The Bulletins of Reef Point Gardens

by Beatrix Farrand; Introduction by Paula Deitz

asticou azalea garden and thuya garden

During a ten-year period, from 1946 to 1956, the Reef Point Gardens Bulletins were published by Beatrix Farrand from Reef Point, her house and garden in Bar Harbor, Maine. Mrs. Farrand (1872-1959), who was the niece of the novelist Edith Wharton, became one of America’s preeminent landscape gardeners. She designed the Italianate gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., created gardens at the White House during the administration of President Woodrow Wilson and landscaped the campuses of Princeton and Yale Universities.

 

At Reef Point, Mrs. Farrand established an extensive horticultural library and an outstanding collection of plants. The contents of her house and garden were dispersed when Mrs. Farrand felt that the future of the gardens could no longer be guaranteed. The books and papers were sent to the University of California at Berkeley, and the plants transferred to the Thuya and Asticou Azalea Gardens in Northeast Harbor, Maine.

 

The articles Mrs. Farrand wrote for the Reef Point Gardens Bulletins described the plantings in her gardens – the roses, the vines, the heathers and the native plants – and how she cultivated them; they are filled with illustrations and represent a distillation of her wide knowledge and experience. Original issues of the Bulletins are now scarce and difficult to find in their entirety, and thus this collection of them in book form is of value not only to those interested in the life of this remarkable landscape gardener but also to garden historians in general.

 

In her introduction, Paula Deitz discusses Beatrix Farrand’s national career designing estate gardens and public landscapes at the beginning of the era when women entered the field as professionals. A focus on her life in Maine stresses the importance of the gardens she designed locally, including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor. Mrs. Farrand also collaborated with John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on developing the plans for structures, roadways and plantings in Acadia National Park. The Bulletins of Reef Point Gardens, as the repository of her ideas and projects, is symbolic of the scholarly strength and practical observations that fueled her creative force.

 

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