I have waited too long to visit Monet’s Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Yesterday, even though the weather was infernally hot and sticky and thunderstorms were in the forecast, my friend Nancy and I left New Jersey for a rendezvous with the most famous of the Impressionist painters.
The work, the spirit and the colors of Claude Monet pop up under glass in the Haupt Conservatory, outdoors in the Irwin Perennial Garden (among other spots) and on the walls of the Rondina/LoFaro and Ross galleries in the Garden’s administration building. To evoke the mood of Monet’s era, large signs bearing bits of dream-laden poetry by Symbolist writers including Rimbaud, Mallarme and Verlaine, are scattered through the display areas. The gift shop, of course, has a full range of Monet-themed items.
I think that if you could manage to inhale the fragrance of the roses and lilies in the Conservatory while simultaneously repeating lines of Verlaine’s poetry, you could transport yourself directly from the Bronx to Monet’s home at Giverney or at least to late nineteenth century France.
The juxtapositions of colors in the conservatory display were inspiring–vibrant reds next to oranges and pinks, all contrasting with the strong bluish-greens of the arches and bridge. Color surged around us as we took in the display.
No Monet experience is complete without waterlilies and lotus, which bloom profusely in the outdoor pool adjacent to the Haupt Conservatory. Lotus have always seemed a little like orchids to me–so perfect that they appear almost artificial. However, after seeing them at the NYBG, I may get a plastic-lined half whiskey barrel next year and try to grow a lotus in my garden.
My only criticism–and it is small–is that I would have liked even more Monet-inspired plantings in the Conservatory. However, funding is finite, even with corporate sponsors, and maybe it is better to have your senses whetted instead of sated. I came back to real life, New Jersey and thunderstorms inspired.