Welcome to our “Flower Power” issue, and all I can say is that after the winter we’ve had, we so deserve it.
I mean, did you think it would ever end? It was like “The Man Who Came to Dinner” – staying on and on and on.
Fortunately, it’s now one for the record books, and you’re ready to don your Lilly Pulitzers (see Wear), pull up a patio chair and inhale the sweet perfume – see fragrance story – of May WAG. We’re all about the pretty stuff this month as we stop to smell the roses (see Wit), tiptoe through the tulips (with Ronni, our resident bulb whisperer) and cultivate our gardens with people like cover girl Jenny du Pont – yes, yes, of the du Ponts – who brings her passion for gardening and expertise in the nonprofit arena to the Garden Conservancy in Garrison, which has done so much for all of us by making exceptional private gardens here and elsewhere available to the public during its Open Days program.
Is there anything more magical, more intimate, more romantic than a garden, with its sensuous sculptures, secret allées and stone or topiary walls to shut out the world, if only for a bit? Cappy, our happy wanderer, takes us to some of the greatest, echoing Ronni’s tulip story and Audrey’s exploration of the Chinese garden, with its fanciful, symbolic architectural elements. It is said that a Western garden is developed, but a Chinese garden is built.
There are echoes of both Cappy’s wanders and Audrey’s Chinese gardens in our feature on The New York Botanical Garden’s “Groundbreakers” exhibit, which salutes the women who shaped America’s gardens at the dawn of the 20th century. They include Beatrix Farrand, who created the Asian-infused Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine. Farrand would also create The Botanical Garden rose garden that would ultimately become the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, named for the wife of Abby’s youngest child, David.
How does our garden grow this month? It blooms with individuals who have taken an idea and made it blossom – fashion fave Rolando Santana; Urban Gardens blogger Robin Plaskoff Horton; Blondie’s Treehouse owner Howard K. Freilich; new Surf Club on the Sound owner Anthony Martello; jeweler Danielle Gori-Montanelli; artist Peter Max; humorist Mo Rocca; comedian Joan Rivers; and Oscar de la Renta, whose homes and gardens, like his couture, teem with life.
So careers in bloom are a big sub-theme. (You know how we can’t resist a good sub-theme or metaphor.) Another big sub-theme this month is the butterfly, as you’ll see in our overview and our feature on artist Kathleen Griffin, whose plans to transform the Smallpox Hospital ruin on Roosevelt Island with butterfly sculptures could 2015’s version of Christo’s “The Gates.”
Butterflies flit through my house, so to speak. They grace my jewelry box, my botanical kitchen, my bookshelves, even my special spring apron, thanks to Aunt Mary. She always stopped to watch them during our many visits at The Botanical Garden. I remember once taking her to the enchanting “Butterfly Conservatory” at the American Museum of Natural History, and she was entranced by a tiny white butterfly that alighted on my white sweater. She was just crazy for butterflies. So much so that I gave her a silver necklace with a butterfly pendant that never left her neck.
Until the day she died. Then I removed it and put it on my own after I said, “I love you. Thanks.”
It alights now always on my throat, a remembrance of the transforming power of love.