Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Smith College Botanical Gardens:: Northampton, MA

While I was at photography school, one of my instructors always used to tell us about the botanical gardens at Smith College. And each time she told us, it fell on (my) deaf ears. I kept thinking, Eh, I'm not interested.

But as Rikki and I were driving back from visiting our school, we stopped on the way and happened upon the exact gardens we heard so much about. The door was open, and we cautiously stepped inside with our own personal invitation. What we saw stunned us -- how had we not ever gone??

I'll let the pictures tell (some) of the story.

(above) My gorgeous friend Rikki, who is a phenomonal food/still life photographer and a dear friend - went with me on our long-weekend visit to our school. We had a great time seeing each other and while we were in MA, she took pictures of two home interiors. Head here to see one of them. My post/pics to come soon....
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vanderbilt Mansion:: Hyde Park, NY

A few weeks ago, a dear friend and I visited Hallmark - the photography school we attended. I met Rikki at her home near Poughkeepsie, NY, and she mentioned the Vanderbilt Mansion. Before I left town, we headed to the mansion, sometimes known as Hyde Park Mansion. It's near the estate of FDR.

When we pulled in, I immediately thought of how much it reminded me of a new favorite show - Downton Abbey. I was fascinated by the grandeur of the home, and imagined the galas thrown, the fancy cars, the butlers that roamed around the interior, and the conversations that were held within the walls of this beautiful mansion. In 1940, FDR signed legislation to allow the Vanderbilt Mansion to be part of the National Park Service ("Did You Know" fact from the mansion's homepage)

We didn't get to go inside, but the grounds were grand. The back of the house overlooks the Hudson, and to the one side of the house are these fabulous gardens. Wikipedia says this of the gardens:

"Frederick's interest and love of horticulture caused him to develop several large gardens on the Vanderbilt estate. These lavish gardens incorporated the formal “Italian” style. This meant that the beds were arranged in such a way that if you drew a line across the middle, either horizontally or vertically, one side of the line would mirror the other side. These formal gardens also consisted of multiple tiers, which depended on the type of plants. Each level was different. Frederick himself added the rose garden which contained almost 2000 “vintage” rose bushes along with other kinds of roses. The Vanderbilt gardens were grand and exquisite."

I'm so glad we visited this historic estate. There are times when I wonder what it'd be like to live in a place like that.

And while we were there, we went inside the gift shop. It was full of gift books, how-to's and lots of random gifts - from soaps to teacups and collectibles of all kinds. One of the books I picked up was The Art of the Handwritten Note.  I love sending people notes, and it was a must-read. I now have a copy of the book and am so enthralled with reading about the history of writing notes and the etiquette of doing so. It makes me wish I knew how to do calligraphy or that I had a quill pen that I could dip into an inkwell. Maybe one day!
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