Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Italian Blue Pool Garden at 'Planting Fields'

The gate to the Italian Blue Pool Garden designed by Guy Lowell c. 1915 at 'Planting Fields', the William R. Coe estate in Oyster Bay. Click HERE for more on the Italian Blue Pool Garden and 'Planting Fields'.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

They did a great job with the pool garden with the exception of those cheap plastic cherub urns.

Anonymous said...

They are going to restore the pool in the Camellia House. It turns out that all the original tile is still there and in fine shape.

Now if they just would get rid of that resin fountain....between that and those cherub urns makes you think they had a gift certificate for Home Depot they needed to use in a hurry.

The Down East Dilettante said...

In maintaining these places after owners and designers have left, and ownership and decisions are by committee, it is very hard to keep them looking 'right' (as so far does Old Westbury, for example). Corners get cut, people who shouldn't be allowed to get ideas get ideas, and good intentions and strained budgets do the rest. I've watched several once beautiful historic landscapes up here come completely undone. Such a tough call---especially when people's intentions are good. There's a real art to knowing where the vine should be pruned, how to keep the shrubbery in scale, and getting the right color for a basin or pool...

The Down East Dilettante said...

One of the saddest examples in the country is Vizcaya, America's greatest Italian garden. The lovely bones are hard to damage, but the maintenance of plantings is almost embarrassing----and VERY sad---there is clearly no guiding 'eye' or comprehensive training at work, and every year, it is scruffier and scruffier, and further from the designer's intent.

Garden restoration makes house restoration look easy by comparison---there are so many more ephemeral considerations

lil' gay boy said...

DED, I think that Welwyn is also a sad example of lack of direction.

The gardens there were at one time (long ago) formidable, but know the sad attempt at restoration of the west garden is a case in point; as much as it cheers me to see the effort being made on what is no doubt a shoestring budget, its neither an historical recreation nor even an homage. The sad result is a lovely space that wouldn't look out of place in front of any Hilton.

Security word - jiterfic: that almost perfectly straight freehand-drawn line spoiled by one too many espressos.

magnus said...

Anon 9:16- If you are referring to the urns at the entry to the Blue Garden- they're actually lead and original (called "hush boy" urns "in the trade", as the cherubs have their fingers to their lips in a "shhh" gesture). All in all, I think that this restoration is first rate and faithful- while I agree that the wisteria at either end and the Versaille planters lining each side of the pool would not be my choice,contemporary photographs indicate that they were part of the original execution, if not intent. Nassau County does many things horribly (LGB- you are so right about that garden at Welwyn, and DED, as always, you describe committee taste perfectly), but I really think that this is one they got right.

The Down East Dilettante said...

LGB, I've looked at photos of the Welwyn garden---which I've never seen, and can only shudder. Clearly a committee decided it would be a good thing, and with all good intentions set out to make it as low maintenance as possible. Then those gawd awful modern paving bricks got selected (all brick is not created equal). The minute a 'restoration' is done with an eye to 'low maintenance', one can almost insure that stiff plantings and bad materials will follow.

Magnus, haven't been to Coe Hall in yrs. Relieved I am to hear that the urns impugned as plastic are actually lead. So much better, as long as one doesn't lick them.

Anonymous said...

magnus....I guess it's the Versaille planters I'm talking about....the four on each corner of the pool....nasty things.

magnus said...

Anon- I haven't seen them in the flesh yet- will check them out this week-end. They are, however, similar to photos of what was in the garden in the 1920's. As we all know, however, "the devil is in the details" and a good idea rendered in cheap materials is worse than doing nothing".

And DED- not to be too dramatic, but I weep when I look at the gardens at Welwyn. That pool garden is simply the worst thing that I've ever seen- the gardening equivalent of covering all your furniture in brown naugahyde simply because "it's practical".

Zach said...

For what it's worth... Welwyn is owned by Nassau County and Planting Fields by the State of NY. Clearly the State has their preservation efforts in better coordination than Nassau County does.

The Down East Dilettante said...

LOL, Have you ever seen the wonderful Staatsburgh---the Ogden Mills house by McKim, Mead & White on the Hudson. It's a New York State Property, and they've made some horrible choices there over the years---absolutely head scratchingly awful decisions.

Zach said...

Well I'm not going to defend the NY SHPO but given the sad and sorry state of Nassau properties I still think they do a better job...even if that doesn't mean much.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Zach, I have always been absolutely fascinated by Nassau County---all that tax revenue, and yet everywhere public neglect, even with well loved properties that should be income producers and stellar tourist attractions.