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Garden History & Design

Committee Members


Christina Henderson, Barbara Stowe

Suky Braken

Jennifer Desimone

Alex Faust

Caroline Hayes

Jessica Koehler

Erin Sanchez

Judy Savary

The English Landscape Garden Movement 1750-1900

October 27, 2020

GH&D Workshop 2020.png

Garden designer, historian and member of SBGC, Peter Ham talks about the English landscape garden movement from 1750 to 1900.  His presentation explores the three major garden design movements of the era: the Picturesque, the Italianate and the Victorian.  These three movements saw a reaction away from the landscape style of Capability Brown and others towards a 'wild' natural state, the onset of planted flowering gardens as spaces for pleasure and the subsequent introduction of influences from Europe and Empire; these overseas influences included planting styles, garden architecture and follies.  

This is the second of Peter's talks on English garden history.  Many of you will remember his presentation to us on 'Politics in the Garden' covering the 17th and early 18th century. This new talk bridges the period from the landscape garden movement to the influences of William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll which are the topic of Peter's third talk in a series of four on English garden history.  

A recording can be seen here on the Club Video Library.

On the question about books and background/research material, Peter suggest these as a useful starting point. 


Arcadian Friends - Richardson

The Genius of the Place - Hunt & Willis

Gardens Through Time - Owen & Gavin  (BBC companion book to the 7 part series)

How to Read an English Garden - Eburne & Taylor

The Victorian Garden - Ikin

Regency Design - Morley

An English Arcadia 1600-1990 - Jackson-Stops

Picturesque Gardens of Europe - Hunt

Garden History & Design Spring 2020 Workshop

January 22, 2020

Sculpture in the Garden  


At this workshop we joined our member and sculptor Mira DeMartino in exploring how we can use sculpture to enhance our garden and affect our emotional response to outdoor spaces. This was a wonderful opportunity to get the artist’s perspective on how to incorporate sculpture to change the mood in a garden. How we can, for example, create surprise, humor, elegance or the wow factor. Mira also discussed practical issues for your sculpture such as materials, size, positioning, light and shade, and how they can affect the impact and experience in your garden. 

Click here for pictures of the morning and here to see Mira's presentation.

Garden History & Design Spring 2019 Workshop

May 22, 2019

Why in my neighbor’s garden are the flowers sweeter than mine?  Dora Sigerson Shorter


Everyone's garden is beautiful and interesting. Join us as we pay short visits to members' gardens and hear about how they developed and implemented their unique designs. Before each visit there will be a little information on the history of this particular style of garden and some information on where you can see public gardens with some of these same features.

The Garden History & Design Committees of the GCA, in partnership with the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens is engaged in a process to document the gardens of America. Not only will this workshop be interesting and informative, but who knows, since we will be learning the answers to some of the questions that form part of an AAG submission, it could even be the first step towards documenting the gardens.    

Garden History & Design Fall 2018 Workshop

October 24, 2018

Layering Gardens - Designing a ‘Year Round' Garden

The Layered Garden is an approach to designing your garden for extra interest and beauty throughout the seasons. 

Jane Henderson's beautiful and inspiring presentation demonstrates how it is possible to plant for beautiful blooms from Spring through to Fall, how to add texture, and use color and height for year round interest. In our workshop we also got hands-on and created ‘layered garden’s in microcosm, planting a ‘lasagna’ of sequentially flowering bulbs which will keep on blooming with spring color for up to two months. We have donated the containers to residents at Elm Court.

Garden History & Design two part workshop

May 03, 2018

Part 2 - Installing the Healing Garden


Click here for some pictures of the work in progress

Garden History & Design two-part workshop

April 19, 2018

Part 1 - Designing a Healing Garden.

Click here for the presentation.

Garden History & Design Ideas for April

March 06, 2018

NEW BOOK : City Green: Public Gardens of New York (published 20 March 2018)

Jane Garmey & Mick Hales

Many of NYC's green spaces, such as Roosevelt Park, the Inwood Heather Garden, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Chinese Scholar's Garden, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, Noguchi Museum Garden in Long Island City, Queens and Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side remain relatively under-visited and under-appreciated. This book looks at the wealth of public horticulture in NYC, from the well-known parks and botanical gardens to  community- and conservancy-sponsored gardens, museum gardens, and indoor atria. 

WEBSITE : Therapeutic Landscapes Network

This is a gathering space of designers, health and human service providers, scholars, and gardeners and offers abroad array of links and articles on healing gardens, restorative landscapes, and other green spaces that promote health and well-being. 

Garden History & Design Ideas for March

March 06, 2018

WEBLINK: 12 Ways to Design a Bird-friendly Garden

This article from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers suggestions about how to make your garden more attractive to birds. Tips include including vertical layering of the plants which the birds use for different purposes like nesting and foraging, also leaving dead branches and dead trees (if they are safe) to attract native birds like chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches.


More on the topic of dead trees and their importance in the landscape and value to wildlife can be found in this article: The Special Wildlife of Trees one of a series from the UK's Woodland Trust.

FILM: "The Life and Gardens of Beatrix Farrand" A Documentary Film by Karyl Evans.

Beatrix Farrand was the most successful female landscape architect in early 20th century America and one of the founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Some of the gardens Evans photographed and chronicled for the film include: the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine, Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D.C., the East Garden at the White House, the Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, her campus work at Yale and Princeton Universities, as well as three significant gardens in Connecticut.

Click here for the trailer. The full documentary can be purchased from the site and costs $25. 

ARTICLE: How Hospital Gardens Help Patients Heal (Scientific American, 1 March 2012)

"Just  three to five minutes spent looking at views dominated by trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anger, anxiety and pain and to induce relaxation, according to various studies of healthy people that measured physiological changes in blood pressure, muscle tension, or heart and brain electrical activity.

Indeed, the benefits of seeing and being in nature are so powerful that even pictures of landscapes can soothe."

Read the article here. 

Garden History & Design Ideas for February

February 13, 2018

PODCAST: Growing A Revolution: America's Founding Gardeners (NPR, Science Friday) 

Monticello garden director Peter Hatch and historian Andrea Wulf discuss how Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison helped create the uniquely American garden. Click here 

DOCUMENTARY: Beautiful Japanese Gardens

Takahiro Naka, a professor of garden history who is actively involved in garden design and restoration projects explains the many Japanese garden styles: from tea gardens, to the dry gardens of Zen Buddhism, to the pocket gardens of city-dwellers. And in Plus One, a Japanese rock garden that fits on your tabletop. To watch, click here.

WEBSITE: The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Cultural landscapes are landscapes that have been affected, influenced, or shaped by human involvement. A cultural landscape can be associated with a person or event. It can be thousands of acres or a tiny homestead. It can be a grand estate, industrial site, park, garden, cemetery, campus, and more. Collectively, cultural landscapes are works of art, narratives of culture, and expressions of regional identity. Click here.

Garden History & Design January Ideas

January 09, 2018

BOOK:  The Education Of A Gardener  by Russell Page 

(New York Review Books Classics) 

The memoirs of Russell Page, one of the legendary gardeners and landscapers of the twentieth century, designed gardens great and small for clients throughout the world, combine personal reminiscence, and practical know-how. 



Documentary telling the story of Hidcote - the most influential English garden of the 20th century - and Lawrence Johnston, the enigmatic genius behind it. Hidcote was the first garden ever taken on by the National Trust, who spent 3.5 million pounds in a major programme of restoration. This included researching Johnston's original vision, which in turn uncovered the compelling story of how Johnston created such an iconic garden.


3 MINUTE INTERVIEW with Wilson McWilliam Studio.

How to integrate architecture and garden design. (Dezeen for trade show Garden Unique, British garden designer)

Garden History & Design Books and Web page ideas from the November 2017 Meeting

November 14, 2017

The High Line is New York City’s newest park, running from Gansevoort up to 34th Street. It opened in 2009 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 20th 2014 which celebrated the completion of the third section. 


BOOK : " Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes " (Timber Press, 2017)



PODCAST: In this podcast of an interview with Landscape Designer, Rick Darke on NPR’s “Cultivating Place” he describes the origins of the plantings and how best to look at this Urban Garden:



WEBSITE: Friends of the High Line raises 98% of the High Line’s annual budget. In the Gardens section of their website you can find the full plant list and what plants are in bloom each month and where you can find them. - /plants

Container Gardening Workshop

November 07, 2017

For the presentation, click here.

Garden History & Design Books and Web page ideas from the October 2017 Meeting

October 10, 2017

Secret History of the British Garden

Monty Don presents four fascinating one-hour programs on each of  the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. You can find them on YouTube.



The New American Garden

James van Sweden (designer of Tippet Rise in Montana) in a 3 1/2 minute video talking about this design concept which started in 1981.



The Garden Design Journal

The journal for the Society of Garden Designers

This British publication has some truly stunning pictures, (look at the Jencks' earthworks in Scotland and Tippet Rise in Montana) as well as ideas for private gardens, wildlife havens and interviews with leading designers.

Garden History & Design Ideas from the September 2017 Meeting

September 12, 2017

New York Botanical Garden

18th Annual Winter Lecture Series

Three Thursdays: January 25, February 22, March 29, 10–11:30 a.m. Ross Hall, New York Botanical Garden

This year three renowned gardeners, plantsmen, and environmental stewards talk about their own personal gardens.



Digital Library of Landscape Architecture

This site has 40 virtual tours of famous gardens in 11 countries. You can tour places like Parc Guell, Versailles, The Alhambra and The Blue Mosque. 


Jens Jensen  -  The Living Green

Award-winning documentary by Viva Lundin Productions and the University of Michigan.

Jensen was a pioneering conservationist, landscape architect and one of the creators of “Prairie Style.”

It’s available on Amazon at the link below. You can buy or rent it on Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime, it’s free.

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