Monday, June 3, 2013

The Foodie Gals And Rosie Visit The Elizabethan Gardens.

When the Foodie Gals,
of Foodies Untie blogdom,
were here the other week,
I had to take them to the Elizabethan Gardens
on Roanoke Island.
If you're a gardener,
it's a must-see attraction.

The Elizabethan Gardens are located
next to the Lost Colony's Waterside Theater
on Roanoke Island.
The Elizabethan Gardens were created as a living memorial
to Sir Walter Raleigh's lost colonists
who lived in this very area over 400 years ago.

A brick walkway leads to the gatehouse
which was designed as a 16th century orangery,
with flagstone floor, hand-hewn beams,
and wide door with a cross design.
 The orangery originated in the Renaissance gardens
of Italy, where glass-making technology enabled
large expanses of glass to be produced.
It was similar to a greenhouse or conservatory
and originally was used to over-winter citrus trees.
The orangery was more than a greenhouse.
It was generally on the grounds of the more
fashionable residences from the 17th to 19th centuries
and was a symbol of wealth and prestige.

In 1949-50, a group of people (including influential philanthropists, noted historians, and authors) visited  Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and The Lost Colony drama on Roanoke Island and came up with the idea of asking The Garden Club of North Carolina to sponsor a two-acre garden for $10,000 on the 10-acre tract adjoining Fort Raleigh. The original, modest goal was to create the kind of garden a successful colonist might have built on Roanoke Island, had the colonization been successful.

In the meantime, the Garden Club learned of some very valuable statuary that was being dismantled from an estate in Georgia. Through intervention, the statuary, originally intended for the Metropolitan Museum, ended up at the historic site of the first English settlement in the New World. This "rich" find of an ancient Italian fountain and pool with balustrade, wellhead, sundial, bird baths, stone steps and benches, dating back to Pre-Elizabethan times came to Roanoke Island and The Garden Club of North Carolina, and thus completely altered the original concept of the garden.

Construction on the gardens began on June 2, 1953, the day Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. The New York landscape firm of Innocenti & Webel, internationally renowned landscape architects, was retained by the Garden Club to design the gardens, using the statuary as inspiration. The gardens formally opened August 18, 1960, on the 373rd anniversary of the birth of Virginia Dare, the first child born in America of English parentage.

The insignia above the entrance reads,
"Honi soit qui mal y pense,"
the motto of the Order of the Garter,
meaning, "Shame be to him who evil thinks."
The Order of the Garter was founded in 1348 by King Edward III
and is the highest order of chivalry in the United Kingdom.
The society, the pinnacle of the honor system 
in the United Kingdom, 
is limited in members to the Sovereign,
 the Prince of Wales, and no more than 24 other members. 
This is the royal coat of arms for the sovereign of England,
 who is always the head of the Order of the Garter.
Picture from Internet.

 For years, the gate house has been home
to this unusually unflattering portrait of Elizabeth I,
showing her aging and wrinkled.
Uncomplimentary depictions of the Queen
were not allowed during her lifetime,
not necessarily because of her vanity,
but because they depicted her as weak
and might undermine her power,
especially since she had no husband, no children
and no successor.

The portrait was purchased over fifty years ago
in New York city
by one of the founding members and benefactors
of the Elizabethan Gardens, Ruth Coltrane Cannon.
It is not known whether Cannon or the dealer
knew the origins of the painting.

For over fifty years,
this portrait of the old girl has
graced the Elizabethan Gardens Gatehouse,
greeting visitors.
Until now.

In 2010, a team from East Carolina University
arranged for a closer inspection of the portrait.
Careful analysis of the frame and portrait materials
(traces of iron and arsenic)
indicate that it dates to Elizabethan times.

The portrait has been attributed
to the school of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
(ca. 1561-1636).

Picture from Internet.

 There are several similarities between the
Elizabethan Garden  portrait
and one of Queen Elizabeth I by Gheerhaerts,
the Ditchley Portrait,
that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Both paintings feature the same necklace,
same crown, same position of the head,
and same jewelry.

The portrait has since been removed from EZ Gardens,
conserved, and relocated to a secure climate-controlled site.
It is now at the Folger Shakespeare Library's exhibition,
"Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland"
in Washington, D.C.

Candis Owens, marketing chair of the
Elizabethan Gardens Board of Governors,
summed it up best:
"And if some questions remain,
then a mystery it will be.
Here on Roanoke Island, 
the land where Sir Walter Raleigh's
famous lost colonists resided and disappeared,
we're used to mysteries."

June 7, 2013
Edited to add:
Congratulations to The Elizabethan Gardens on the news that their Elizabeth I portrait is worth a million dollars! Read the background on the story in the April CoastOBX, available on news stands.
In case you missed last night's CNBC #TreasureDetectives, they concluded that based on what they discovered about the paints used and the method of the artist that our Queen Elizabeth I portrait is authentically Elizabethan, was not painted for a royal sitting, escaped scrutiny of the time and survived to end up at The Elizabethan Gardens. They said it was worth a million USD. It is currently on display at The Folger Museum in DC. Lots to determine what to do when it returns this summer. Catch the episode again on a repeat- was awesome!!!

The beds are seasonally planted
and maintain an ever-changing palette
of year-round color.

Here's a map of the gardens.
And we're doing all the trails.

Variegated ajuga that I WANT.

Statue of Queen Elizabeth I.

This is a Carrera marble statue of Virginia Dare, the first child born in America of English colonists. It is the sculptor's idealized version of what Virginia Dare would have looked like had she grown to womanhood. Carved by American sculptor, Maria Louisa Lander in Rome in 1859, the statue suffered a rather hectic existence before making it to the Elizabethan Gardens. Virginia spent 2 years at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean due to a shipwreck off the Spanish coast, then she spent a rather controversial tenure in the State Hall of History in Raleigh, where she was deemed immodest what with all the portraits of North Carolina Governors gazing down at her nudity. She was then relegated to the basement. Next, Virginia was sent to stay with the Pulitzer playwright, Paul Green, who wrote "The Lost Colony," the longest running outdoor drama in American history.

Paul Green finally decided to donate the statue of Virginia Dare to the Gardens. So, almost 100 years after her creation, Virginia Dare came to rest at the place of her birth in her own little niche at the base of an ancient live oak tree, where she remains today.

Virginia holds a fishnet draped about her waist. On her neck and arms, she wears the Indian laces of an Indian princess. She is accompanied by a royal heron.

Looking out to the Roanoke Sound.

A front is moving in.

In 1981, this authentic 16th century gazebo with thatched roof, was constructed using period tools and techniques.

The octagonal structure overlooks the Currituck and Roanoke Sounds, and might possibly be situated on the very site where Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Walter Raleigh's cousin, first set foot on Roanoke Island in 1585 with his fleet of seven ships and 108 men.

The whimisical Woodland and Wildlife garden.
Five gnomes are hidden throughout.

Welcome to the sunken gardens.

This ancient fountain and pool with balustrade is the centerpiece of the Elizabethan Gardens and the inspiration to landscape architects Innocenti and Webel.

This statuary came from the Whitney estate in Thomasville, Georgia. John Hay Whitney was the Ambassador to the Court of St. James in London. His mother had purchased the statuary for their shooting plantation, Greenwood, in Georgia. It was collected by Stanford White before World War I and was shipped to Georgia from Italy. Originally, Ambassador Whitney had intended to give the statuary to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, but was persuaded by Innocenti and Webel to donate the collection to the Elizabethan Gardens.

The centerpiece of the Sunken Garden is Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
Sculpted of Carrera marble, she holds a fish in her hands, a former source of a waterfall.

At Aphrodite's side is a dolphin, recalling her birth from the sea.

Finally, we have Venus, Goddess of Spring and Bloom, Love and Fertility.

This is Diana, Goddess of the Hunt. She is shown here carrying a quiver of arrows in her left hand and is accompanied by a hunting dog. Diana also came to be identified with the moon goddess and the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I was compared to Diana because Diana was chaste. Portraits of Elizabeth sometimes have a moon in them to symbolize this connection.

This is Apollo, God of Music and Poetry, and Diana's twin. Apollo is also identified as the sun god. He carries a lyre, symbol of his dominion in music and poetry, two areas very important to the Elizabethans.
Next, we have Jupiter, king of the gods and heaven and father of Apollo and Diana. He holds a thunderbolt, signifying his reign as god of the sky, lightning, thunder, and weather. At his feet is the eagle, a symbol of power.

The rose garden honors Queen Elizabeth II.
There's a rose in here sent by the Queen
from the Royal Rose Garden at Windsor Castle.

The orangerie.

The Elizabethan Gardens have become one of the most beautiful and unique gardens in America. Here, the initial attempt by England under Queen Elizabeth was made to colonize America on Roanoke Island by Sir Walter Raleigh twenty years before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. Although the Roanoke Island colony was not permanent, their work was, for the interest created by the "Men of Roanoke" did not disappear, but led to the making of the permanent English settlements in America.

Inscription on the plaque at the entrance gate:

Down the centuries, English women have built gardens,
 to the glory of God, the beauty of the countryside
 and the comfort of their souls.
The women of the Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. 
have planted this garden in memory of the valiant men and women
 who founded the first English colony in America.
 From this hallowed ground on Roanoke Island, 
 they walked away through the dark forest, and into history.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.

If you'd like to see the gardens in February,
check out my post from February 2008
and this post from February 2008.


Marilyn said...

Love your photographs. Even though we took the same tour, you captured different aspects of it with your camera than I did with mine.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thank you. And I noticed that too.