Vintage landscape: repurposed

Formal victory garden, ca. 1918, Library of Congress

World War I victory garden in a formal setting, location unknown,* ca. 1917 – ca. 1920, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The photo seems to have been taken for the National War Garden Commission, also known as the National Emergency Food Garden Commission.

The organization was created in early 1917 by Charles Lathrop Pack.  It sponsored a campaign of pamphlets, posters, and press releases aimed at “arous[ing] the patriots of America to the importance of putting all idle land to work, to teach them how to do it, and to educate them to conserve by canning and drying all food that they could not use while fresh.”

Like it or not, what you do with the land around your house tells the world what sort of citizen you are.

Abby Adams, The Gardener’s Gripe Book

*Harris & Ewing was located in Washington, D.C.

Vintage landscape: Thornewood

A little Monday morning prettiness. . .

Thornewood, 1923, F.B.Johnston, via LibraryCongressThe walk to the house from the flower garden at “Thornewood,” Lakewood, Washington, 1923, a hand-colored glass lantern slide by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The house was built between 1909 and 1911 for Chester and Anna Thorne — constructed partly  from a 400-year-old Elizabethan manor house, which Chester purchased in England and had dismantled and shipped to Lakewood.

Thornewood’s over 30 acres of formal “English” gardens were designed by James Frederick Dawson and John Charles Olmsted of Olmsted Brothers from 1908 to 1913.  They were originally cared for by 28 gardeners.

In 1926, House Beautiful magazine named Thornewood one of the five most beautiful formal gardens in America. In 1929, the Garden Club of America held its national convention there.

Today, the property still exists as the Thornewood Castle Inn and Gardens.

It is magnificent. It is what God would have done if he had the money.

— [of a perfectly groomed estate] Noel Coward

Life in gardens: many pretty devises

Embroidering in the garden, via British Library“Ladies seated at their embroidery, including one engaged in lace-making, and another at the virginal, with a man beside her singing. Behind, a formal garden, with clipped hedges, parterres, and fountain.”  

The image  is from the Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, 1603-1637, (Würzburg and Salzburg) via The British Library Commons on flickr.

It’s hard to see how any of them could work over their ruffs.

Now for women instead of laborious studies, they have curious Needle-workes, Cut-workes, spinning, bone-lace, and many pretty devises of their own making, to adorne their houses, Cushions, Carpets, Chairs, Stooles, confections, conserves, distillations, etc. which they shew to strangers. . . . This they have to busie themselves about, household offices, etc. neate gardens full of exotick, versicoloure, diversely varied, sweet smelling flowers, and plants, in all kindes, which they are most ambitious to get, curious to preserve and keepe, proud to possesse, and much many times to bragge of.

Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621

A formal garden in Italy

The Formal GardenHow lovely.

Just lavender (clipped), box, and Russian sage in September.
Just lavender (clipped), box, and Russian sage — in September.

Until recently, I had somehow missed the blog, Creating my own garden of the Hesperides.  I found it last week, via a picture on Pinterest.

The Formal Garden

I wrote to Christina, who gardens in Lazio, Italy, and asked her if I could share some of her pictures of her “Formal Garden,” which is so beautiful and simple.

The garden in October.
The garden in October.  All photos by Christina.

The garden was laid out and planted in 2008.  The soil is soft volcanic rock, which is fertile and free-draining.  The area usually receives no rain from June through August, and Christina does not irrigate.  In the winter, there is “bitingly cold” wind.

The garden in June.
The garden in June.

The four identical beds are planted with Perovskia (Russian sage), edged with lavender, and accented with boxwood cubes at the corners.  The two beds nearest the house are underplanted with tulip ‘White Dream‘ and allium.

The lavender borders are clipped before September.
The lavender borders are clipped flat later in the season.

Christina also has  large and small island-shaped borders with mixed plantings, many old roses, and a vegetable garden.  Here is how she explains the name of her blog:

The garden of the Hesperides was where Hercules had to go to find the golden apples, references to it  in Italian Renaissace gardens are a symbolic way of comparing the garden to paradise, a way of achieving immortality through hard work. So this garden is, for me, my paradise and certainly the hard work in achieving it will bring its own reward.

The garden after a January snow.
The garden after a January snow.

All photos above ©Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. Thanks!

How do you define ‘elegance’?
“Simplicity and imagination.”

— from an interview with actress Helen Mirren