"We don't do rows," exclaimed Dr. Alexandra Munroe, curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim, during a preview of the upcoming Guild Hall Garden as Art tour. The Munroe/ Rosenkranz site features nine garden "rooms." Your eye may focus on the expansive croquet or tennis courts, but guiding visitors past a basket of today's crop, Dr. Munroe waxed passionate about artichokes from the vegetable garden, ready to steam and savor.
Dina Merrill's purples and pinks, Barbara Maclowe's photographic eye, interior designer Marshall Watson's curatorial lecture on the provenance of a candelabra escalier pear tree, and each berry and briar at his waterfront home, the passions generating each of this year's gardens illuminate more than the aesthetics of landscaping, but a genuine urgency about what we grow and the way we eat.
A quiet visit to Bob and Terry Weigel's vegetable patch, only two years old, erupts in the excited discovery of new bell peppers and cucumbers, perfect because the couple was expecting 17 guests for dinner this weekend. A plan emerged for a refreshing sliced cucumber hors d'oeuvre inspired by Osteria Salina's signature opener. The relationship of lofty principles of beauty to the quotidian and mundane matters of our lives is a theme worth exploring. These were some of the highlights of our tour on 24 July.
Of course everything growing in these spectacular gardens will change by August 21, except for the passions of the gardeners. And Guild Hall will augment the tour with a panel of experts; the local farms: Amber Waves, Balsam and Bhumi will offer specials to those on the tour.
By contrast, guests walked through a corridor of tall bamboo with figures in white in the bordering forest, as they entered the hallowed grounds at The Watermill Center on Saturday night. Evoking a fantasy of scary fanatics, or murderous fighters, one man, black sackcloth over his head, hacked away in a balletic pose with an axe. At the end of this path was a little house with a cacophonous band of musicians in red, wailing experimental. A rotund man crouched on a bench. Bare chested swains slept in beds along another path. This playful nightmare could balance the edenic charm of the garden as art tour at Guild Hall, as an artsy, barren, if ironic and unexpected, landscape of hell.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.