viernes, 1 de marzo de 2013

Night Gardens



The sun vanishes. The pearl of a moon rises. Magic happens.


By Cathy Newman

In the nocturnal narrative of a garden at night, the dramatis personae are wildly fragrant blooms that unfurl in darkness like jasmine, tuberose, gardenia; luna moths with wings the color of celadon; and scarab beetles iridescent as opals. The moon, which illuminates this stage, borrows its light from the sun. Its ashen light, the Greek philosophers knew, is reflected. A night garden invites reflection. Unlike the sun, the moon welcomes our gaze. We can wax poetic, wane with melancholy—howl, even—and admire the wonder of an obverse world where plants reach out, not to sunlight but to the faint glow flung to Earth by a diadem of stars.



The gardens of Kykuit, at the Rockefeller estate in Sleepy Hollow, New York, were planned for day or night display. A row of lindens leads to the perfection of the Temple of Aphrodite.


In Japan the nighttime viewing of cherry blossoms in spring, like these at Kyoto’s Hirano Shrine, is a special event. “The cherries’ only fault: the crowds that gather when they bloom,” wrote Saigyo, a 12th-century poet.


When a freak freeze killed the orchid collection on his Mexican estate, English eccentric Edward James created Las Pozas, a garden with surreal follies like the concrete Bamboo Palace—durable and immune to the vagaries of weather.


A starburst of night-blooming tropical water lilies lifts from the pools of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. The flowers open at dusk, then close the following morning.


Jade spires of bamboo flank a path curving up to Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto. The murmur of wind filtering through a bamboo grove is one of a hundred sounds the Japanese want preserved.


An Islamic garden, it is said, is a palace without a roof. Enthralled with the art of Islam, heiress Doris Duke created Shangri La, her estate in Honolulu. The central courtyard, with its antique Persian tiles, separates public and private space.
With permission of Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art


Like a midsummer night’s dream, a night-blooming cereus unfolds—luminous, fragrant, ephemeral. These blossoms grace the half-mile-long hedge at Punahou School in Honolulu, planted in 1836 by Sybil Bingham, wife of a missionary.


The orb of a moon gate provides passage to the Scholar’s Courtyard in the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon. Chinese tradition views a garden as the replication of an ideal landscape in miniature. “Truly in the midst of a city, there can be mountain and forest,” said the Ming dynasty scholar and artist Wen Zhengming.


“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers,” said French impressionist Claude Monet. He waited four years for his water garden at Giverny to bloom, before immortalizing it in paintings like “Water Lilies: Night Effect.”


A fete like this, in the sumptuous gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte, marked the beginning of the end for owner Nicolas Fouquet in 1661. Louis XIV came, saw, and coveted; he confiscated the property and imprisoned Fouquet.


To know Kykuit, said William Welles Bosworth, who designed its gardens, “one must experience ...  late evening when all is peacefully eloquent.”
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