The New Direction in Gardens: Up

This week’s grab-bag of Boston’s green internet effluvia includes one small garden and one very large park. One runs up and down, the other one is just up–very, very far up. You thought that Boston’s restaurant rooftop gardens were exciting? People are paying $20 to get into this one! That is, after they pay for the ticket to Singapore.

But first, the small garden. Citysprouts, one of my favorite organizations ever, helps kids in Cambridge public schools learn to grow plants and cook food–and Citysprout’s volunteers are always on the lookout for new ways to grow more stuff in urban school yards. The biggest challenge Citysprouts faces right now is how to grow food at the new garden at the Cambridgeport school, which has only a few small sunny spots on school grounds. Last week, Boston landscaping firm Cityscapes lent Citysprouts the answer: a vertical garden! Cityscapes provided gorgeous seven-foot green wall loaded with lettuce, chard, cabbages, rosemary, hot peppers, and other beautiful, edible things.

The green wall was on display at the Citysprouts annual celebration at the Tobin School, and has returned to Cityscapes. However, the Cambridgeport School garden committee is trying to raise money to install a permanent green wall on their shady site. If they get the funding for that project, the Cambridgeport School may create the first schoolyard green wall in the Boston area. Donate now to get that wall up next spring.

In Somerville, less than a mile away from the Cambridgeport School, Moshe Safdie’s architecture firm designs gigantic mixed-use developments with parks in odd places.  Safdie first became famous for Habitat 67 in Montreal, a residential development of modular concrete block-apartments–each with its own garden. That said, the dull patina of Habitat 67’s aging concrete appeals to rather dour temperaments. In 2008, Leonard Cohen, famous Canadian composer of depressing songs, made a video of eggheads (of a sort) being miserable in Habitat 67.

In the past 43 years, Safdie has come to embrace other materials. His Marina Bay Sands resort , which opened last summer in Singapore, is very shiny, and it isn’t made of blocks! Instead, it has three tall towers covered with glass, and a hat. Or perhaps it’s a skateboard; it’s hard to tell from the pictures.

According to this article, the reason that these buildings sport curious headgear is that Safdie forgot to include a park in this integrated $6.2-billion project, so he just plunked it on top of the skyscrapers. I’m not sure what it says about Safdie that he only remembered to put in a park after designing three towers with a 2,560-room hotel, a casino, a convention center, museum, theatres and shops. But the park does exist, it’s as long as the Eiffel tower is tall, it sits on a nifty cantilever, and you can go look at it for a mere $20 (Singapore dollars). You can’t walk into most of it if you’re not a hotel guest, but you can watch other richer people enjoying the infinity pool.

Safdie hasn’t built any projects in the Boston area since 2002, according to his project list, but he did have an intriguing suggestion for the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway: flood it!  Put the whole darn thing under water and canoe in the summer, skate in the winter!  It isn’t the most impractical thing that’s been suggested for the Greenway–and it might have been less expensive than the current approach as well.

  2 Replies to “The New Direction in Gardens: Up”

  1. October 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I to think there is a lot of mis-information on the internet relating to gardening. I think the best advice is taken from an experienced gardner and your own experimentation.

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