Landscape Artists Beatrix Farrand and Lynden Miller

Christina Knight | May 26, 2020


Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes premieres on THIRTEEN Monday, June 1 at 10 p.m.

“Gardens are good for the soul,” says public garden designer Lynden B. Miller in the documentary Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes. Whether in public parks, landscaped cemeteries or private gardens, to spend time outdoors is one of the few past times possible during the coronavirus pandemic. With most of our lives at a standstill, we literally have time to stop and smell the flowers. With the premiere of this film on PBS, we can now learn about those who dedicated their careers to bringing nature to homes, campuses, and public spaces.

The landscape artist Beatrix Farrand (1872 – 1959), a native New Yorker, was responsible for some of the most celebrated gardens in the United States and helped create a distinctive American voice in landscape architecture. The film Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes follows Miller as she sets off to explore the remarkable life and career of America’s first female landscape architect.

While the film focuses on Farrand, the only founding woman of the American Society of Landscape Architects, it also grants us time with host Lynden Miller, who has designed so many green spaces in New York City. Her most famous project is the restoration of Central Park’s Conservatory Garden in 1982–1983. It’s hard to imagine a New Yorker who hasn’t appreciated her green thumb in one season or another, including at these urban retreats, to name a few:

  • The Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden at New York Botanical Garden
  • Fort Tryon Park’s Heather Garden
  • Bryant Park
  • Madison Square Park’s planting beds
  • Chelsea Cove Entry Garden at Pier 62
  • Trinity Church Yard
  • Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park in Battery Park City
  • Pier 44 Waterfront Garden in Red Hook, Brooklyn

 

Beatrix Farrand

One might not expect that the well-heeled woman who designed the gardens of the wealthy began her business from her family brownstone on East 11th Street. Some of Farrand’s commissions came through connections of her aunt: New York society icon and author Edith Wharton.

According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, Beatrix Farrand was renown for her complex flower borders and advocacy of native landscapes and plants, which she wove into a classical design framework. Some of her decades-long affiliations were with the Morgan Library in New York City; Princeton University; Yale University; and University of Chicago.

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One of her existing gardens today that is open to the public is the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at New York Botanical Garden. Though she designed it in 1916, it was not full realized until 1988.

The New York Botanical Garden held the world premiere of Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes. in 2019, at which Sir Peter Crane, Lynden Miller, John Beardsley and Stephen Ives recalled the adventures they had making the film. The account of the evening, and more about the film and Farrand’s life is detailed on The New York Botanical Garden site.

Tune-in on Monday, June 1 at 10 p.m. to see the film on THIRTEEN.