Виноградные лозы, взбирающиеся на облицованную решетками кирпичную стену заднего двора Гринвич-Виллидж.
На прошлой неделе меня соблазнили четыре раза за один день. Первый раз был в Китайском саду на Верхнем Ист-Сайде Манхэттена. Потом меня захватили виды на романтическую террасу с видом на Центральный парк. В третий раз на элегантной террасе и во внутреннем дворике, целуя край парка Вашингтон-сквер. И, наконец, в Гринвич-Виллидж задний двор больше моей первой квартиры. Ах, Нью-Йорк может быть таким привлекательным.
Even in the Smallest Spaces
It was a perfect New York summer day as I joined a small group on the private gardens tour hosted by the French Institute Alliance Fran?aise, part of their Art de Vivre (Art of Living) program. I attended last year’s tour, the first of the urban garden tours that FIAF hosted, a highlight of their lifestyle series bringing the community up close with French designers, artists, and authors, and featuring exclusive culinary and wine events.
Viewed from upper terrace, 18th century Chinese sculpture is centerpiece of courtyard garden below.
The garden tour was offered as part of the Gardens for Gourmets series, which explores how our relationships with gardens and gardening influence how we cook and live today. The program has featured writer/chefs Patricia Wells and Ina Garten speaking about The Salad as a Meal, and Eli Zabar addressing ‘rooftop to table’, about the importance of fresh produce and how the markets of France have shaped his work and lifestyle. Prince Louis Albert de Broglie and Roger Doiron, head of Kitchen Gardeners International and a lead activist behind Michelle Obama’s White House kitchen garden, presented last month about the rise of garden tourism and biodiversity in 21st-century gardens. “As more people choose to cultivate even the tiniest plots of land,” notes the Institute’s website, “gardening has become a powerful expression of social and economic responsibility.”
A Buddah reflected in the mirror is just one of the illusions created in the Chinese garden.
Trompe l’Oeil Chinese Garden
An 18th century sculpture from Beijing serves as the centerpiece of the main courtyard in the two level Chinese Garden designed by Christian Duvernois. The garden, which consists of the lower courtyard and upper terrace which overlooks it, was inspired by the client’s Chinese art collection. As Duvernois led me a around the intimate space, pointing out the authentic Chinese doors that hide the barbecue and tools behind it, he revealed that 90% of the gardens plantings were…faux.
Above courtyard, living room opens onto upper terrace.
Since the courtyard sits in the shadows of the much taller buildings surrounding it, the garden gets precious little sun. Mixing artificial with real plants was the designer’s unusual solution for the shaded space. The result was a pergola covered private, lush space that suggests a garden much larger than it’s actual square footage. Whatever on might think of the use of fake plants, I must say that it was hard to tell the difference.
Romantic Terrace Garden
Salvaged antique doors are focal point of this terrace garden.
Drawing inspiration from both the Romanticism of the neighboring Frick Collection, and the rustic qualities of its owner’s personal collection, the second garden on the tour opened up onto the city’s rooftops and Central Park. A set of antique doors reclaimed from an architectural salvage yard served as the focal point for this terrace in the sky. Like the first garden, this one also designed by Christian Duvernois, utilized some trompe l’oeil effects including window shutters atop a distressed stucco finish revealing just a bit of the wall’s original brick beneath.
Window shutters on the distressed stucco wall are surrounded by vines.
On casters, the modular powder coated galvanized containers flanking the two sides and end of the terrace can be rotated and moved as needed while they also allow the designers to layer the plantings in a small space.
To provide lush privacy screening, the designers planted evergreen bamboo which they let grow tall, but keep trimmed at the base to keep it from growing too full. A specimen Japanese maple lives happily in a corner offering some contrast to the surrounding shrubbery.
Glazed ceramic pots, above, surround the antique doors whose mirrored interior reflects light and gives the illusion of an entrance to perhaps…a greenhouse?
Meditative Village Backyard
It took the owner-architects four years to completely gut and renovate their 1840’s Federal building, a former stable on the edge of Washington Square Park.
The result is a stunning and spacious layout that extends down to the flagstone back patio and garden where various outdoor “rooms” offer serenity and respite from the commotion at their doorstep.
Artist Victoria Bell’s sculpture keeps company with bamboo in a Zen corner of the garden.
“Every piece of the garden is a special memory for us,” explained the owner. One corner represents the Northwest Woods, another the owner’s native Provence, and another is reminiscent of Japan.
A slate corner Koi pond, above, is cocooned within the graphic green trellis, softened with flowering vines.
Mingling with the Boxwood, Crabapple, Wisteria, and Redbud blend their pink and aubergine hues with the surrounding deep green of the surrounding vines and fencing.
Vines climb the trellis arbor adding a pink punch to corner that recalls the owner’s native Provence.
Lettuce grows in a hanging basket by the garden steps.
Photos weren’t permitted in the last garden on the tour, so you’ll have to take my word that sipping wine and nibbling hors d’oeuvres on that terrace overlooking the flowering garden below…well, words alone can not adequately describe the fantasy I had that this was my own special urban garden.
Marie-Dominique Deniau Sorman, former garden columnist for Madame Figaro, curated the private gardens tour. After studying at the Ecole de Paysage de Versailles, she began writing about gardens and also served as member of the Jury de la Presse for the Journée des Plantes de Courson, the French equivalent of the Chelsea Flower Show. For twenty years, she’s been designing and cultivating gardens in Paris and Normandy and now splits her time between Paris and New York.
The Art de Vivre program is directed by Melissa Ceria, former freelance journalist and Editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Time Style & Design, NY Times Style Magazine, Departures, and Ralph Lauren.