February 9, 2010

Amherst Club Luncheon Notes for Tuesday, February 9th, 2010


Larry opened the meeting with a very amusing poem for Valentine’s Day by Ogden Nash.

Phyllis, with the help of Tina and Jacquie, wowed the assembled throng with her song about Love Notes.



Ellen Kosmer brought Enid Gorman, a friend and current president of the Thursday Club.



Jean Miller asked members to give very specific descriptions of their contributions of food and beverages for the Reception. Also to consider making an extra cash donation for Tina to spend on supplies, thus releasing into the Love Notes account as much as possible of the $400 currently set aside for these supplies.

Tina needs a final list of the donations by members and businesses by the end of today, Tuesday 9th. Also, we need fancy soft drinks, like Trader Joe’s Italian sparkling waters, for instance. Also, help is need from 12 till 2.00 in the kitchen putting food out on plates – PLEASE.

Jacquie reminded us that Jim Scott needs the final list of Cupids today so that they can be included in the insert. She urged us all to come and enjoy the show.

Surinder sought confirmation that 100% of the Love Notes ticket money goes to charity. It does.

Vivienne reminded members to drop off food and drink at her house before 11.45am on Sunday, 14th. She asked for a volunteer to help drive these to Valentine Hall. Flo Stern will do it.

Therese added the information that she will be supervising the rehearsing of the performers from 9.00 until the show starts at 3.00, and mentioned other members who are equally involved. This really is a team effort.

Ruth reminded us that the Gypsy Wranglers will be playing at the reception.

Kathleen is looking for a suitable tenant to rent her home between June and October.



Honoré David introduced the speaker, club member Ellen Kosmer, whose credentials began at the Mass. College of Arts and led all the way to Yale, where she taught Art History, having specialized in 13th century Parisian manuscript illumination. She is currently researching Sacri Monte in northern Italy.


The talk was entitled Art in the Garden and we were treated to a slide show, wittily narrated by Ellen showing the good, the bad and the ugly of garden design.

We began with the premise that gardens should express the personality or whim of their designers. Vita Sackville-West said:

“Every garden-maker should be an artist along his own lines. That is the only possible way to create a garden, irrespective of size or wealth.”

Thus, we saw illustrations of modern gardens demonstrating their owners’ love of gnomes, pink flamingoes, statuettes, outsized coffee cups and even ladies’ bloomers, brightly colored.

Taking a historical viewpoint, she noted that most early gardens were very formal, with strictly arranged and clipped greenery. This has carried into modern times with, for example, topiary, where plants become the raw material for creating sculpture.

By the eighteenth century garden taste leant toward the more informal or picturesque, letting nature take its course, but within certain guidelines. For instance ‘ruins’ were built, deliberately evoking remains of old. This was especially common in English gardens of the mid-eighteenth century. The aim was to elevate one’s sensibility and stimulate imagination and meditation.

Many of these English gardens extended over large acreage and thus became the landscape itself, rather than an enclosed space within the larger world of nature.

A further element found in many gardens is some sort of water feature, which can be a representation of nature, or unabashedly artificial.

Ellen recommends that a garden have some sense of the unexpected and showed examples of modern ideas by Anita Roddick of West Sussex (especially her water features) and Andy Goldsworthy.

She ended with a quote by Robert Frost:

“Nature does not complete things. She is chaotic. Man must finish, and he does do by making a garden and building a wall.”


Larry pointed out that the word ‘paradise’ comes from the Persian word meaning ‘walled garden.’


Your scribe, Vivienne Carey, ends with a ditty from Ogden Nash;:


My garden will never make me famous,

 I’m a horticultural ignoramus.