5.07.2010

THE DREAM THAT WAS EMILY'S GARDEN

The New York Botanical Garden certainly knows how to do things right. No other public garden in the country comes close when staging an event--last month's Orchid Show was beyond anyone's wildest dreams. And this month's Emily Dickinson display is no exception. (She is so beloved to me, and her poetry is so intimately strange, that I must call her Emily.) The grounds are ringing with poetry, printed on boards strategically placed throughout. The library contains rare manuscripts and other treasures. And the conservatory is blooming with all the plants that Emily would have cultivated in her own garden--along with small boards inscribed with poems she wrote about them.
   The scholarship underpinning this show is meticulous--though it is strange to see daffodils in full bloom along with foxgloves. But what's wrong with reaching for a dream? And the dream here is to bring to life the very atmosphere Emily breathed as she wrote--even her small wooden desk, and the view out her bedroom window, is recreated. A strangled sob rose in my throat when I saw that. Not only are the colors of the flowers striking (I can't remember seeing deeper, more vivid blues and purer whites), but the perfume that hangs in the conservatory air is exquisite. It is poignant to realize how short the dazzling season truly was in New England. The facade of her handsome house, and that of her neighbor's house, to which she was connected by a woodland path, are replicated. This is garden theater at its very best.
   I have long loved Dickinson's poetry, but had not read it in a long time. This show does what the best experiences always do--it slows you down, and even makes you lose track of time--hours and centuries fly by; it gives you something wonderful to think about, and, best of all, inspires you to return to some of the books you once loved, and then lost. Lifetime English majors take notice: attendance required! No excuses! You'll never see anything like this again. Manhattanites afraid to cross the river--take a train out of Grand Central and get out across the street from the garden! The Poetry of Flowers (runs through June 13th) is a perfect SLOW LOVE experience--it is the kind of thing we all tell ourselves we'll get to, and then, time flies by and we've missed it...I can't think of a better Mother's Day invitation.
    So call someone--lover, friend, parent, child--prepare a picnic, roll up a soft blanket, and make sure you pack a volume of Emily's poems. (And if you haven't got one, make your first stop the sparkling gift shop.) Stroll, wonder, exclaim, eat, drink, and read poems out loud to each other. You'll thank me for being so pushy.

I HIDE myself within my flower,
  That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too—
And angels know the rest.

17 comments:

lostpastremembered said...

A great way to spend Mother's Day... roaming the paths of Emily's garden with beautiful words all around and the sweet quiet of the flowers... quiet enough for a heart to have its rest for a while with a scented lullaby... I love your poem! Have a great MD, Dominique.

andrea said...

I'm so jealous. I moved from NJ to Boston last year. We loved the Botanical Garden. We saw the Darwin show last year, always went to the train show, saw the Moore's in the garden and the Chihuly exhibit a couple years ago. I loved visiting that place. The lilacs are probably out now too, my favorites.

Karena said...

Oh, how gorgeous Dominique! We have Powell Gardens which is a lovely spot as well.

Karena

Art by Karena

abirdinhand63 said...

Absolutely beautiful!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Lord, I wish my front garden looked like that. Or even half as nice.

The Buzz said...

Planning on playing hooky and visiting the gardens next week... What a lovely post!

Maria Petrova said...

Oh I've been so eager to see this!!! Thank you for this post! So much love to you!

EMILY said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I've never been to the NYBC eventhough I've been to NYC many many times. I was actually named after Ms. Dickinson and I decided after reading this that I had to see this exhibit with my mom - no matter that I live in Florida and the exhibit closes in a month. I just booked my ticket for the 1st weekend in June and will be enjoying this beautiful garden with my mom! Thanks for the inspiration.

Blogster on Elm said...

I will have to get there to see the show. We love your book.Please come for a book event in New Canaan, CT. Elm Street Books soon!
elmstreetbooks.blogspot.com
kathleen@elmstreetbooks.com

Sally@DivineDistractions said...

Well, I can't get to NYC for the gardens, so I'll just have to bring a little Emily to me. Better go find that Norton's Anthology from college!
Enjoy the event. I looks so beautiful.

Donna, The Decorated House said...

Thanks for sharing a little bit of this marvelous event with those of us too far away to see it in person!

cvanlang said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers..." Yes, I do hope to be able to come back and spend some slow love time in NY and its surrounding boroughs. Thank you.

Joan said...

I would love to see this exhibit- it sounds so wonderful. I did visit Longwood Gardens just this past Wednesday with my husband to celebrate our 30th anniversary. It was a beautiful day in a lovely place.
I just finished reading Slow Love and enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day to all.

Denis said...

How very much I enjoyed The Dream That Was Emily’s Garden!

The Poetry of Flowers…

"Intrusiveness of flowers is brooked even by troubled hearts.
They enter and then knock — then chide their ruthless sweetness, and then remain forgiven.
May these molest as fondly!"
– Emily Dickenson

Anonymous said...

These pictures are now on my desk top and I smile every morning to see them. Thank you.

Farmgirl Susan said...

What a gorgeous photo. It's my dream garden! And it sounds like a dream event. I don't usually miss being hundreds of miles from a big city, but once in a while the ache to see things like this (and art museums!) is fierce. I would love to lose myself for an afternoon in this stunning display. The attention to every little detail sounds amazing. And I just love that they've filled the garden with poetry. Thanks for the gorgeous glimpse.