Today would have been my mother's 95th birthday. Here she is in 1998 at the wedding of her youngest daughter in NYC. She's with her youngest granddaughter who is graduating from college this spring. Lovely day. Lasting memories.
When you grow up with interesting architecture, you grow up with an interest in architecture. Having done both, I'm convinced that beautiful buildings enter your bloodstream long before you are aware that it's happened. Buffalo, New York — the city where I grew up — has some of the best representative works of the nation’s three greatest architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only city other than Chicago that can claim that architectural trifecta. I've been familiar with their Buffalo work forever but it was only this past Spring that I finally made it inside some of those masterpieces.
I'd driven past Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building (Adler and Sullivan, 1895-96) for years but had never been inside. I think I may have made the right move by never going inside before as it finally has been restored to its glorious good looks which were never more evident than on a sunny Spring morning.
Sullivan called this building a "sister" to his Wainwright Building in St. Louis, where he first expressed the verticality of this new type of structure, the skyscraper. Sullivan, in fact, is considered the "Father of the Skyscraper." The book, "Buffalo Architecture: A Guide," calls this building Sullivan's "most mature skyscraper."
The book notes that the Guaranty Building expresses Sullivan's "commitment to democratic ideals, natural forms and to evolving a truly American architecture free of neoclassical excesses." The building's ornamentation was inspired by seedpods, flowers and at the top, the spreading branches of a tree.
Ornament — no matter the material — is clearly the focus of the building. Two full exterior surfaces are covered with terra cotta.
Inside are dramatic decorative metal work, stained glass and marble mosaics. The lobby was restored to simulate the original light court.
These have to be the most beautiful elevators in any commercial building in the country.
The workmanship and design is just breathtaking.
These original glass storefronts are business spaces and conference rooms. Talk about an office with a window!
You can tour the public spaces on the first floor and there is a room with beautiful architectural drawings and information about the history and design of the Guaranty Building. You can see from the reflection in the window that Buffalo is filled with great buildings and well-worth a stop next time you are in the area.
I love Wisteria but it's not a plant I'm likely to grown. I don't have the room or the sturdy structure it needs to grown on. I thought this was a particularly lovely presentation.
We saw this Wisteria adjacent to the visitor center at Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House when we visited it in Buffalo. When we looked more closely we discovered the fence has periodic metal support posts screwed into concrete — just what Wisteria needs.
One of my favorite garden bloggers — Erin, the Impatient Gardener — just wrote about a private garden that she toured recently. What I was most taken with in that garden were the conifers. When we stopped at the Cleveland Botanical Garden at the beginning of the summer, strolling through their conifers was one of the highlights of our visit.
The variety of colors, textures, sizes and shapes was noteworthy.
Since I love both sharply pruned evergreens and weepers, I loved this walkway with its weeping evergreen arch.
We have a weeping white pine that I keep telling Mark could be turned into an arch we could walk under. So we paid particular attention to how this was done in Cleveland.
Rebar is what holds it together and gives it a stable structure.
This arch uses two specimens, one on each side of the arch. But in a small home garden, I think you might be able to get away with just one substantial weeper to create a similar effect.
This week began with more rain: the fourth wet Monday in a row. Last Monday, July 6, the rain turned the driveway into the mucky mess seen below. Mark and Matt gave up in disgust.
The next day, however, Matt brought in a couple of landscaper friends and the three of them, along with Mark, made great progress — despite the wet conditions.
First Matt put tubing from one side of the driveway to the other so if we ever want to add outdoor lighting, there is a way to get the wires to the other side without having to remove the pavers.
While he worked on that project, the guys pulled out and took away all of the remaining driveway concrete. Then they started to dig out the mud and bring in gravel. Three loads of clay soil went out and three loads of gravel came in. The gravel was spread out by hand, using little blue "Guido" and with large equipment. Check it out!
By the end of the week the driveway had gone from this . . .
to this! Suddenly it's all coming together. (You wet down the gravel before compacting each successive layer.)
To follow all the stages of this project, click on Driveway Project in the categories list.
We have a few small grindstones in our garden but nothing like the ones used as hardscaping in the Herb Garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden which we visited on our recent trip out east. A magnificent contrast to all the aromatic plants surrounding them.
Back home to our lush landscape after 12 days on the road across six states covering a total of 1,696.8 miles. Went out East to see two of my sisters, nieces and nephew and great nephews, including two new baby boys — and attend my 50th high school reunion. Visited six cities in three states and enjoyed wonderful art galleries, botanic gardens, independent bookstores and memorable architecture.
Could not resist taking a picture of this wall of rhodies as we drove out of Westfield, NY on our way home. You will never see a rhododendron this big in Wisconsin, so it was worth pulling over in a no-parking zone to capture this memory!
Whenever we visit a garden, public or private, we always look for ideas for our own garden. On this visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden we paid particular attention to foliage plants. We're looking to add more shrubs to the garden, so seeing mature specimens is the ideal way to gauge what might suit our situation.
The first plant that caught our eye was this Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanense 'compacta'. I have been growing the regular size version of this Korean Rhododendron for the past ten years with few problems. Since it's hardy to Zone 4, my larger plant came through our miserable winter with no damage other than lighter bloom count than prior years. But I love the idea of this Rhodie as a groundcover shrub, suitable for shade to part shade! Until I saw this variety I had no idea there was a version with such a low, tight profile. The biggest problem will likely prove to be finding a source for it.
The next surprise we discovered was this beautiful Korean Arborvitae: Thuja koraiensis 'Glauca prostrata.' We first thought it was a Russian Arborvitae until we saw the tag. Russian arborvitae (Microbiota decussata) is a Zone 3 shrub capable of growing in full sun to part shade, making it a very versatile plant for Northern gardeners. We have 3 of them in different locations in our garden.
This Korean version is hardy to Zone 5, full sun to part shade. Though I am trying to steer clear of Zone 5 plants, this grows low enough that snow cover should protect it.
We snapped this photo of a Weeping Beech since we are also growing one: Fagus sylvatica 'Purple Fountain.' This is to remind us of what it will do if left to its own devices. Ours will need some pruning down the road to keep it within the space allotted for it.
We are also growing two Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) trees and two shrubby versions. We bought one of the trees under the impression it was a weeping variety but it is growing outward and eating up space. It had not occurred to either of us that we might sharply prune it to the size and shape we want. Clearly this trio of Metasequoia glyptostroboides trees have been seriously sheared. Up close we could see branch tips that had been cut off and the new growth seemed to be growing more upward than outward, a solution that would be perfect for our tree.
Two other shrubs that caught our eye were Magnolia stellata 'Waterlily,' a Star Magnolia pruned into a big globe. And a wonderful Northern Bayberry that came out of the Chicagoland Grows program: Myrica pensylvanica 'Morton Male.' Both of these are Zone 4 plants and given all the sun we now have in the garden from loss of big trees, they might actually prosper in our garden now.