This month we expand our annual flora and gardens issue to consider the landscapes of “Fascinating Botanicals.” Few have been more intriguing than the New York metro area and the Hudson Valley, which we explore in a group of related stories that take us from our opening essay, inspired by Rockefeller State Park Preserve’s Peony Celebration, to our story on the first American botanical garden, which now lies beneath Rockefeller Center; to the New York Botanical Garden, where you’ll enjoy the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, created by Beatrix Farrand (Laura’s story) and a summertime show on the protean Brazilian Modernist Roberto Burle Marx. (The Brazilians are indeed marvelous landscape architects as Mary discovers in a piece that looks in part on a new book about Hamptons designer Frederico Azevedo.)
Mary is also front and center for the New-York Historical Society’s blockbuster show “Hudson Rising,” which considers the river that has been so important to the science and culture of the valley that bears its name.
We continue our exploration of landscapes with “LandEscape,” a new exhibit of Modern and contemporary landscape painting at the Katonah Museum of Art (Jena’s story) and her profile of Brittany and Matthew Bromley, a Bedford-based interior designer and landscape architect who believe home and gardens go hand in hand.
Many of the people you’ll encounter in these pages are garden pros, like landscaper, restaurateur and, now, olive oil producer Val Morano Sagliocco, who weighs in on the olive oil crisis in Italy; and Sal Gilbertie, who takes Gina on a tour of Gilbertie’s Organic Petite Edibles and Herb Gardens in Easton. Others, like singer-songwriter Amy Ray of Indigo Girls, who’ll be performing in Fairfield and Pawling (Gregg’s story), and Bill Ruhrkraut, the new vice president and general manager of Bloomingdale’s White Plains, are gardening enthusiasts who have spent their share of time creating vegetable and Japanese gardens respectively.
Still others find inspiration in botanicals for art (Mary’s piece on Jackie Battenfield, whose blossom paintings are represented by Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont and, soon, Kent); home design (Mary’s story on Voutsa and our take on Insidherland); jewelry (Tiffany & Co.’s new Return to Tiffany Love Bugs Collection); skincare (Meghan’s look at Glow Recipe) and our report on Beauty Made in Italy); travel (Barbara’s visit to Kauai, Hawaii’s garden island and Jeremy’s journey to the Cotswolds in his native England) and, of course, food (Aleesia’s visit to Aesop’s Fable in Chappaqua, her last piece for WAG before moving on to a new job. How we will miss this rose.)
With Mother’s Day set for May 12, the floral tributes will no doubt be flowing. We have two Mother’s Day stories for you. Debbi and her sister Christine take the Big Apple where their 101-year-old mom Joanna steals the spotlight (and they wouldn’t have it any other way.) Then Jena talks with Ann Mara Cacase about her late mother, Ann T. Mara, the First Lady of Football and a formidable philanthropist.
If there is a subtheme this month, it’s that the land is dotted by meaning as each kind of plant has come to symbolize something special. Though cover subject Tracee Ellis Ross — who lent her vibrant presence to the recent benefit for Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, The Fund for Women & Girls — says her favorite flower is the tulip, she finds meaning in the strength and flexibility of trees, with their deep roots and adaptability to each season.
There is perhaps no more poignant expression of floral symbolism than in the poppy, emblem of our soldiers living and dead, as Phil reveals in one of his patented off-the-beaten path stories about Moina Michael, the Georgia woman who ensured the war dead would be honored and the living served through the poppy’s promotion.
We chart the pages of history for the flower-powered Plantagenets, the English royal dynasty named for the yellow broom flower their founder sported in his cap and brought to an end by the Wars of the Roses. Put it this way: “Game of Thrones” had nothing on them.
Even the peony has proved to be a protean symbol of war and peace, male and female.
It turns up three times as the favorite flower of our Wits. And speaking of our Wit column, which always ends our book, I’d like to give a shout-out to our associate publisher Anne Jordan Duffy, who went beyond the call of duty this month to ask the Wit question for us among the Badass Women of Fairfield County, founded by Mia Schipani, April 2 at The J House Greenwich.
There were no roses among the 12 answers to “What’s Your Favorite Flower?” — only among the respondents.
A 2018 Folio Women in Media Award winner, WAG magazine editor in chief Georgette Gouveia is the author of the new “The Penalty for Holding” (Less Than Three Press), a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and “Water Music” (Greenleaf Book Group). They’re part of her series of novels, “The Games Men Play,” also the name of the sports/culture blog she writes weekly installments of her “Daimon: A Novel of Alexander the Great” on wattpad.com.