Books to give Mom for Mother’s Day

This week in North Philly Notes, we suggest a handful of regional gift books mothers might appreciate receiving for Mother’s Day.

A Guide to the Great Gardens of the Philadelphia Region
text by Adam Levine, photographs by Rob Cardillo

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Finally, for every resident and visitor to the region, a comprehensive guide to the gardens of eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware. Magnificently illustrated with nearly 200 full color photographs, A Guide to the Great Gardens of the Philadelphia Region provides essential information on how to locate and enjoy the finest gardens the area has to offer. As the horticultural epicenter of the United States, Philadelphia and the surrounding towns, suburbs, and countryside are blessed with more public gardens in a concentrated area than almost any other region in the world. Stretching from Trenton, New Jersey through Philadelphia and down to Newark, Delaware, this area (often called the Delaware Valley) offers more horticultural riches than a visitor can possibly see even in a couple of weeks of hectic garden hopping.

Love: A Philadelphia Affair
Beth Kephart

2386_regPhiladelphia has been at the heart of many books by award-winning author Beth Kephart, but none more so than the affectionate collection Love. This volume of personal essays and photographs celebrates the intersection of memory and place. Kephart writes lovingly, reflectively about what Philadelphia means to her. She muses about meandering on SEPTA trains, spending hours among the armor in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and taking shelter at Independence Mall during a downpour. Kephart also extends her journeys to the suburbs—Glenside, Bryn Mawr, and Ardmore—and beyond, to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Stone Harbor, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware. What emerges is a valentine to the City of Brotherly Love and its environs. In Love, Philadelphia is “more than its icons, bigger than its tagline.”

Boathouse Row: Waves of Change in the Birthplace of American Rowing
Dotty Brown
The history of Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row is both wide and deep. Dotty Brown, an avid rower and former editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, immersed herself in boathouse archives to provide a comprehensive history of rowing in Philadelphia. She takes readers behiboathouse-row_smnd the scenes to recount the era when rowing was the spectator sport of its time-and the subject of Thomas Eakins’ early artwork-through the heyday of the famed Kelly dynasty, and the fight for women to get the right to row. (Yes, it really was a fight, and it took generations to win.) With more than 160 photographs, a third of them in full color, Boathouse Row chronicles the “waves of change” as various groups of different races, classes, and genders fought for access to water and the sport.

City in a Park: A History of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System
James McClelland and Lynn Miller

2348_regIn City in a Park, James McClelland and Lynn Miller provide an affectionate and comprehensive history of this 200-year-old network of parks. Originated in the nineteenth century as a civic effort to provide a clean water supply to Philadelphia, Fairmount Park also furnished public pleasure grounds for boat races and hiking, among other activities. Millions today travel to the city to view its eighteenth-century villas, attend boat races on the Schuylkill River, hike the Wissahickon Creek, visit the Philadelphia Zoo, hear concerts in summer, stroll the city’s historic squares and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and enjoy its enormous collection of public art. Green initiatives flower today; Philadelphia lives amidst its parks. Filled with nearly 150 gorgeous full-color photographs, City in a Park chronicles the continuing efforts to create a twenty-first century version of what founder William Penn desired: a “greene countrie town.”

Forklore: Recipes and Tales from an American Bistro
Ellen Yin

Co-founded in 1997 by Ellen Yin, Fork, a casual but sophisticated restaurant nestled in Old City, has become one of Philadelphia’s top dining establishments. The eclectic, but distinctly American style of cooking–influenced by many ethnicities–is, Yin describes, “New American bistro-style cuisine.”
1912_reg.gifForklore tells the tale of this extraordinary dining establishment, while dishing out some delectable recipes. Yin brings to her writing the same qualities of careful attention and lively enthusiasm that characterize her best dishes. With great gusto, she describes how she fell in love with food, how Fork was born, and how her chefs have helped to create its unique cuisine. And throughout her story she liberally sprinkles recipes-simple, delicious, and easy to cook at home-that represent the best of New American Bistro cooking. There are nearly 100 recipes in all and every one has a story, served up by Yin with relish and delight. For anyone who likes a juicy story, well seasoned with zesty anecdotes and mouthwatering recipes, Forklore is a treat.

Designing inspiring spaces for children

 This week in North Philly Notes, Lolly Tai, author of The Magic of Children’s Gardens, explains the purpose, beauty, and benefits of creating children’s outdoor environments in public gardens.

The focus of my research for the last two decades has been on designing outdoor environments for children. My deep interest was sparked by a schoolyard project that I assigned to my landscape architecture students almost twenty years ago when I was teaching at Clemson University. I learned for the first time in a very clear way that exposing children to nature and play are extremely important to children’s physical, mental and emotional health, and that today’s children no longer have ready access to natural environments, which are critical to their development. While I appreciate the need for outdoor space for children, to my dismay, I found very little information on the topic of designing for children at that time. That gave me the impetus to focus my research in this area. I learned a great deal about the design criteria for children. Scale, water, plants, wildlife, heights, retreat, enclosure, imagination, active play, and stimulation of the five senses are important considerations when designing for children. The culmination of my initial research resulted in a co-authored award winning book, Designing Outdoor Environments for Children, published by McGraw-Hill in 2006. The goal of the book was to encourage professionals and future generations to create more natural landscapes, creative outdoor play, and learning places for children.

My passion for exploring, learning, and writing about designing inspiring spaces for children continued to grow with each passing year. I recently expanded my research to include visiting children’s spaces in public gardens and interviewing garden administrators and designers. Each year, as an educator, I also provide my current Temple University landscape architecture students with the opportunity to experience a design project with special considerations for children. The Magic of Children’s Gardens is the culmination of my most recent research.

The Magic of Children's Gardens_smThe Magic of Children’s Gardens is the first book in the design profession that details nineteen outstanding case studies of children’s outdoor environments in public gardens. It presents inspiring design ideas for creating magical children’s spaces through examination of the gardens’ goals, concepts, design, and comprehensive collection of 700 images. The case studies are intended to serve as a broad platform to inspire the creation of more well-designed children’s outdoor spaces. The Magic of Children’s Gardens is intended to serve as a resource for design professionals, school administrators, botanical garden professionals, teachers, parents, students, and others who are planning to design and build children’s spaces.

Creating children’s outdoor environments is critical in today’s society as more and more children grow up in cities. According to the United Nations, just over half the world now lives in cities, and by 2050, over 70 percent of people will be urban dwellers. Children are spending less time outdoors. Sedentary lifestyles are contributing to obesity and other health problems, as well as a sense of disconnection from nature, for today’s urban children. That deleterious trend has to end and be turned around immediately. When nature no longer occurs naturally for children, it is imperative that we join our efforts to design spaces that benefit children’s health and well-being.

 

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