Let's talk about Philbrook Art Museum and Gardens. The best way to talk about a big garden like this is with a map. I am sort of a visual learner and like photos and maps to allow me to "see" something. So thanks to our friend Professor Google I have a nice map of Philbrook. You might want to look at the photos I posted yesterday as they are part of this discussion. I know, I have the cart before the horse but bear with me.
The mansion faces west and most of the gardens are behind the house to the east. The aerial view gives you a good idea of the original mansion and the newer additions on the north end. The gardens are built down a fairly steep grade. Immediately behind the house are formal geometric diamonds of neatly trimmed hedge and lawn. They terminate halfway down the hillside at a stone wall with a large fountain at the center. From there down to the reflecting pond is a naturalized waterfall splashing down to the pond.
The area around the pond is a wonder of flowers and decorative grasses. The pond is home to a school of Koi and some beautiful waterlilies. If you look at the map you can see the white Tempietto peeking out of a group of trees just east of the pond. A Tempietto is the tall domed rotunda which reflects so beautifully. The long hillside from the mansion on the west and the tempietto on the east is a masterpiece of landscaping.
On a line with the formal garden, the reflecting pond, and the tempietto is a footbridge that crosses Crow Creek. X marks the spot on the map. As we can see from our map, Crow Creek runs down the eastern side of the property and flows out on the south side. In a number of places along Crow Creek the banks have been reinforced with stone or riprap. As it passes through the grounds of Philbrook it is walled with cut stone and surrounded by manicured lawns.
The grounds outside the perimeter of the pond but west of the creek are no less carefully planned and kept as the more formal arrangements between the mansion and the tempietto. These areas are bordered by graciously curving walks which contain surprises in the form of whimsical statuary, and unexpected art objects. The visitor is invited to relax and stroll at a leisurely pace, pausing to rest or chat with a friend.
The area outside the creek is kept neat but left to assume a more casual area inhabited by a variety of birds, squirrels, butterflies, even a duck or two. Do you see him? I even hear that the grounds are patrolled and guarded by a pair of fearless cats.
I have to admit that the Philbook gardens are my favorite things in Tulsa. I can wander here for hours, taking photographs, reading, and just looking at the beauty of this place. No one bothers me other than to smile and nod if our paths cross. Every time I come here I look at the beautiful gardens and am overcome by an urge to go home and plant the beautiful flowers that we see at Brookside. Almost overcome, but soon put to rest as I observe the small army of grounds keepers and volunteers who keep this place so beautifully manicured. More later.
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