Wednesday, June 17, 2015

On The Passing Of Christopher, the Lovely English Gardener Of DeGraw Street

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I am sorry to report sad news for all, who like me, have admired one of the most beautiful gardens in Cobble Hill for so many years.
This morning, I found the following email from reader Tim in my inbox:
"There’s a lovely common garden next to a small converted church on Degraw between Clinton and Tompkins that’s tended to by a sweet older gentleman who used to walk 2, (and recently just 1), small dogs. I noticed a few small bouquets fastened to the garden fence last night, with a few additional ones today, and fear the worst."

Sadly, the news of Chris
 passing has been confirmed. The flowers that have been attached to the entrance to his little paradise are not only a tribute to a beloved neighbor, but also for his wonderful garden, which he tended for many, many years.

"I know many people are saddened by the passing of this dear, sweet man, who created a magical oasis and shared so much beauty with the neighborhood," local resident Teri wrote to me. "My son and I would always pass Christopher's "Secret Garden" and sing 'The House at Pooh Corner' by Loggins and Messina. It really was a sweet spot of magic for all of us. I can't shake how sad I feel….."

Lela Nargi, a writer who lives in the neighborhood shared this lovely sentiment:
"Behind this fence and these flowers lies the garden of a gentleman. For the 9 years we've lived in this neighborhood, and for many more before that, Christopher tended this serene space—with sharp clippers for reigning in the hedges and never-quite-violent words for the squirrels that chewed up his lawn. We shared snippets of our life with Christopher through this fence on still Sunday mornings, and accepted ripe figs from his tree, and wondered to ourselves if we would ever be lucky enough to be invited into the inner sanctum, like no one else, ever, as far as we could tell. Now it is our abiding sadness to bid Christopher farewell. The grace and the poise and the beauty of the block go with him, try as we might to hold on to the vision of loveliness he created here."

Lela told me that Christopher was a "very proper Englishman", who was in his seventies and lived on Tompkins Place, around the corner from the garden.
"For the last 2 years, he had been waging a losing battle on the mildew that was infesting his hedge, and spent endless Sunday mornings clipping it back, hoping this would mitigate it," Lela writes. "The last time I saw him, he told me that a developer had been pressuring his landlord (always assumed he owned the brownstone on Tompkins, but apparently not) to sell the garden plot, and he was losing hope that he'd be held off much longer."

Christopher will be very much missed in the neighborhood. Wouldn't it be lovely for us to join together to purchase the garden and to open it to the community as a way of honoring his memory?
It is probably a fantasy, but yet...

Do you, dear readers, have memories of Christopher and his garden that you would like to share?

****UPDATE***
Just got and email from Rick Anderson informing us that there will be a memorial service for Christopher Adlington  on this Monday at 2:00 pm at St. Mary's Church at 145 W. 46th St in Manhattan.

(photo credit: Rob Cowan)



14 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should know better, this side of Degraw Street is in Cobble Hill and is part of the Cobble Hill historic district. there is nothing like this in Carroll Gardens

Katia said...

You are right, of course. DeGraw is the dividing line. Will amen the post tout-de suite!

Holley Atkinson said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. I walked by today too and saw the flowers and was afraid this was it :( I've been walking past and taking pictures of this garden for many, many years. I'll try to find the time (and a place) to post them for others' enjoyment. My deepest condolences to Chris's family and friends.

Keith Klein said...

We live directly next door. He taught me what crepe myrtle is. No idea he had fallen ill, being he appeared strong and healthy. God bless.

Becky said...

My heart aches to hear this. My husband and I have admired this garden for years and walked by it as often as possible. It always had the air of keeping its secrets to itself. I never knew or even saw Christopher, but imagined all kinds of interesting things about the person who must be tending it with such loving care. The prediction for the future of the garden in developers hands is pretty much the saddest thing I can think of. I am afraid we'll be adjusting our walks the other way now, I can't bear to think of it. I want to remember it always just like this!

Matteo said...

This 'borrowed garden', as the Japanese say, was the highlight of my trip up Degraw, and I would always cross the street specifically to be able to enjoy its peace and beauty.

Thank you Christopher, and Rest in Peace

Holly Messitt said...

Christopher was the kindest of neighbors, always a hello with a huge smile and a scratch on the head for the dog. His joy was infectious. I will miss seeing his loping, springing walk down the block. And I despair for his garden. It is one of the few magical places in the neighborhood.

Timothy Reed said...

Thank you for posting this. We'll miss him and his garden.

Anonymous said...

I always assumed this garden was owned by the lovely church that sits adjacent. What a travesty if this garden is plowed under and some horrid thing is built there. I never saw Christopher but now I add him to the list of people fading from this area.
Yes, it's Cobble Hill but still I walk here. It is my favorite part of the block. My roses were hacked down by my landlord. Often complimented as people walked by. Nothing is sacred. I hope Christopher's landlord or someone in his building will pass the torch and continue this lovely spot. Christopher. Rest In Peace. Does anyone know his last name?!

Anonymous said...

Grace and peace to Christopher.

And may his work be a reminder to all of us how the caring and thoughtful actions of one person, tending a small garden, can have such a positive influence on so many others in a community.

Anonymous said...

It is such a magical place. The fact that you have to look through a rusting chain link fence to see the precisely manicured garden made it all the more alluring. So sad to hear that the gardener passed.

Katia said...

Just received the following information from Rick Anderson:

His name was Christopher Adlington and there will be a memorial service for him on this Monday at 2:00 pm at St. Mary's Church at 145 W. 46th St in Manhattan.

Thanks, Rick.

Katia said...

Just received the following information from Rick Anderson:

His name was Christopher Adlington and there will be a memorial service for him on this Monday at 2:00 pm at St. Mary's Church at 145 W. 46th St in Manhattan.

Thanks, Rick.

Ena K. McPherson said...

Mr. Adlington has gone on, but the legacy he left behind will live on in the hearts and minds of the community so inspired by his Horticultural pursuits. RIP Fellow Gardener /Planter.
Ena K.
Bed-Stuy Gardener/ Planter