Sunday, April 28, 2019

Beatrix Farrand’s Everlasting Impact

Lynden B. Miller and Patrick Chassé in NYBG’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.

By Johnny Moseman

During her lifetime, Beatrix Farrand was one of the the most influential and decorated garden designers during the 20th century. More importantly, she was a trailblazer, setting the path for women to become successful garden designers; a field where women were not too common before Farrand.

The only female member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Farrand was known for her innovate designs, including works at Dumbarton Oaks, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), and campuses such as Yale and Princeton.

Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes, directed by Stephen Ives and Anne Cleve Symmes and hosted by Lynden B. Miller, tells the story of how Farrand was able to become one of the most prolific garden designers of the 20th century; and the first woman to do it.

“We had a desire to share how modern her designs are,” consulting producer Karen Waltuch said of the film. “She was very vibrant, modern, and forward thinking.”

In a time where not many people may know who Farrand is these days, this film was the perfect opportunity for the filmmakers to show how influential Farrand was during her time as a garden designer, as well as inspiring the next generation of garden designers.

“This was a great opportunity to introduce a new audience to her,” Waltuch said. “It’s hard to make her feel alive and vibrant as us gardeners know her so this was a great chance to expose people to something they might not have known.”

The film started production three years ago and premiered last month during the Environmental Film Festival held in Washington DC.

One thing Waltuch wishes of the film was that they could have included the hours of footage that did not make it in, but she said the goal is to now compile those interviews and make them available since they are valuable documentation of Farrand’s life and impact on garden landscaping.

The filmmakers, including Symmes and Waltuch, are now trying to keep Farrand’s legacy alive through her existing gardens by coordinating the Beatrix Farrand Alliance.

“We hope this film was a catalyst for keeping this going and we hope to continue that relationship this film has developed,” Waltuch said. “The first step is bringing the community together.”

To try and help in bringing this community back together, the Beatrix Farrand Alliance is hosting Farrand/FORWARD, a symposium on the future of Beatrix Farrand’s public landscapes held Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2 at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center in Hyde Park, New York. This symposium will offer garden tours of the Beatrix Farrand Garden in Hyde Park as well as screenings of the film after with a Q&A from Ives and Miller.

(Note that there is another Farrand documentary recently released, The Life and Gardens of Beatrix Farrand, by filmmaker Karyl Evans. The two films are similar, but have a different focus and viewpoint.)

About the Author
Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring semester.

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