There is a lovely essay on Parks in the Guardian today. I say Parks rather than parks as the author takes a very strict line on what is or isn’t a Park, proposing five criteria that must e met in order to qualify (large trees, random planting, undulations, scale, and a gate or portal). William Boyd, the essay’s author, was one of eight writers commissioned by London’s Royal Parks to write a story set in a London Royal Park; one writer for each of the 8 parks.
In his Guardian piece Boyd ranges widely, discussing fiction set in parks, Orson Welles, plane tree, Rio de Janeiro, Queen Victoria, pyschogeography, cemeteries, zoos, Wittgenstein, and sex, though not all at once. Is what he says about plane trees correct? He says that the London plane tree is
a hybrid derived from the Platanus orientalis and the Platanus occidentalis. This hybrid sheds its bark, a fact that is believed to make it more resistant to the city’s polluting toxins,
A good friend of mine is a great lover of parks – a complete nut about parks in fact. He made me realise that I love them too – a walk (or run) in a beautiful oark can have a wonderfully calming effect. I also like the dissonance you find in city parks between the urban setting and the rural appearance. Walking through St James Park in London, Central Park in New York, or Lumpini Park in Bangkok you can see the city around you but it is not touching you.
If you love parks read Boyd’s essay. I think I may need to look the 8 stories too in due course.
Forgot to say. Boyd also discusses the distinction between town and country writers. This made me wonder if there is a similar split between toｗn and country scientists?
Is the science done at Colｄ Spring Harbor, Hinxton or Keyworth any different from that done in South Kensington, Toronto or Manchester?