NYC City Gardens, 1920-1922 : The Photographs of Frances Benjamin Johnston (Pt 1 of 2)

NYC City Gardens, 1920-1922 : The Photographs of Frances Benjamin Johnston (Pt 1 of 2)

Extraordinary color photos of City Gardens of NYC in the 1920s by Frances B. Johnston.

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A Sense of Place

 Gate in an ancient yew hedge at Levens Hall, England's oldest garden.

Gate in an ancient yew hedge at Levens Hall, England's oldest garden.

The art of landscape design is by its nature ephemeral. While we have both histories of architecture and the buildings which date back sometimes millennia to experience our connection to the past, the history of gardens usually relies upon descriptions, drawings and plans from earlier eras to describe what once was (or to recreate what once was). One exception is the extraordinary Levens Hall garden in northern England, which was designed in the 1690s. 

 Topiary, Levens Hall, England.

Topiary, Levens Hall, England.

Levens Hall garden has been continuously maintained since its first days, in the 1690s and many of its topiary are 300 years old. It has walls of beech and yew hedging, a potager garden, an orchard, a rose garden, a bowling green, a "wilderness," and other mysterious, less purposeful but extremely atmospheric rooms. Its original owner, before the garden was commenced, lost the property through gambling ("Colonel James Grahme acquired the property, and the old tradition that Levens was won with the turn of the Ace of Hearts probably has some foundation in fact" --the estate's website).

 Levens Hall, yew hedge (windows, crenellations, and doorway).

Levens Hall, yew hedge (windows, crenellations, and doorway).

A sense of place abides here with centuries of footsteps, sharing the path with those strolling before by 10, 50, 90, 150, 300 years. At the same time, the architecture is mostly living, and when you realize that the current head gardener is only the 10th since the 1690s, that this living artwork has roots which connect you directly to the past. . . . It is not an ordinary feeling.

 Topiary garden at Levens Hall

Topiary garden at Levens Hall

 Levens Hall : house and its topiary garden.

Levens Hall : house and its topiary garden.

For more about this garden : http://www.levenshall.co.uk/levens-hall-gardens-historic-topiary-in-cumbria/garden-history.html