Nature abhors a vacuum

cynthia_gwJanuary 17, 2004

Ah, it just seemed so deserted down here....

Let's test. Here are some photos from Louise Shelton's Beautiful Gardens of America, published in 1915.

Lenox, Mass. Does anyone know how this looks now?

Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore Maryland. It was 'Cylburn House' when the photo was taken. Those glorious hedges are gone. Cylburn looks ok now, but it wasn't restored. It was maintained, modified and expanded. The trees are wonderful. The perennial beds and grounds that are there now seem to be a compromise.

"Indian Hill" in Mentor, Ohio.

Woodside in Hartford Connecticut.

One thing I notice about the old gardens: The paths. Lots of grass paths in the more comfortable gardens. I ended up with grass paths in the gardens of my 1920's house. They work with the house.

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Cynthia - Thanks! What a wonderful book - I'm envious.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 9:34AM
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Those pictures are wonderful! Thanks. Are there more pictures in this book you could post and does the book describe anything about the plants and hardscape that went into these gardens? (This probably isn't a book I could get through interlibrary loan since it sounds like an antique, itself.--Darn!)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 1:05PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

So do you scan the pictures out of the book and then post them? How'd you do that ?? Love viewing old garden photos and postcards; I have started a collection. They are good teachers, too. True about the grassy paths. Thanks for starting things out beautifully, Cynthia.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 5:46PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Cynthia--you ROCK! I like grassy paths--but you need SUN for them...and adequate rainfall. Ohio has some nice grass....


    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 10:11PM
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i sink my stepping stones into the ground and let nature take over. i like the look of natural paths that have settled and become one with the earth. the pictures, they show vistas and seating areas, places to explore and rest.........thanks for sharing

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 9:48PM
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I am a landscape historian and have done a lot of work in the area of American garden literature. Louise Shelton's Beautiful Gardens in America, 1915, was extremely popular and should not be difficult to find. It is almost all photos, with very little text. So many were published that you might well be able to get it thru ILL--it just isn't that rare. Styles were changing so rapidly--everything Victorian was being swept away--that a completely new edition was published in 1924. There are a number of repeated photos/gardens but many new ones too. It is definitely true that these books portrayed estates. Nonetheless, you can get a sense of the flavor of the times from the photos. For instnace, you will see many perennials, whereas a Victorian garden will tend to feature annuals, bedded-out in patterns, or tropical foliage plants. There is no comparable book of photos for middle-class homeowners. The best illustrations are in magazines, but you would need access to a major library, like the NY Public Library, to see these. Landscape history is a relatively new field in the US but the books are pouring forth. They do tend to focus on high-end landscape design, as those gardens, as in Louise Shelton's books, were more "gardening as a fine art" and better documented in their time.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 11:04PM
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Ginny, I've noticed the 1924 (or is 1928) versions and wondered if it was the same . Now that I know there are differences I'll be on the look-out for a good quality 1928 edition. Thanks! Any period books that you can recommend that are worth buying? I look on the auction sights and used book dealer inventorys at Amazon and B&N, but you never know if the content (words & pictures) is worthwhile until you buy.

Ginger, I don't have a scanner so I take digital photos using Macro :-)

Redthistle, They've left Texas completely out of this edition but I'll be on the look out for pics old gardens in your state!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2004 at 8:05PM
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Cynthia, the second edition is 1924. The books to recommend are so many that it is dizzying. Are you interested mainly in books with photos? Photography only began to appear in magazines and books in the 1890s and it was expensive, so most publishers included relatively few. Before that, illustrations in American books were mostly fairly simple drawings and engravings. Is there a specific period you are interested in--or a general view of American gardens? Are you interested primarily in American books, or British ones as well? If you can let me know, I could suggest some titles. And if you have access to a good horticultural library, you could look at them first before you buy.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2004 at 11:00PM
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Pictures 3 and 4 are very inspirational to me. That is a style I truely love.

Very much like Schoolhouse's garden style. Love it.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 12:24PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

wow, so gorgeous. thankyou for posting these!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 2:58PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Ahhh. Very pretty. I want grassy paths!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 2:11PM
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