The Glass House Blog

Message from the Director – June 2011

Lincoln Kirstein Tower
Lincoln Kirstein Tower. Photo: Carol Highsmith.

If I had awakened this morning about 6:30 in the Glass House (which I did not), and sat up on the right side of the bed, I’d have been able to watch two male turkeys squaring off in a display of their impressive brown tail feathers, fanning and folding as they stared at each other.  They stood, one on the mowed square of lawn by the pool and a stone wall, the other on a rise beyond another stone wall perpendicular to the first on a separate mowed patch (there is an un-mowed field between these walls).  It was a silent contest and just possibly could have been watched continuously after a shower and, from the far side of the house, during breakfast.

If I lived there.

In the evenings I’m sure I’d stare out to the west (the left side of the bed), though only a single chair at the table is actually oriented that way.  West is where the promontory drops and as the sun turns the sky golden or orange or pink one can watch deer or turkeys grazing below, and raptors soaring among the tree-tops, which is to say, at eye level.  Sometimes one spots a raptor snacking at the very top of the Lincoln Kirstein Tower. Easy for the bird, not having to climb those harrowing steps.  (We won’t let you try that either, so please don’t ask.)

On another part of the property, the peony and iris garden is in its third delirious week, with lily shoots just beginning to show.  Why everyone doesn’t sign up for our landscape tour is beyond me.  There is still time this year but at least put these weeks down for next year’s reservations because David Whitney was serious about this garden.   Today I swooned for a deep purple iris called “Moon River” and a very loud peony called “Hit Parade.” And those were just my first loves of the morning.

Okay, I work here, so I opted to sniff each cultivar even though it meant breathing badly for the rest of today.  Both flowers have such mild fragrances, one must lean in to catch a hint.   The colors are so marvelously varied in this garden, and the staggered dates and durations of the blooms are so impressive that I resolve to start again at my own home.   But it is still before 7 this morning, and it will be another long day, so we’ll see what I recall when actually facing my own garden.

Rena Zurofsky

Interim Director, Philip Johnson Glass House

Message from the Director, originally published at

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