GROUNDSKEEPING is about my travels for my life’s work, keeping Eye of the Day fresh and exciting not just for me, but our clients and customers. I am always trying to find what others are seeking for their designs. Like a chef experimenting with ingredients and flavors to interest his public, I look for those things that different places and cultures want and need, and that architecture requires for exteriors to be in harmony with structures.
Recently I decided to return to the East Coast, which is the market we ship to more and more frequently. While walking throughout New York and Boston my goal was to come up with new ideas and directions.
Revisiting and walking the length of Central Park, one of my favorite urban places on earth, was a specific goal. It is 2.9 miles long (in a straight line), but my meandering probably added another half mile or so. Fredrick Law Olmsted was a remarkable genius and I marvel at his accomplishments. The Ramble is still my favorite area of all. It is hard to believe you’re in the city at all.
As I approached the northern end I came to the Conservatory Garden, the only formal garden in the Park. It’s truly an intense, wonderful experience for garden lovers. I recommend that you go to Google images for more wonderful photos. From the corner of 110th Street I took the bus down 5th Avenue to my reward, lunch at Gramercy Tavern. I needed plenty of oysters to soothe my soul and rest my sore feet.
Next, I traveled to Boston ($24.50 one-way bus ticket) to compare cities and get a better feel for this historic place and the homes and offices of its famous residents. Boston is to NYC as Santa Barbara is to LA; while it is a major city and urban center, it feels much more intimate.
Boston Public Garden, like Central Park, is right in the center of the city; it’s smaller, but very dynamic. The 24-acre park was the first public botanic garden in the USA, established in 1837. My favorite site is the magnificent bronze statue of George Washington on his horse.
Across the street from the Park is Beacon Hill. The word “historic” doesn’t begin to do justice to this neighborhood. Walking its narrow streets is not for those of weak ankle. I immediately saw what I was looking for, something you rarely see in the West: window boxes. They were everywhere and many decorated for Halloween.
I could have walked all day through the streets of Beacon Hill, taking pictures of the Federal style homes packed side by side sporting window boxes below every wonderfully fenestrated opening. San Francisco, Pasadena, and Brentwood: why don’t you have any window boxes? They are jewelry for the home. Designers, what are you afraid of? I want window boxes. I have window boxes.
Next, my pilgrimage led me to the unassuming home office of Frederick Law Olmsted in Brookline, Massachusetts. This is the location where The Master worked on his brilliant, timeless designs. The Park Rangers and volunteers were wonderful, helpful and spunky. It is moments from downtown Boston, just a short cab ride.
Finally: the fountain I stumbled upon when I walked through Boston’s main library. In the courtyard is a fountain that replaces my favorite for many years, The Electric Fountain at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. In the courtyard of Boston’s public library is the most wonderful fountain, Frederick MacMonnies’ Bacchante and Infant Faun.
In its unique setting it is difficult to think of another fountain I’ve seen in my travels that could make me smile more.
Where to next??