Thursday, September 08, 2005

Innisfree Gardens

Fountain Jet & sunlight

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats
1892


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.


There is, not too far from here, a beautiful garden of the same name. Innisfree Garden is set around a scenic natural lake in Millbrook, NY. From their site: "Innisfree embraces the Eastern design concept of asymmetric balance that combines rhythm, pattern, space and form in a harmony independent of formal symmetry. In Western gardens little is hidden. The garden, like a stage set, is there in its entirety; its overall design revealed at a glance. The traditional Eastern garden hides this complete view. Visitors walk into a series of episodes or pictures and can enter the sequence of pictures wherever they choose. The rugged topography of the Innisfree site invariably enframes these pictures called cup gardens. A garden picture may be composed of several small cup gardens within the larger one.

Everywhere you walked, you seemed to enter a precise entity of natural beauty that had no formal or manmade enclosure, nor abrupt lines. The rocks and plants seemed to belong there and they were in harmony with each other as well as the space they inhabited. The natural ending of the space, or cup, was gently sloped into the hills or the lake. Nothing about the place was more striking than the seeming lack of manipulated space. It all was manipulated, of course, and that is the beauty and sheer genious of it. It was all painstakingly, or should I say, lovingly, designed and planned out.

I've been to many gardens in the US, England and Europe, but none like this. Don't expect rigid boxwood hedges and rose bushes in a row. You won't find much of anything "in a row" save the stone stairs and brick walkways, but even they seem less linear than normal, their harsh lines softened by the surrounding lush, cascading vines and plants.

As I walked throughout the gardens, I was amazed by the number of species of plants in any one little ten foot square area, although to measure the space in that way in this setting seems incongruent, as does using the word, "incongruent." Semantics aside, it was lovely. It was high noon when I was shooting, like most of my "kids are at school" outings, but I think I got a few shady shots. The sedum were at their most alluring color, the bright pink flowers with edges of burgundy starting, all atop the broad pale green leaves. The sedum was abuzz with bumble bees who didn't seem to mind me. Even a hummingbird graced me with his company, sitting high on a vine of wisteria in a quiet alcove looking out over the lake.

The lotus flowers on the lake were still blooming, wide open cups catching sunshine. I tried to get close to one to capture a backlit shot, but they were naturally protected by a deceiving layer of dry dirt over endlessly sinking mud. I got one shot (and a muddy shoe for my efforts) and a few more from the safety of the shore.

What I can't share with you here are the tranquil sounds of this garden. There are natural waterfalls and fountains on either side of the lake and one manmade water sculpture in a garden high on a hill. Even the rhythmic splashes of the water sprinkler (it's been tortuously dry here) sounded calming. And from the highest terraced gardens, you could still hear the fish coming to the surface for their lunch and geese could be heard squawking in the distance. On the far side of the lake, near where the geese take their afternoon shade, an air spring gushes right below the surface of the water. The bubbling and splashing can be heard well down the path. It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Here's a few shots from today's visit. (click to enlarge)

The complete slideshow can be seen here.

4 Comments:

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Arevanye said...

That fountain picture is stunning. Just lovely.

I'm so glad that you are having some restful time to yourself now that the kids are back in school. Goodness knows you've earned it this summer!

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Thanks! I've uploaded the other fountain shots to the slideshow, if you're interested.

It is nice to have some free time again. But suddenly, there's a list of home improvements for me to do! Idle hands...

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Cerys Clevercrow said...

What beautiful gardens! Although formal gardens are amazing, I prefer naturalistic gardens.

Great shots, as usual!

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Thanks! I've seen some amazing formal gardens before, and they are lovely. But this garden had so much unexpected beauty around every bend, it surpassed any I've seen yet. It was a good reminder that beauty exists in the smallest, most unexpected places.

 

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