Divas of Design: Women Landscape Architects

On Saturday I went to a terrific day of lectures on women in landscape architecture in the 20th century sponsored by the Lord & Schryver Garden Conservancy.  Speakers were:

Thaisa Way of University of Washington who has a new book out “Unbounded Practice: Women and Landscape architecture in the early 20th century”

and Judith Tankard of Harvard whose new book “Beatrix Farrand.   Private Gardens, Public Landscapes” is one of seven Tankard has written on women landscape architects.

After lunch Salem’s own extraordinary gardener and champion of public gardens in Salem Gretchen Carnaby, spoke about Salem’s own women Landscape architects Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver (both graduates of Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture) whose landmark practice was established in Salem in 1928.  A few years ago I took some rainy spring photos in the Lord and Schryver “home garden”, the garden they designed for their own house, and tended for many decades.  Here’s the oak allee

a view through the pergola toward the flower garden

and a view from the flower garden:

Sharon Rose and I are curating a show of the designs and drawings of Lord & Schryver which will open the summer of 2011 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, so this was the perfect moment to get in the garden mood!


  1. When I was a student taking LA classes, all we ever heard about was Frederick Law Olmsted. It’s so nice to see women being recognized for their extraordinary contributions and accomplishments! Please keep us posted as the 2011 exhibition opening nears…

  2. I hope you’ll situate L & S body of work regionally, nationally, and historically. To someone interested in architecture, but not gardening, the L & S press locally has seemed more boosterism than critical – look, Deepwood! Bush House! the Home Garden! But the gardens look fussy and old-fashioned to me. Tell me why they matter outside of Salem and why they are of more than merely antiquarian interest.

  3. The best L&S gardens for me are the ones designed in concert with the design of a house. The Robertson house garden, the home garden, the Smith house garden–all Clarence Smith designed houses and L&S gardens. The idea of gardens being “designed”, gardens relating to sight lines out the windows of houses, gardens having their own “rooms” thereby extending the idea of the house to the idea of the garden…all pretty radical in 1928 (and possibly would be a revelation to many in 2010…!?). The interesting thing about visiting these gardens 75 years later is that they (L&S) had it right..though possibly over-grown, in some cases not cared for well, the “bones” of the gardens remain, and please the eye. We WILL work on context for the exhibit, but L&S exist within a regional, national and even international context. Better come see in 2011! Additionally, these gardens really aren’t “fussy”. The plant choices and layouts are the great blend of convoluted simplicty. (I think you could be converted if you like architecture.)

  4. Well, for me the box hedges and the totality of the gardens say “Versailles” much more than “Chrysler Building.” I’m struggling with the “radical” part…

    In any event, I am very happy to learn of the gallery show! I look forward to that and to learning more about L & S’s work. Even if you don’t persuade us garden philistines, you will teach us something new about Salem! It’s great that the Hallie Ford space is being used in this way. Thank you!

    1. YES. I adore your blog and when my show is “put to bed” I’m doing two posts on plane trees and street trees inspired by your blog. Do I need to do something to guest post?? You’ll tell me I know../

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