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Perfect (Nearly) Hedge
Welcome to all of you who happen to be first time visitors to the Helen DeLonde Thoreaux Morgenthaler Memorial Garden of Architecturally Significant Sod, Sedums and Shrubbery! (And, welcome back once again to all of those familiar faces of our weekly horticulture lovers! Please note: any of the rest of you may join our regular patrons by signing up today for one of our attractive season-long subscription packages. We have various pricing options available for individuals, families, students and elders, and each comes with a complimentary gift of your choice of potted miniature cactus or succulent.)
As those of you with a Self-Guiding Tour Program and/or headset are already well aware, we are now standing before the Perfect (Nearly) Hedge, an icon of Modern Architecture, known to landscape architects, arborists, and plant-lovers the world over.
We are favored to gaze upon this greenery, for this is the sole element of urban landscape architectural design on the entire planet resulting from the collaboration of the four recognized titans of 20th Century design! I am speaking, of course, of none other than Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn.
First, note the hedge takes its predominant overall shape from the distinctive Prairie House motifs developed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1900s. These stylistic traits were later reduced and simplified in his Usonian Houses of the late 1930s and early 1940s. The long horizontal lines and exaggerated soaring pointed and angled ends shout of Wright at his most aspirational and inspirational!
There was much that Mies also found to love in that precise and pristine geometry! Being the strict Modernist and minimalist that he was, Mr. van der Rohe brought to the hedge a rigid and fine, regular branching structure throughout its interior. The branching veers and varies, yet never departs from an ordered, organic whole. As the German perfectionist would surely exclaim if he were here with us today, “God is in the leafing details!”
It was left to the flamboyant Swiss/French designer Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known to the world as Le Corbusier, to add selected, yet key, decorative flourishes to the hedge. These include such fillips as the Picasso-esque eye at left, and the angel-wing-like branching near the left-most trunk. (Even one of Le Corbusier’s famous antagonists, the artist Salvador Dali, had to admit that such touches ‘injected an otherwise mundane planting with a skosh of divinity’.)
The final collaborator on the Perfect (Nearly) Hedge was Louis Kahn, architect of the famed Salk Institute and the Bangladeshi National Assembly Building. With his usual flair with historic and monumental forms, Mr. Kahn imbued the hedge with the concentrically cupped branchlets at lower right, and the formal, fan-branched stems that articulate the far right terminus of the planting.
(The errant curlicue sprout that breaks the pristine trapezoidal form of the hedge is a late contribution by that renegade American architect, Charles Willard Moore, undertaken during one of his signature bouts of spontaneous and whimsical Post-Modern frenzy in the late 1970s.)
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