A Spring, Metasequoia and Under a Maple Tree, To Drink a Garden

56 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of water from a fresh spring in Baltimore County, Md. Fresh water from a limestone base that we drank today. Can you imagine having fresh water scooped with a ladle by the spring for us to drink. To drink a garden, to see a garden, to smell a garden, to drink a garden from a spring within two to three hundred feet of a major intersection with water runoff that plummets ten feet below. Perhaps it is a testament to those metasequoia and dawn redwood trees that grow twenty-five feet higher than the surface of the spring. Their feet stick up like thumbs. The deer are drawn to their bark and then follow their path through the pipe under the road. And while contemplating the stand of 100 trees in a micro-clime that becomes awash with sand, ferns are discussed. Hundreds of ferns to plant as a backdrop to the bluestone bench far to the left, a path to be made of wood and stone, a destination there. While sitting on Greenspring stone and steps, the three of us are shaded by maple trees. Looking up to the filtered sun, the underside of the maple leaves are beautiful. Why had I never thought the leaves could be looked at from the underside and be so lovely. They were.

University of Maryland Wye House Archeology Exhibition Opens at Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD

Orangery at Wye House, Easton, MD, 1963, Photograph by Historic American Buildings Survey    University of Maryland Wye House Archeology Exhibition Opens at Academy Art Museum Easton, MD, 1963, Photograph by Historic American Buildings Survey. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection) The historic finds from eight years of excavations at Wye House -- one of the most important and well documented plantations in Maryland -- will be on display for the first time in a major interpretive exhibition.  Joint Heritage at Wye House, co-curated by the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, and the University of Maryland, opens at the Museum on August 24, 2013 and continues through October 15.     Drawing on archaeological evidence from the slave quarters and from the historic Green House (later called the Orangery) at Wye House,  the exhibition contains a rare display of archival materials, household objects, books, recipe collections, maps, and artwork related to the slaves, workers and family  who lived and worked at Wye House for roughly 200 years. Organized by Anke Van Wagenberg, Museum Curator, and visiting curators Mark P. Leone, Elizabeth F. Pruitt, Benjamin A. Skolnik, and Amanda Tang from the Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland College Park, Joint Heritage at Wye House explores the co-existing African and European cultures and their creations at the plantation in the 18th and 19th centuries.  
Broken plate artifact. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection)
Broken plate artifact. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection)
The archaeology of Wye House spans eight years of excavations on slave quarters, slave industries, and buildings associated with the shipping of agricultural goods at the thriving plantation. The Lloyd family, founders and owners of Wye House, owned hundreds of slaves. A young Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) lived and worked at Wye House, and later reported he first learned there what it meant to be a slave. The exhibition concentrates on the culture made by Africans and African Americans on the property, including the combined work of the Lloyds and their enslaved Africans.   One section of the exhibition includes the history of Wye House, its structures, and people, including books on architecture. A second section focuses on excavation methods, materials excavated and interpretations of the objects, while a third interprets the Green House (later called the Orangery) and its archaeological data and meaning, derived from pollen grains, food remains, and thousands of broken dishes. The Green House interpretation explores farming, domesticating new plants, and a native pharmacopeia. The section of the exhibit on the population of Wye House introduces the lives of the Lloyd family, enslaved Africans, and the free people who worked with them after the Emancipation Proclamation, and includes a searchable database drawn from previously unavailable lists of slaves, including hundreds of full names.  The ability to fully identify the historical individuals who lived and worked the plantation is a rare and remarkable feature of the exhibition.   In a related vein, historical family cookbooks will trace the introduction of local ingredients and the influence of African-American cooks in the emergence of southern cuisine.   On September 26, 2013 at 6 p.m., the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, will present a lecture in its Kittredge-Wilson Speaker Series entitled, “The Archaeology of Time Telling at Wye House for Black and White Production: Floral Clocks, Time and the Greenhouse,” by Professor Mark P. Leone and Elizabeth F. Pruitt, Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park.  Pollen grains found in the rooms of the greenhouse at Wye show an array of over 100 plants used for food, medicine, and household chores. This lecture sees the greenhouse not as a decoration, not as an isolated building, but as the pivot around which the woods, bogs, fields, and gardens at Wye were made to predict time, like a clock. In addition to food and medicine, the array of flowers and leafy plants in the greenhouse and in the surrounding formal garden could have been used to tell the time of day similar to the manner of a floral clock. The whole purpose of a floral clock at Wye House would be to have an independent measure of time beyond the factory bell that sent slaves to the field and the overseers’ commands that kept people there on the owner’s clock.   The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Richard and Beverly Tilghman, the University of Maryland, College Park and the Frederick Douglass Honor Society. Additional support was provided by The Historical Society of Talbot County and The Maryland Historical Society, who generously loaned materials, as well as Patrick Rogan for exhibition design. The exhibition is made possible by funding from the Maryland Humanities Council, Maryland State Arts Council, and Talbot County Arts Council. The Museum is located at 106 South St., Easton, MD, 21601. For further information, call 410-822-ARTS (2787) or visit www.academyartmuseum.org.      

Wickliffe, the Castle at Maryvale and Its Gardens by Carlisle Hashim

Maryvale Castle, credit Carlisle Hashim
Maryvale Castle, credit Carlisle Hashim
Wickliffe Castle, a home designed by Baltimore architect Wilson L. Smith, was built for Dr. and Mrs. Walter Wickes in 1912.  The 182 acre estate was originally owned by Charles Carroll, a Marylander and only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. It replicates a late medieval castle similar in design to Warwick Castle in England.  Tudor in style, its paneling, lead paned windows, porte cochere, turrets and tower cost $250,000 upon completion.  Located north of Baltimore City, the Castle is now Maryvale's Castle, a building like no other in a large radius of private schools.  Maryvale Preparatory School is a private Catholic girl school for grades 6-12.  
Picture credit: Maryvale Preparatory School Leaded glass doors lead to a raised terrace overlooking pristine woods.  To the side of the terrace is the boxwood garden, a garden that appears to be original to the house. Other designs by Wilson L. Smith do not shed light on the design of Wickcliffe's boxwood garden.  Had the Wickes wanted to replicate their garden to be of late Medieval bordering early Renaissance period, certainly boxwood would have been used.  One descends from the stone terrace at Maryvale to the sunken boxwood garden.  At the far corners are small stone turrets, five, six steps high.  Late pictures show a tilted umbrella with garden furniture, to afford other terraced views.   The boxwood room is probably close to 100 years old and is in good condition.  There is a maize.  One thinks of Hampton Courts, England, home of Henry VIII.  In "A Garden Walk," a book written by Adelma Grenier Simmons, she notes that the smell of box can be annoying or not.  But, she believes that "Queen Anne, who at Hampton Court, had all the magnificent boxwood cut because she didn't like the smell ... wantonly destroyed years of growth." IMG_0130 Was there an herbal garden surrounded by knots of box when the Wickes laid out their beds?  Pollen tests would be necessary to determine what herbs were grown before the boxwood became so big that they were the only specimen.  The Maryvale students are in good company.   Monks, Shakespeare, and European royalty if dreamt of boxwood were "assured ... of long life, prosperity and a happy marriage," as quoted by Mrs. Adelma Grenier Simmons of Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, Connecticut.  

River Rock Building in Patapsco River, Maryland with Nature Art InThe Park

Some practitioners call it Rock Balancing. Some call it the ancient art (or Zen) of Stone Stacking, while others call it cairn or dolmen constructing. Often remote & anonymous, these simple stone-on-stone sculptures speak to us like microcosmic written stories (bookmarks). We can read them as locators (breadcrumbs), places of ritual, icons, dancing spirit beings, calendrical circles, lightning rods, forts, falling stars, or other things — from distant times & places, other cultures and languages. And, we can build them ourselves in our own place & time, in our own image. It’s really all part of the same thing.
Buddha'sBuddha’s StonesStones
 Click on the images 
And yet, each iteration expresses something new & unique, too. It’s an object of divine beauty or comedy or ch’i or abstraction that never quite existed before, and may never again. ted_betts_600_7220768314_991dfc769e_z Teddy Betts (1956 – 2010) Master River Rock Builder Photo by Doug Retzler It’s where the modern age meets the stone age — a balancing point, a fragile, pivotal moment in the river of time.  Here in Maryland’s Patapsco valley, we call it River Rock Building — because that’s what Teddy called it.  He was a devoted River Rock Builder, like no other. For more information about Nature in the Park on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/events/607285245970541/permalink/616157018416697/ For more pictures go to: http://ellicottcity.net/gallery/guardians_of_the_patapsco/ Significance of River Rock Building by Tom Chambers: http://http://rockbuilding.wordpress.com/semiotics This information was provided by Nature Art in the Park.org  

The Johns Hopkins University’s Evergreen Museum & Library House Beautiful Series, Hillwood: Living Artfully with Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The Johns Hopkins University's Evergreen Museum & Library concluded its House Beautiful Series with “Hillwood: Living Artfully with Marjorie Merriweather Post” .  The Executive Director of Hillwood House and Gardens, Kate Markert marked  the storied life and career of the "American Empress" Ms. Post.  Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress of  the Post cereal fortune, was an only child.  Her father sat her in the boardroom of his burgeoning business at an early age.  A woman of fine taste, business acumen and political savvy, she wielded considerable influence during the 20th century.  That broad timeframe continues even today after her death in 1973.  Hillwood, her home, is a Museum, in Washington, D.C., open to the public.  Ms. Markert described Marjorie Merriweather Post's singular Russian art collection including her two Imperial Faberge eggs. Like the interior of Hillwood, Ms. Post's  gardens (Noted below) are of museum quality:  French parterre, a Japanese garden and if one can call flowers a work of art, freshly cut floral arrangements from the Museum's greenhouses which daily adorn the Hillwood House.  Fittingly, from her summit lawn one can see the spire of the Washington Monument.  Kate Markert described  Ms. Post's time in Russia with her then husband,  Ambassador  Joseph Davies, and after as hostess to presidents and political leaders in her Washington Hillwood Home. Ambassador John Work and Alice Warder Garrett's Home in Baltimore, MD The Johns Hopkins University’s Evergreen Museum & Library House Beautiful Series was held in Evergreen's private theatre designed by celebrated Russian émigré Léon Bakst (1866-1924), best known for his set designs for the Ballet Russes. Built in 1858 for a Baltimore entrepreneur,  Stephen Broadbent, Evergreen belonged to the Ambassador John Work Garrett (1872-1942) and his wife Alice Warder Garrett (1877-1952).  The Garretts made their home an artistic and cultural center soon after inheriting the property in 1920. The Gardens of Hillwood, Washington, D.C. The twenty-five acre estate in northwest Washington, DC, was purchased in 1955 by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Between 1955 and 1957, after she purchased the estate, Post hired prominent landscape architects Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel, to expand the existing gardens. Thirteen acres of formal gardens flow from the house in a progression of “outdoor rooms.” Each of these rooms, meant to complement the 1926 Georgian mansion’s indoor spaces, is decidedly private yet connected to adjacent gardens through subtle transitional features. The layout reflects not only the design vocabulary of the landscape architects, but also the distinctive taste of Mrs. Post. The Innocenti and Webel-designed French Parterre, featuring typical formal elements of an 18th-century French garden, serves as a complement to the 18th-century French art and furnishings. Just beyond, lies the Rose Garden, redesigned by landscape architect Perry Wheeler. Other highlights of the gardens include the Shogo Myaida-designed Japanese-style Garden, a testament to the taste for oriental gardens influenced by the reintroduction of Japanese culture to America during the 1950s; the Friendship Walk, a colorful, flowering monument honoring Post’s lifetime of philanthropy; and the Lunar Lawn, a large, crescent-shaped lawn that provides a view of the Washington Monument. http://www.museums.jhu.edu http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org    

St. Elmo’s Light, James Turrell Exhibit at the Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD

Turrell at Roden Crater, Copyright: James Turrell, Photo By: Florian Holzherr.
Turrell at Roden Crater, Copyright: James Turrell, Photo By: Florian Holzherr.

James Turrell Perspectives, a new exhibit featuring the premier of a new installation entitled St. Elmo’s Light, is now on view at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD. James Turrell is an internationally-acclaimed light and space artist whose work can be found in collections worldwide. Over more than six decades he has pursued his fascination with the phenomena of light to create striking works that play with the perception and the effect of light within a created space.  Since 1974, Turrell has been converting a dormant volcano in Arizona, Roden Crater, into a monumental work of art. James Turrell Perspectives is concurrent with the artist’s retrospectives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

James Turrell Perspectives will emphasize the issues and ideas that have been at the core of Turrell’s work. The artist, who resides part time on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and his team are collaborating fully on the project. The exhibition consists of four components, installed in four ground floor galleries in the Academy Art Museum, including a room of holograms, the site-specific light installation, a selection of photographs and plans and a set of bronze and plaster models related to the Roden Crater project in Arizona. Together these four parts will focus on Turrell’s fascination with both the room of holograms, the site-specific light installation, a selection of photographs and plans and a set of bronze and plaster models related to the Roden Crater project in Arizona. They will also introduce recurring themes in Turrell’s oeuvre related to geologic time and his efforts to give viewers a direct experience with the cosmos.  
Photo #1: James Turrell, St. Elmo’s Breath, 1992, Private Collection, Copyright James Turrell, Photograph by Florian Holzherr.
Photo #1: James Turrell, St. Elmo’s Breath, 1992, Private Collection, Copyright James Turrell, Photograph by Florian Holzherr.
The first part of the exhibition will be an “Aperture Installation” entitled “St. Elmo’s Light,” constructed ex-novo in the Museum’s Lederer Gallery. This new installation belongs to a category Turrell calls “Space Division Works” and is the third in a series that began in 1992 to examine the quality of light. Viewers will experience an interplay of space, forms and tone in a carefully crafted projection of light. The projections work on visual perceptions and the sense of light as a real physical material. Turrell comments about his installations, “I love making spaces that change as your looking changes, it’s not quite as if something’s looking back at you, but it’s about something that has a presence equal to yours, because the light inhabiting that space has a ‘thingness’ of its own.”  

In addition to the direct visual experience, this installation has a strong conceptual component.  Although often associated with the minimalist and land art movements that have been prominent since the 1960s, James Turrell also has an affinity with artists like Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Caspar David Friedrich and J. M. W. Turner who were compelled to represent light in a way that also implied a greater meaning and conveyed something transcendent.

  The second part of the exhibition will be the premier of eight holograms of abstract forms. The holograms will occupy the Healy Gallery that has been specially adjusted to enhance the visual experience.  These holographic images will introduce visitors to ideas that have engaged Turrell for decades: the duality of light, visual perception, dematerialization, the physical property of light, as well as the spiritual quality of light. Viewers may learn more about how Turrell tries to encode light with meaning.
James Turrell, Roden Crater Aerial Photograph. 1979 Photograph (carbon print), with Wild RC8 camera image 23” x 23 ¾”
James Turrell, Roden Crater Aerial Photograph. 1979 Photograph (carbon print), with Wild RC8 camera image 23” x 23 ¾”

The third and fourth components of the exhibition, a group of photographs and plans from Turrell’s personal collection and a set of recently constructed bronze and plaster models relate to the ongoing development of Roden Crater.  Although rarely tagged as a traditional photographer, Turrell was once an assistant to Ansel Adams. The photographs relate to Turrell’s interest in aviation, technology, landscape and time. They may be considered both within the context of the representation of landscape in America and as documentation of the Roden Crater project. The models will help viewers understand the spaces that Turrell has constructed within Roden Crater to facilitate celestial observation. They have been displayed on a limited basis in Munich and New York.

The exhibition, organized by Museum Director Erik Neil and Curator Anke Van Wagenberg, will be on display at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, from April 20 through July 7, 2013, and is underwritten in part by the Dedalus Foundation, the Talbot County Arts Council and the MD State Arts Council, Ilex Construction, Inc., The Ravenal Foundation, as well as Thomas and Robin Clarke, Tim Kagan, Frank and Joan Kittredge, and Robert and Marsha Lonergan.  The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated checklist.

Van Wagenberg will provide curator-led tours on Friday, May 10; Thursday, May 23; and Friday, June 7, 2013 at 12 noon.  Admission to the Museum is $3 for non–members, children under 12 admitted free. The Museum is open Monday and Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  The First Friday of each month, the Museum is open until 7 p.m.  The Museum is located at 106 South St., Easton, MD, 21601. For further information, call 410-822-ARTS (2787) or visit www.academyartmuseum.org

Eliza Ridgely and Her Hampton Mansion Gardens Circa 1830-1880

Hampton Mansion Gardens, Courtesy, Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service
Hampton Mansion Gardens, Courtesy, Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service
Eliza Ridgely was considered an accomplished gardener and horticulturist, her flowers came from her extensive gardens at the Hampton estate north of Baltimore. The American Farmer Magazine in 1854  deemed her gardens “as expressing more grandeur than anything in America.”
American Farmer Magazine also described the “sophisticated” watering system that Mrs. Ridgely employed in her gardens, “a reservoir at the mansion, from where it radiates to different sections of the garden, where hydrants are placed, and by a hose the entire garden can be watered at pleasure. Last summer, when all other places in the neighborhood were dry and barren, the flower garden at Hampton presented a gorgeous array of bloom. The Petunias, Verbenas, Geraniums, and other summer flowering plants, looked as though they lacked no moisture there.” What is not in the above paragraph about gardening in the 1850s and particularly Mrs. Ridgely’s gardens piques interest.  Gardening manuals were just becoming in vogue in the U.S.  Andrew Downing was one of the first “go to” landscapers to capture the garden style of the day.  The great Crystal Palace in London was built in 1851  with an extensive watering system.  Mrs. Ridgely’s sophisticated irrigation practice as described in 1854 to keep her flowers from wilting in the humid high 80s and low 90s of a Baltimore summer showed ingenuity.  The petunias, verbenas and geraniums, all annual bedding plants are Victorian flowers.  Eliza appears to be ahead of the curve or on par with her English compatriots in her choice of plant material. “A beautiful Swiss cottage of fine taste greets the weary at one end of the (Eliza’s) garden…” as described by The Horticulturist, June 1857.  Why Swiss? Perhaps Ms. Ridgely was enamored of the folly (French, folie,) an exotic ornamentation used in European gardens to remind one of things past.  Of course her gardens would not be complete without an Orangery, built in the Greek Revival style in ca. 1830 to over-winter her citrus plants.
Photo Courtesy: Hampton Mansion, National Park Service
Photo Courtesy: Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service
The Tidewater/Mid-Atlantic landowner employed terraces or “falls” to section or divide gardens tiered down a hill.  From the standpoint of the estate gardener, planting and sowing must have been made easier than to climb a steep slope below Hampton Mansion.
American gardeners in the 1830s and later had few sources for plant instruction. Eliza Ridgely purchased Bernard M’Mahon’s American Gardener’s Calendar, Robert Buist’s The American Flower Garden Directory (1834), William Gilpin’s Landscape Gardening (1832) and John Lindley’s The Theory of Horticulture (1840).  Lastly the most significant guidance came from The Horticulturist, a pillar journal edited by America’s leading landscape designer A.J. Downing. Thank you to the following for their informative works: Hampton National Historic Site Guidebook, chapter on gardens by Paul Bitzel (Towson, MD: Historic Hampton, Inc., 2010) and Gregory R. Weidman, Curator, The Romance of Nature: Eliza Ridgely & the Garden, Hampton National Historic Site, 2009. Today you can visit the Hampton Mansion and 63 acres of the surrounding estate which is now a National Historic Site.   For Park hours go to:  www.nps.gov/hamp/index.htm