Like the well-mannered guest that it was, winter 2015-16 took its decorous leave of us with a bittersweet souvenir on the first day of spring. The trees and grounds – but not the roads – were covered in soft clumps of snow that resembled cotton plants or the landscapes in Japanese woodblock prints.
It was against this ironic but beautiful backdrop that the New York Botanical Garden held a press luncheon at its Hudson Garden Grill to share news about big plans for its 125th anniversary season.
Next year will find the Garden celebrating with a show by Dale Chihuly, whose dynamic, organic glassworks galvanized the Garden in 2006. Why bring him back for the 125th anniversary? Apart from Chihuly being a big name known for his inventiveness, the Garden has new spaces for him to explore, like the Native Plant Garden, that weren’t around 10 years ago. Scoping them out recently, Chihuly was like “a kid in a candy store,” said Todd Forrest, the Garden’s Arthur Ross vice president for horticulture and living collections. If memories of the 2006 show serve us, that’s exactly how we’ll feel when we see the new works dotting the 250-acre site.
But we don’t have to wait until then for botanical excitement. May 14 through Sept. 11 will bring art and garden lovers “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas,” which plumbs the relationship between the formal landscape here and artists like Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and John H. Twachtman, who explored it in a crisper, more muscular style of Impressionism that was distinctly American. These artists worked singly and together, often in summer colonies that dot Connecticut in particular. Among the works in the show are watercolors of Pocantico Hills that Sargent did while doing his oil portrait of one of its most famous residents, John D. Rockefeller.
In the meantime, enjoy “The Orchid Show: Orchidelirium” (through April 17 in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory), which considers the mania the Victorians had for this versatile, seductive, prodigious group of plants. This breathtaking story is accompanied by “Orchid Evenings,” suitable for date night.
And then there’s one of WAG’s favorite events – the “Antique Garden Furniture Fair” (April 29 through May 1).
In this the season of rebirth – as Christians in the Western rite celebrate the feast of Easter this Sunday – we know many of you will be heading to the Garden as part of your spring rite.
We hope to see you there. And from all of us at WAG, Happy Easter and Happy Spring.
For more, visit nybg.org. And look for more on the New York Botanical Garden’s 125th anniversary in WAG’s May “Celebrating Our Spring Fling” issue. – Georgette Gouveia