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Arnold Arboretum

Happy Birthday, Beatrix Farrand

Beatrix Farrand

Beatrix Farrand and her dog, Cubby, in San Marino, California, 1934. Diane Cousins Collection, Beatrix Farrand Society Archives.

June 19, 2014 marks the 142nd birthday of Beatrix Jones Farrand. Among the most groundbreaking American landscape architects of the twentieth century, she was the only female founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Born into the rigid, old-New York aristocracy where women were not encouraged in professional circles, she overcame such obstacles through determined study, innovative landscape design, and a rugged work ethic.

Encouraged and apprenticed by Charles Sprague Sargent, Farrand studied plant identification and planting design on the Arboretum grounds and went on to design Azalea Border, led major renovations of Bussey Hill and Peters Hill, and installed gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, and more than a hundred others.

Please join us in celebrating the life of Beatrix Farrand and the accomplishments of women in the history of the horticultural sciences.

Farrand’s quotations about trees

“The first years of this new plantation will not be as attractive as the later ones, since many older plants have been used which had to be neglected in the past. Some will look ungainly as they have been taken from crowded masses and this has meant hard pruning in order to give them a fresh start. As the marsh meadow border develops, further little tufts and wisps of the smaller Ericaceae will be tucked into the bays and hollows of the long line, and a walk next to the meadow will be made, so that the plants may be looked at from the marsh and from above on level of the Meadow Road.”
“The Azalea Border.” Arnoldia, 1949

“It is humiliating, but perhaps salutary, to realize that most of us need to have our eyes opened to our daily surroundings. We may think we know every stick and stone of a certain stretch of road or a familiar view, but we are actually quite unobservant and need to be told where to look for certain features of our daily walk which would otherwise pass unnoticed. It seems as though familiarity must breed blindness as well as the traditional contempt; otherwise it would not be necessary to call us to ‘Stop–Look–Listen!” and see what grows at our very doors. This is just what the Arnold Arboretum has done.”
“The Debt of Landscape Art to a Museum of Trees.” Architectural Record, 1918

“No one should attempt the profession who has not by nature a quality which corresponds to the musician’s ear for music; that is, the power to perceive and assimilate the characteristics of landscape. In other words, no one can be a landscape gardener who has not an eye, any more than a musician can be made from a person who has no ear. This means the appreciation of the texture as well as the color of the landscape, the peculiar quality of each individual place and its adaptation to specific treatment . . . wide familiarity with the growth, needs, and expression of the trees, shrubs, and herbs, is required to give the landscape artist the palette which is needed to paint the open-air picture.”
“Landscape Gardening.” Vocations for the Trained Woman–Opportunities other than Teaching, 1910

Did you know?

Beatrix Farrand is niece of the author Edith Wharton.

In addition to her earlier work at the Arnold Arboretum, Farrand served the institution as a landscape consultant from 1946 to 1950.

Farrand wrote and published her autobiography in the Reef Point Gardens Bulletin in 1959.

Related Links

In celebration of its tenth anniversary, the Beatrix Farrand Society is hosting an all-day seminar, Preserving Farrand’s Gardens, at the College of the Atlantic in Maine on July 27, 2013.

Beatrix Jones Farrand Collection, 1866-1959 at the Online Archive of California.

Arboretum Horticultural Library Holdings

Beatrix Jones Farrand (1872-1959) papers, 1938-1953. Archive of the Arnold Arboretum.
(Please contact Library for assistance.)

Farrand, Beatrix. 1946. “Contemplated Landscape Changes at the Arnold Arboretum.” Arnoldia 6(10): 45-48 [pdf]

Farrand, Beatrix. 1949. “The Azalea Border.” Arnoldia 9(2): 6-7 [pdf]

Farrand, Beatrix. 1949. “Peters Hill.” Arnoldia 9(2): 38-43 [pdf]

Brown, Jane. 1991. “Lady into Landscape Gardener: Beatrix Farrand’s Early Years at the Arnold Arboretum.” Arnoldia 51(3): 3-10 [pdf]

Brown, Jane. 1992. “The Lady as Landscape Gardener: Beatrix Farrand at the Arnold Arboretum, Part 2.” Arnoldia 52(1): 9-17 [pdf]

Farrand, Beatrix. The Collected Writings of Beatrix Farrand: American Landscape Gardener (1872-1959). Edited by Carmen Pearson. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2009.

Tankard, Judith B. Beatrix Farrand: Private Gardens, Public Landscapes. New York, NY: Monacelli Press, 2009.

Brown, Jane. Beatrix: The Gardening Life of Beatrix Jones Farrand, 1872-1959. New York, NY: Viking, 1995.

Way, Thaïsa. Unbounded Practice: Women and Landscape Architecture in the Early Twentieth Century. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2009.

Karson, Robin S. A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, in association with Library of American Landscape History, 2007.

Reef Point Gardens Bulletin. The Bulletins of Reef Point Gardens. Bar Harbor, ME; Island Foundation, Sagaponack, NY: Distributed by Sagapress, 1997.

Balmori, Diana. Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes: Her Gardens and Campuses. Sagaponack, N.Y.: Sagapress; Millwood, NY: Distributed by Kraus R. and P., 1985.

Van Valkenburgh, Michael. Built Landscapes: Gardens in the Northeast; Gardens by Beatrix Farrand, Fletcher Steele, James Rose, A.E. Bye, Dan Kiley. Brattleboro, VT: Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, 1984.

McGuire, Diane Kostial (ed.) Beatrix Farrand’s Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, 1993, c1980.

McGuire, Diane Kostial and Fern, Lois (eds.) Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium on the History of Landscape Architecture (8th: 1980) Beatrix Jones Farrand (1872-1959): fifty years of American landscape architecture. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, 1982.

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