I eagerly anticipate appearing as the Kevin Nicolay lecturer at the Northwest Perennial Alliance’s meeting on Sunday March 16, 2014. If you are in the area, I encourage you to join me as I investigate what the Olmsted Brothers (my sons!) did to design this country’s third largest municipal parks system. The time is 1:00 PM at The Center for Urban Horticulture on East 41st Street.
Monthly Archives: March 2014
Chambersburg Master Gardeners and Olmsted’s Civil War Experience
“What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party.” –Henry David Thoreau
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” –John F. Kennedy
It’s been nearly a century since the great fire of Chambersburg was ignited as one of the penultimate acts of defiance by rebels under orders from Brig. Gen John McCausland.
As the only major community burned down by Confederate forces during the Civil War, the borough had failed to provide a ransom of $500,000 in US currency or $100,000 in gold when the town was invaded for the third time on July 30, 1864. It was from Chambersburg that John Brown staged weapons and ammunition in the run-up to his ill-fated attack on Harper’s Ferry in 1859.
Mary Ritner kept a boarding house at 225 East King Street. John Brown and several of his co-conspirators rented rooms from her while planning the take-over of the federal depot. The town was a center for abolitionist sentiments and served as a way station to the Underground Railroad because of its service as a railroad junction.
In the intervening ninety-nine plus years, gardeners have been extremely busy beautifying the city. This year, dozens of them came together under the banner of the State Master Gardener’s Association to celebrate at their annual banquet.
Let me state unequivocally: Frederick Law Olmsted is an abolitionist. I wrote extensively of my travels through the slave states of Alabama, Louisiana and Texas in “A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States; With Remarks on Their Economy.” Nothing about the system is sustainable.
Landscape design and execution, on the other hand can be very sustainable. The art and theory of Landscape Design should be extended as a perfect way to solve the problems facing human kind by urban crowding, general health of the population, and natural preservation. Without it we are simply abusers of the wealth given by God that we have been charged with stewarding.
Centennial Celebration: Olmsted Dedication in Central Park
“It has always been, and still is, my intention to build a playground in Central Park.” –Diana Ross
“My parents weren’t around much, but I assumed everybody’s family was the same. I didn’t know people had mummies and daddies who would give them milk and cookies after school. I just thought everybody lived on Central Park West and they had a nanny to take care of them.” –Stephen Sondheim
The Garden Club of America celebrated its 100th anniversary by restoring a two-acre section of Central Park. The site selection, official approvals, initial groundbreaking and final dedication ceremonies were all completed in collaboration with the Central Parks Conservancy.
GCA committed its 2013 Founders Fund for this special Centennial Project.
As this portion of the park was originally envisioned by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the woodland’s edge design brought a nature’s experience to inner city residents.
Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg proclaimed June 3, 2013 as ‘The Garden Club of America Day’ in New York City to coincide with the formal dedication ceremony.
The restored landscape planting is at the East 69th Street entrance to Central Park and is only blocks away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Representatives from all 50 states’ Garden Clubs were present as the director of the Central Parks Conservancy, President of the Garden Clubs of America, and notable committee members spoke to the historic principles of natural preservation recognized by this partnership.
Frederick Law Olmsted was present at the ceremonies as delivered by his amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown. The day was spectacular in the warmth of a summer sun and singularity of the gardeners’ passionate dedication to their art.