Friday, December 28, 2012

L.H. Bailey appears in, The Native Landscape Reader

    When it comes to school allegiances, the green colored gridiron may always cast The University of Michigan and Michigan State University as the eternal warring opposites. When it comes to the cultivated patch of green, acrimony is passe as witnessed in U of M's Robert E. Grese's inclusion of MSU alum, Liberty Hyde Bailey in his volume, The Native Landscape Reader (Critical Perspectives in the History of Environmental Design) .
     Robert E. Grese, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Michigan, describes Bailey as, "one of the seminal figures in American Horticulture, plant science, landscape gardening, and conservation in the twentieth century." This volume features selections from Bailey's, The Outlook to Nature along with Grese's trove of luminaries culled from his research including Frederick Law Olmsted, Jens Jensen, Andrew Jackson Downing, Horace William Shaler Cleveland, and O.C. Simonds.
    This gives us a good excuse to revisit a selection from Bailey's gem of a book. As Bailey explained, "The outlook  to nature is the outlook to optimism, for nature is our governing condition." Enjoy!_______________

The out-of-doors.
By nature, I mean the natural out-of-doors, — the snow and the rain, the sky, the plants, the animals, the garden and the orchard, the running brooks, and every landscape that is easy of access and undefiled.
     Every person desires these things in greater or lesser degree: this is indicated by the rapidly spreading suburban movement, by the vacationing in the country, and by the astonishing multiplication of books about nature. Yet there are comparatively very few persons who have any intimate contact with nature, or any concrete enjoyment from it, because they lack the information that enables them to understand the objects and phenomena.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Here is a little mediation from L.H. Bailey on the liberating aspects of winter from his collection of poetry, Wind and Weather:


Snow to my knees, shivering blasts
Piercing slivers of ice and sleet
Creaking trees all rigid and gaunt
Clouds that drive in the wind-wild vasts
Houses clean gone from field and street
Footways buried to stall and haunt,—

Ah winter, old winter, so braggartly hurled,
Unfrightened we stand on the top of your world,
Unprisoned and free as the birds that are whirled
When blizzards are loosed and the tempests are sent— .

Unhurried we wait till your furies are spent.

Wide is the world of the drifting snow
Wide over the waste the white rifts go
Travelling on with a ceaseless flow
Out to the voids we never shall know.

Frog insect and snake lie fast lie tight
Hidden and snug in pocketed deeps,
But we are alive come green come white
The year is ours while the 'neath-world sleeps,—
Ours with rabbit's track
and mouse's trail
With grasses frayed
and rough trees snow-limbed
Fence-drift's clean curl
and the seed-pod's sail
Stumps white-turbanned
and deep creeks ice-rimmed.

Crunch and crunch through the white snapping crust
With frigid bush and summer's dead stalk
Where earth lies deep and ice-piles are thrust,
The trackless ways are the ways we walk,—

Walk out and out with the swirling snow
On to the realms of bluster and blow
Where ghosts of the years of long ago
Shriek thro' the hills to caverns below.

Stript to the bone is the wind-worn year
Cover and mask and ornament gone—
Clear as days to the sight of the seer
We understand when the veil is withdrawn.

Come on, ye storms! Together we reach
Past and outpast the timid alarms—
This is our day; and over the breach
We go the way of the warmthless farms.