Monday, February 16, 2015

Morris Arboretum Fernery

The Morris Arboretum Fernery

The Fernery at Morris Arboretum

We have two pictures of the Fernery.  The first is a scale version on an outdoor railway at the Morris Arboretum.  The second is the actual fernery at the Morris Arboretum.  It is located in Philadelphia.  Stepping into the fernery, one sees the appeal of a year-round grotto garden.  This fernery seems to illustrate how much the Victorians loved gardens. It was the Victorians who started the advances in hybridization and gave us the garden as environment.

The Victorian metaphor of the landscape is a series of distinct outdoor rooms with the hardscaping forming the walls, floors and doorways.  The furniture is trees and shrubs, the carpets are lawns.  Victorian gardening books described the proper ways to 'ornament the lawn' with trees and shrubs.  Trees, shrubs and flowers weren't chosen to 'block a view' like we would do.  They were chosen as objects of art to be admired.  This was the time when advances in hybridization were large, and where expeditions brought exotic introductions to the landscape. Gardens soon were filled with as many exotic and novel specimens as possible.

When I visited Winterthur, the Dupont Museum of American Decorative Arts, I took a guided tour of the gardens on the bus.  The travel guide was tremendously knowledgeable, and she stopped in front of two huge cherry trees.  She said that they are the oldest Sargent Cherry trees in North America, brought back as whips by Charles Sargent from his expedition to China.  Like Morris, he was a great Victorian garden adventurer. 


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