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Garden of Urban Delights

Pop-up gardens are greening up cities around the world

Most city parks are the product of years of urban planning and the result of determined citizens conquering mountains of red tape. And, while New York will likely never have a rival to Central Park, it and other densely populated urban centers are unearthing more attainable solutions to their residents’ yearnings for more green space in the form of pop-up parks.

Park Here: Despite the fact that its surface is grass and not sand, Sheep Meadow is the favorite sunbathing spot for exhibitionist New Yorkers during the summer. Come winter, tanning methods can be replaced, but when it comes to a place to lounge amid nature, options are scarce, unless one counts being shoved against strangers in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden as relaxation. Enter Park Here, a 4,500-square-foot public indoor park that’s coming to Nolita’s Openhouse Gallery. According to Time Out NY, the downtown event space-turned-potential SAD cure will be filled with trees and benches for the first few weeks of January. There won’t be carts hawking dirty water dogs, but who cares when sustenance will be provided by Hester Street Fair’s food vendors?

Ma Bulle, Ma Plante & Moi: Already a pioneer in metropolitan botany, having transformed the Champs-Elysees into a farm that would make Alice Waters proud, the City of Lights’ latest green effort appeared as if it descended from outer space. Actually a product of the Dutch Flower Council and not Mars, Ma Bulle, Ma Plante & Moi (“My Bubble, My Plant and Me”) was a set of garden domes that were scattered throughout the city last month. Each of the bubbles, designed by landscape artist Amaury Gallon, was filled with a themed selection of plants, ranging from “jungle” to “psychedelique.” The pop-up greenhouses were just spacious enough for two visitors at a time, offering a rare intimate experience in the bustling city. If those walls could talk…

Invasion Verde: The home of El Parque del Amor, a cliff-top park overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Lima, Peru is world-renowned for its many romantic knolls. Last month, a series of pop-up patches of grass reinvented the previously barren streets of the inner city with a similar sense of enchantment. Part of Gran Semana de Lima (“Lima’s Great Week”), an arts and culture takeover of the city’s public spaces, the Invasion Verde installation was an architectural garden planted along the Pasaje Encarnacion in Lima’s historic center. In addition to clusters of recycled tire chairs filled with flowers and grass that formed DIY café seating, natural grass-covered undulating mounds served as nature’s nap pods upon which passersby could laze in the middle of the street.

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The Cassandra Report Summer 2010
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