Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yorkshire Museum Gardens Are Hauntingly Beautiful At All Hallows' Eve

In the city of York, in North Yorkshire, England, 
there is a small botanical garden at the Yorkshire Museum. 

I made an unplanned visit to the museum garden last Fall as 
I was walking through town from the train station 

to see the famous York Minster Cathedral.

 The museum (above) and gardens are situated next to the River Ouse.
The property is both beautiful and haunting at the same time.

The museum grounds, like this medieval walled city, has an ancient past stretching over two millennia. The above photos show remnants of the corner tower of a Roman fortress built in 70 AD and rebuilt in the 3rd or 4th centuries.

It was cloudy and gray the day I visited, and there was a chill in the air.  The leaves were the colors of gold and orange during the first week of November; still, I had the chance to see some of the last bright blooms of the season.

This 10-acre garden was planted in the 1830's. There is a large expanse of lawn,

lovely trees, including alder, hornbeam, willow and ash;

 garden beds, such as American prairie style, and a rock garden;

and interesting architecture. The stone ground floor of the above Hospitium building is medieval, while the timber-styled first floor was rebuilt in the 20th century.

And yet, what I remember most from one year ago is not a stately tree or a striking bloom, but stone wall remains from an old abbey building. St. Mary's Abbey was built in 1088.  It was once a wealthy and powerful Benedictine monastery.

It was a treat to see this ancient wall, with gorgeous archways, framed by colorful and even bare trees. What a stunning backdrop for a botanical garden. 

But that's the point where things got a little spooky.

Just behind the abbey wall there is an old graveyard on the back property of  St. Olave's church. It was littered with fallen leaves and separated from the garden by a black, spiky wrought iron fence. It was as if Vincent Price was going to jump out from behind a tombstone to say "BOO" and then do that scary laugh.

It was quite a sight.  I was looking at a sarcophagus and lots of tombstones. 
Some were tilting, and all of them were dirty from age and covered with green mossy growth.  Perhaps it does fit right in with the ruins on these hallowed grounds with remnants of buildings constructed about a thousand years ago.

That's when the dirt, moss and shadows on some of the tombstones started to play tricks on my eyes and my imagination.

I saw ghost-like outlines of  faces on these two tombstones. While I sit here writing I also see a small, slender woman in a long black dress on the right side of the front tombstone.  My husband sees a woman in a wedding dress in the back tombstone.  Now, I am haunted by all four of the ghosts. 
What do you see?

So what better time to visit the Yorkshire Museum Gardens than on All Hallows' Eve, October 31st, or Dia De Los Muertos, Novermber 1-- the day my Mexican friends celebrate the "Day Of The Dead."  I wish you more treats than tricks and a Happy Halloween!

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2012 by jayro. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lincoln Park Conservatory Preserves Plants--And Some Childhood Memories

 Sweet home Chicago. 

Over the summer I visited the Windy City and I was able to 
      visit a familiar and favorite garden of mine: the Lincoln Park Conservatory. 

Of all the landmarks in the Windy City that provoke pleasant childhood memories, the two at the top of my list would be Wrigley Field and the Conservatory. I lived near "the friendly confines of Wrigley Field" and the time I spent watching the Cubs play baseball from the grandstands, for me, was like being at summer camp.

And Lincoln Park wasn't too far away either; it's in the shadow of the Loop and
 just off the iconic Lake Shore Drive. And while the lawn outside the conservatory suffered from unusual drought this past summer,

on the inside, all is right with the world. It's been years since my last visit but just walking in, seeing the lily pond and the paths lined with tropical plants, I was instantly transported back in time.

Inside, it still looks like the jungle I remember as a child--filled with palms, orchids and all sorts of plants that would never survive the frigid Chicago winter outside the obscure glass windows. 

Such as the lovely Lollipop plant (Pachystachys Lutea),

 the Shrimp plant (Justicia Brandegeana),


and even Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides).

On most days the humidity is the first thing one notices upon walking into this greenhouse, but on this day--with the temperature in the high 90's in the city in July and the humidity about the same--it is difficult to discern any difference between outside and inside.

My father loved the park and he frequently took me and my sister after church for a walk in the conservatory or the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is right next door. My mother loved attending the special flower shows at the conservatory and we always took photos, dressed in our Sunday best, against the backdrop of plants and flowers, such as lilies or poinsettias, depending on the season.

While much of my old stomping grounds have changed--for the good--still, I take comfort that things haven't changed too much inside here. I don't want to bog you down with too much sentiment, but it occurs to me that because I grew up living in a city apartment without a garden, Lincoln Park and the Conservatory is sort of the garden of my childhood.

Outside, the colorful summer borders in the formal gardens in front of the conservatory were holding up

and just across the street  

the informal borders of day lilies and hydrangeas of "Grandmother's Garden" 

 attracted local artists.

Coneflower (Echinacea)

 To quote a rock star (Jon Bon Jovi), "Who says you can't go home?"
I would suggest that we do go home--if only now and then. 
It is like comfort food for the soul.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2012 by Jeannine. All Rights Reserved.