Sneak Peek inside HGTV Urban Oasis 2011 by Mary
Urbs in Horto--City in a garden. Garden in the city. There's a difference, of course, but in weather like this, who cares? Anything green and shady is good. Not, of course, that every oasis needs to be a literal garden. Or that it needs to be outdoors at all, for that matter. In fact, HGTV is just about to unveil a 1000-SF condominuim on the 35th Floor of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, as part of their "Urban Oasis" series, which is apparently aimed at people who like Nature in small doses and who prefer to live in the heart of a vibrant city---even in a hot city--to living on, say, a beautiful but isolated (read: boring) beach, or in some beautiful but underpopulated mountains, or in an area that, twenty minutes ago, was still farmland, with all the social & cultural advantages thereof.
Don't get me wrong. I grew up in small towns and I enjoyed finding baskets of luscious, still-warm-from-the-sun garden-grown tomatoes sitting on my front porch as much as anybody--Mrs johnson, my next door neighbor was a sweetheart--but I'll still happily trade all that for being able to attend a CSO concert less than an hour after I leave work. Besides, those ginormous tomatoes usually went bad before I could eat them all, anyway. Too ripe. And don't get me started on the zucchini. They started out as single specimens but quickly grew in size and number, and finally, I ended up taking them to work with me and tossing them into the dumpster out back so that Mrs. Johnson wouldn't find them in my trash, and I'm sure she used to check. Like I said, she was a nice lady and all, and her tomatoes really were good--the ones I got around to eating--but I refused to feel guilty over tossing extra zucchini. These days, I'm a city guy, so I don't have to deal with zucchini anymore.
|Zucchini Photo from Chiot's Run|
Anyway, one day back in March, who should drop into our store but Vern Yip, who explained that he was looking for accessories for this season's "Urban Oasis" project in Chicago. Very cool! Except that those of you who know me also know that I don't have a TV, so when Vern first walked in the door, I had absolutely no idea who he was. I 'm probably the last person around who's never once seen HGTV. Fortunately, Vern introduced himself and I recognized his name--in the same way that I recognize, say, Paul Konerko's name, although I don't know what he looks like, either--so I played along and didn't (I hope) look like a complete mope in front of Vern, or, at least, if I did, he was nice enough to pretend he didn't notice. Thank you, Vern.
So he looked over the whole store and picked out several good-looking items for the show. He chose a set of black-shaded brass wall sconces in the form of three-foot-long animal horns, and he took a handsome pair of carved oak figures that, a hundred years ago, must have been part of an Elizabethan Revival bookcase in a grand English library, which carvings--full disclosure here--would have been at my place by now if Vern hadn't bought them. Memo to Self: you snooze, you lose. But Vern also chose this little accent piece, which subtly suggests a garden theme, even if said garden happens to be indoors and thirty-five floors up in the air: our Olmsted Faux-Bois Concrete Planter, done in the informal, rustic style that was common in urban parks at the turn of the last century, and named, naturally, after the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
Probably the greatest surviving assemblage of rustic-style pieces in this country--benches, bridges, shelters, you name it--is in New York's Central Park, which Sara Cedar Miller, the Park's Historian and the author of Central Park, an American Masterpiece--another book
|Bridge No 32 by Jim in Times Square at Flickr.com|
|our Vaux Faux Bois Concrete Console|
Meanwhile, I'll be watching to see what Vern does down at Trump Tower. Or, at least, I'll be doing that once I figure out which of my friends will let me come over just to watch a decorating show. As for everybody else? Check you local time and listings.