  2. Read Introduction by John Dixon Hunt of ” Italian Villas and Their Gardens,” a book written by Edith Wharton originally published in 1904 by the Century Company, in 2008 by Rizzoli and The Mount Press.  Why did Henry James describe Edith Wharton’s villa and garden visits as “excursionism?”
  3.  What is difference between garden writer and travel writer? Which was Edith?
  4. Charles Platt wrote a book about Italian gardens about the same time that Wharton did.  How did their writings differ?
  5. Did Edith approve of  Maxfield Parrish’s pictures he painted to portray the gardens she wrote about? Do she have literary control?

Beautiful book to read and that is just the start of it!



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