Garden Diary - November 2009

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Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, Part 2

There's so much to see that the holiday train show needed two entries to do it justice. (The other one is here if you have not already seen it.) If I've whetted your appetite, keep in mind that the holiday train show is open from November 21, 2009 through January 10, 2010. Tickets may be purchased here on-line, so you won't have to wait at the ticket booth once you arrive at the botanic garden. A popular event, let me suggest that if possible, you visit during the week or early in the day to avoid crowds. The week between Christmas and New Year's is very popular with peak visitation.

Having circled the Palm Court reflecting pool it's time to enter the seasonal display gallery.

This year's pièce de résistance is Pennsylvania Station.

Built in 1910, the original Pennsylvania Station was an outstanding masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style.

The facade of Pennsylvania Station along 7th Avenue
image from the National Park Services Historic American Buildings Survey
One of the architectural jewels of New York City, the air rights were auctioned off in 1962
and demolition of the above-ground portions of the structure began in October 1963.
Today it stands again, thanks to the wonderworks of Paul Busse and Applied Imagination

Here is a link to a lovely article by Annette Skinner in the New York Botanical Garden's blog Plant Talk
decribing the collaborative efforts that go into building the winter wonderland of the holiday train show.

Peer closely at the facade and you may catch a glimpse of the trains in the station.

Under the portico, the left hand portion, there's a tiny bench for tired passengers.
Paired eagles and the stately clock atop the facade. Loving attention to detail.


No wonder Paul Busse and Annette Skinner (she's a landscaper for this project)
look so happy. How many of us can say that our vocation and avocation
are one and the same, that our work is play, and makes others happy too.

2009 is the year the Yankees won the World Series.

Alas, it did not happen in the old, 1923 Yankee Stadium, another structure that's no longer standing.

Paul Busse updated his charming model, using a copper grid behind
high intensity LED lights each carefully socketed in an acorn cap.
And what's more, they work.

The original 14 Art Deco buildings of Rockefeller Center were built between May 1930 and November 1939.
An iconic part of New York City, particularly now, with the winter ice skating rink and stately Christmas tree.

Prometheus and the Christmas angels at Rockefeller Center. Elegant rosemary standards create an allée.

The landscaping is what Annette visualizes, then creates. She likes changes in grade that add dimension,
with rocks to stabilize and add appeal. Moss is better than grass which needs to be "mown" with small scissors.
Color harmonies, where vivid red and orange flowers of kalenchoe combine attractively with the hot, tie-die
colors of croton leaves, and miniature pink cyclamen snuggle up to hypoestes with similar hues.

There's a Victorian appeal to many of the buildings and structures, such as the Gothic Revival of the
Hurst Pierrepont Estate, dating back to 1867, with the original located in Garrison, New York.

Then there is the Charles Ward Apthorp mansion, dating back to 1764. One of the grandest
pre-Revolutionary houses on the island of Manhattan, it stood on the rise of ground between
what are now 90th & 91st Streets, and Columbus & Amsterdam Avenues. Demolished in 1892.
A Loyalist, colonial lawyer Charles Ward Apthorp built the house on his 200-acre farm.
I like the appealingly landscaped entrance with arching flower stalks of mint green echeverias.

I hasten to assure you that there's even more to be seen than the highlights I'm presenting to you.
If you must, borrow a child to justify your visit. But understand it is a delight for one and all.
Remember, the holiday train show is open from November 21, 2009 through January 10, 2010.

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