Next Discovery

By: D Steckler

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    A Timely Discovery

    By DAS99
    Mar 7, '12 11:53 AM EST

    One benefit of living where the seasons change is the anticipation for renewal that each seasonal change brings. We might take this as a signal  to venture out and escape, if even for a moment, from the artificial environments we work in. 

    Recently, through a number of unrelated events, I found a wonderful place to escape. I found more than I expected.

    One of the recent events leading me to this place is my 'discovery' of the book "The Spirit of the Garden" by Landscape Architect Martha Brookes Hutcheson, originally published in 1923, reprinted in 2001 by the University of Massachusetts press.  She was an advocate for "growing local" and using native plants long before the current trend to do so. 

    That discovery lead to the discovery of a surviving piece of her work here in New Jersey. Hidden among the slopes of Morris County, NJ, is Bamboo Brook Park, formerly called the Merchiston Farm, her  former residence. The Morris County Parks commission has been working to restore the garden originally designed by Martha Brookes Hutcheson, a pioneer for women in Landscape Architecture. 

    The restoration began in 2000 with the water features  near the house. (Heritage Landscapes LLC). There is much to enjoy here. Even in the last phase of winter the colors and textures keep the eye occupied.  A series of strong axial lines meet with meandering water features creating a pleasant escape to explore.

    The inviting paths, bridges and water features draw you to experience each new space  and then lead you back to find a new facet you hadn’t noticed before. The paths and outdoor features accentuate the house that would otherwise be unremarkable. The partnership between house and garden is a relationship where each enhances the other.   

    Bamboo Brook Park is part of New Jersey’s Women’s Heritage trail, a timely discovery for Women’s History Month. The park is open to the public.


    D. Steckler March 7, 2012


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A blog about the many discoveries in life related to architecture.

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  • DAS99

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