Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fredrick Olmsted Parks Photos

We are very fortunate in Rochester, NY to have 3 Fredrick Olmsted parks. For those not familiar with Olmsted, he is considered to be the "father of the landscape architecture profession." Rochester is one of only 4 cities that have park system, including Highland Park, Genesee Valley Park, and Seneca Park. Here's what Rochester's Landmark Society has to say about Olmstea's design:
Highland Park, October 2010
Olmsted's three major parks in Rochester each represented different landscape styles. Highland Park was created on land donated to the city by horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry; in recognition of their gift, the design called for an arboretum of various plants and shrubs that would preserve the dazzling views from the top of the hill. Genesee Valley Park, designed in Olmsted's classic pastoral style, features gently rolling terrain along the river south of downtown. Seneca Park, meanwhile, is an excellent example of Olmsted's picturesque style, with rugged terrain meant to inspire wonder and awe. 
Highland Park, October 2010
When Olmsted suggested setting aside the land for Highland, Genesee Valley and Seneca Parks, some people thought it unnecessary to set aside so much land so far from the center of the city, in relatively undeveloped areas where open land was plentiful. As Olmsted expected, the parks were not on the fringes for very long, as the city quickly grew to surround them. Today, Rochester's three large Olmsted parks provide tranquility and beauty right in the city, while smaller parks and parkways are focal points of their neighborhoods.
One of the reasons that I love Olmsted (besides the obvious reason that his parks are so darn beautiful!) is that he worked from a set of principles. These principles can be adopted to MY garden, too. Here's how Mt. Holyoke describes Olmsted's design principles:

Genesee Valley Park, October 2010

Scenery: Designs of “passages of scenery” with a liberal use of plantings even in the smallest spaces and in areas with the most active use.  
Suitability: Creation of designs that are in keeping with the natural scenery and topography of the location with a respect for and full utilization of the “genius of the place.” 
Sanitation: Creation of designs to promote both physical and mental health of users with provisions for adequate drainage and similar engineering considerations. 
Subordination: Subordination of all details and features (both of natural and artificial materials) to the overall design and the effect intended for it to achieve. 
Separation: Separation of areas done in different styles so that “incongruous mixture of styles” will not dilute the intended effect of each; separation of ways in order to insure safety of use and reduce distractions for those using the space; separation of uses that conflict with another. 
Spaciousness: Creation of designs that make the area seem larger than it is using bays and headlands of plantings forming indefinite boundaries.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Concord and Pleasant Hill Veggie Markets

Mango Salsa, anyone?
Artichokes? Or works of art? You be the judge!
I think these are palms.
Big Fat Asparagus!
While I was in Concord visiting my father and his wife, Joyce, Joyce took me around to see some absolutely beautiful vegetable markets, both owned by the same family. One was located in Concord, and the other was in a nearby town in Pleasant Hill. These markets specialize in having the freshest local produce available. They seemed to culture agnostic, meaning that it didn't matter what your last name is, you'll find something special from your cuisine to cook tonight. The biggest problem I had was in narrowing down my menu, because I wanted to take home some of everything! I saw at least 6 different types of eggplants, including those darling little round ones they use in Thai stir fries. At the Concord market, we saw fresh tamarind. I've never seen that sold that way -- it isn't something that our wonderful grocery store chain, Wegmans, ever carries. We saw Japanese yams -- smaller than the sweet potatoes we have, and pale orange, like true yams.

We ended up with peas, a butter head lettuce, beets. I made Chicken Dijon, mashed potatoes, butter head lettuce with fresh baked beets, and buttered peas. It was a wonderful dinner. I'm already dreaming about what I'll cook when I go back in November!