Beatrix Cadwalader Farrand (née Jones; June 19, 1872 – February 28, 1959) was an American landscape gardener and landscape architect. Her career included commissions to design about 110 gardens for private residences, estates and country homes, public parks, botanic gardens, college campuses, and the White House. Only a few of her major works survive: Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.,[1] the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden on Mount Desert, Maine, the restored Farm House Garden in Bar Harbor,[2] the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden (constructed after Farrand's death, using her original plans, and opened in 1988),[3] and elements of the campuses of Princeton, Yale, and Occidental.[4]

Beatrix Farrand
Beatrix Cadwalader Jones

(1872-06-19)June 19, 1872
New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 28, 1959(1959-02-28) (aged 86)
Alma materArnold Arboretum, Columbia School of Mines
(m. 1913; died 1945)
Parent(s)Mary Cadwalader Rawle
Frederic Rhinelander Jones
ProjectsDumbarton Oaks, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden
External videos
video icon Beatrix Farrand Tribute Film, Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame
video icon Big Ideas for Small Spaces – The Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield, Gardening the Hudson Valley

Farrand was one of the founding eleven members, and the only woman, of the American Society of Landscape Architects.[5]: 31–35  Beatrix Farrand is one of the most accomplished persons, and women, recognized in both the first decades of the landscape architecture profession and the centuries of landscape garden design arts and accomplishments.[6]

Early years


Beatrix Cadwalader Jones was born in New York City on June 19, 1872, into a family among whom she liked to claim were "five generations of gardeners."[4]: 10  Her mother was Mary Cadwalader Rawle (1850–1923), whose father was lawyer William Henry Rawle (1823–1889).[7] Her father was Frederic Rhinelander Jones (1846–1918), brother of novelist Edith Wharton.[8]

She enjoyed long seasons at the family's summer home Reef Point Estate in Mount Desert Island, Maine.[1] She was the niece of Edith Wharton[9] and lifelong friend of Henry James, who called her 'Trix'.[10] At age twenty, she was introduced to one of her primary mentors, the botanist Charles Sprague Sargent, who at Harvard University was both a professor of horticulture at the Bussey Institute and the founding director of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts.[11][12] Sargent named a species, Crataegus jonesae, in her honor, as it was she who first noticed it and brought it to his attention.[13]

Farrand lived at Sargent's home, Holm Lea in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1893 and studied landscape gardening, for which there was no specialized school at the time, botany, and land planning.[14][15] She wanted to learn drafting to scale, elevation rendering, surveying, and engineering, and so studied at the Columbia School of Mines under the direction of Prof. William Ware.[16] She was influenced in using native plant species from: her many successful Reef Point experiences; studying the contemporary books from the U.S. and abroad advocating the advantages of native palettes; and from visiting the influential British garden authors William Robinson at Gravetye Manor in Sussex, and Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood in Surrey.[1] Jekyll's series of thematic gardening books emphasized the importance and value of natural plantings and were influential in the U.S.[17]

On December 17, 1913, Beatrix married Max Farrand,[14]: 35  the accomplished historian at Stanford and Yale universities, and the first director of the Huntington Library.[18]

Landscape design career

Fountain at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., site of her best known garden design

She began practicing landscape architecture in 1895, working from the upper floor of her mother's brownstone house on East Eleventh Street in New York.[5]: 26  Since women were excluded from public projects, her first designs were residential gardens, beginning with some for neighbouring Bar Harbor residents.[5]: 57  With the help of her mother and with her aunt Edith Wharton's social connections, she was introduced to prominent people, which led to working on a variety of significant projects. Within three years she was so prominent in her field that she was chosen the only woman among the founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects, although she preferred the British term "landscape gardener".[5]: 35 

Farrand did the initial site and planting planning for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., in 1899.[14]: 54  In 1912, she designed the walled residential garden, Bellefield, for Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Newbold in Hyde Park, New York (now a part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site).[19] In addition to being the earliest extant example of her residential designs, this exquisite walled garden, now restored, is one of the only known pairings of works by two prominent designers of that era—Farrand and the architects McKim, Mead & White — who remodeled the Newbolds' eighteenth-century house.[20] She collaborated with the firm of McKim, Mead & White in the construction of service buildings at Dumbarton Oaks.[21]

For the White House, the first Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, Ellen Loise Axson Wilson, had commissioned Beatrix Farrand to design the East Colonial Garden (now redesigned as the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden) and the West Garden (now the redesigned White House Rose Garden) in 1913.[22][23] After Mrs. Wilson's August 1914 death the project languished until the second Mrs. Wilson, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, had its installation restarted and completed in 1916.[24][25] She received the commission from J. Pierpont Morgan to design the grounds of Morgan's residence in New York City (later the site of the Morgan Library & Museum), and continued as a consultant for thirty years (1913–43).[25]: 204–216 

Dumbarton Oaks site plan

Her most notable work was at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in the Georgetown district of Washington, D.C., for Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss (1922–1940). Her design was inspired by her European ventures, especially from the Italian Renaissance gardens, and consisted of establishing a sophisticated relationship between the architectural and natural environments, with formal terraced gardens stepping down a steep slope and transitioning to a more naturalistic aesthetic approaching the creek.[25]: 138–42, 152–58, 196–200 

In 1928, her husband accepted the position as the first Director of The Huntington Library (1927–41) in San Marino, California.[25]: 143, 177  They moved to California, but Farrand had trouble building a clientele in that state.[25]: 144–45  William Hertrich had long standing dominion of the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington. The landscape designers Florence Yoch and Louise Council, and Lockwood DeForest Jr., among others, were already well established there. Her few projects came via friends, such as the Bliss winter and retirement estate, Casa Dorinda, in Montecito, California, and the patronage of Mildred Bliss's mother, Anna Blakely Bliss, for the nearby Santa Barbara Botanic Garden project. In the Los Angeles area, she had several commissions each with astronomer George Ellery Hale and architect Myron Hunt. With the latter she worked on projects at Occidental College and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).[25]: 146, 195, 203–04 

Farrand commuted cross-country by train for her eastern projects, such as the design and supervision of the Chinese inspired garden at 'The Eyrie' for Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in Seal Harbor, Maine (1926–35). This was the era of the automobile, and in her designs Farrand applied principles learned earlier from Frederick Law Olmsted's drives at the Arnold Arboretum and the Biltmore Estate of George Washington Vanderbilt II. John D. Rockefeller Jr.[26] sought out and funded Farrand to design planting plans for subtle carriage roads at Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, Maine, near her Reef Point home (c.1930).[25]: 208  Their use continues at the Park.

Extant Farrand private gardens in the eastern U.S. are: the Bliss family's Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.; the Harkness summer home 'Eolia' in Waterford, Connecticut (1918–1924), now preserved as the Harkness Memorial State Park;[27] and the Rockefellers' estate 'The Eyrie' in Seal Harbor, Maine.[25]: 204, 208  She also collaborated with Edith Wharton on landscape and garden design for The Mount, Wharton's home in Lenox, Massachusetts, which is open to visitors from May–October.[28] Henry James introduced her to Theodate Pope Riddle, "one of her most fascinating clients", who owned the estate 'Hill-Stead' (1913), now preserved as the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut.[25]: 87  In 1942, with Walter Macomber, she designed the gardens at Green Spring, near Alexandria, Virginia.[29]

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, for California native plants, represents her talent in Santa Barbara, California.[30] In England, her evolving major project, 'Dartington Hall', was for heiress Dorothy Payne Elmhirst in Devon (1932–37).[25]: 149–52, 216  The Reef Point Collection of her library, drawings and herbarium specimens are archived in the Environmental Design Archives at the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley campus, except for the Dumbarton Oaks documents located at the library there, and the Arnold Arboretum drawings in their archives, both under the stewardship of Harvard.[25]: 188–89, 198–201, 209 

In 2014, Farrand was recognized for her work designing the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden[31][32] at New York Botanical Garden, a winning site of Built by Women New York City,[33] a competition launched by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation during the fall of 2014 to identify outstanding and diverse sites and spaces designed, engineered and built by women.

College campuses


Farrand's campus designs were based on three concepts: plants that bloomed throughout the academic year, emphasizing architecture as well as hiding flaws, and using upright and climbing plants so that the small spaces between buildings would not seem reduced in scale.[34] Her designs are noted for their practicality, simplicity and ease of maintenance.[4]: 13  She was the first consulting landscape architect for Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey (1912–43).[35][36][37]

As new buildings are constructed at Princeton now, architects are often referred to Farrand's papers at U.C. Berkeley. She was the consulting landscape architect at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, for twenty-three years (1923–45), with projects including the Marsh Botanical Garden.[38] She later went on to improve a dozen other campuses including the University of Chicago (1929–43),[39] along with Southern California's Occidental College and the California Institute of Technology.[40] Beatrix Farrand completed design work for the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women (1931–32).[41] Later, she was also the landscape consultant to the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (1946–50).[25]: 204–09, 213. 

Later years and death


During the last part of her life, Farrand devoted herself to creating a landscape study center at Reef Point, Maine. Here she continued developing the extensive garden and preparing the property for a transition to a public study center.[42] She published the Reef Point Gardens Bulletin (1946–55), in which she reported on the progress of the gardens and center.[43]

After a wildfire on the island and facing a lack of funding to complete and ensure the continued operation of a center she made a remarkable decision in 1955 to discontinue the preparations, dismantle the garden, sell the property, and use the proceeds for her last years. John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased all Reef Point's larger plants for his Asticou Azalea Garden in Northeast Harbor, Maine, which continue to flower.[25]: 190 [44] Approximately 2,000 herbarium specimens were given to the University and Jepson Herbaria at the University of California, Berkeley, where they serve as a permanent record of her choice of plants and localities.[45][46]

Farrand lived at and spent the last three years of her life at Garland Farm, the home of her friends Lewis and Amy Magdalene Garland, on Mount Desert Island, Maine.[47] It was here that she created her final garden, an intimate space in keeping with the size of the property.[10] At age 86, Farrand died at the Mount Desert Island Hospital on February 28, 1959.[25]: 190 

The Garland Farm was purchased by the Beatrix Farrand Society on January 9, 2004.[48] The society's mission is "to foster the art and science of horticulture and landscape design, with emphasis on the life and work of Beatrix Farrand".[49] It plans to continue Reef Point's original educational mission as well as to preserve Garland Farm and Beatrix Farrand's final garden.[50][51]

Further reading

  • Patrick Chassé (Maine Olmsted Alliance), The Last Garden of Beatrix Farrand
  • Balmori, Diana; et al. (1985). Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes: Her Gardens and Campuses. Sagaponack, New York: Sagapress. ISBN 0-89831-003-2. LCCN 85001969.
  • Brown, Jane (February 1, 1995). Beatrix: The Gardening Life of Beatrix Farrand, 1872–1959. Viking, Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-670-83217-0. LCCN 94001271.


  1. ^ a b c "Beatrix Farrand". Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Lamb, Jane (2004). The grand masters of Maine gardening: and some of their disciples. Camden, ME: Down East Books. p. 30. ISBN 978-0892726370. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  3. ^ Information, Plant. "Research Guides: The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at NYBG: The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden". Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Parke, Margaret. "A portrait of Beatrix Farrand", American Horticulturist, April 1985, pp. 10–13.
  5. ^ a b c d McGuire, Diane Kostial; Fern, Lois (1982). Beatrix Jones Farrand (1872–1959) : fifty years of American landscape architecture : [Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium on the History of Landscape Architecture. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University. ISBN 0884021068. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Tankard, Judith B. (2009). Beatrix Farrand : private gardens, public landscapes (1st ed.). New York: Monacelli Press. ISBN 978-1-58093-227-1. From Introduction: "Beatrix Farrand (1872–1959) was one of America's most celebrated landscape architects. She was renowned for the private estate gardens she designed for the cream of East Coast society as well as for her work as a landscape consultant at some of the country's most prestigious private universities and colleges... Variously praised as 'the Gertrude Jekyll of America' and 'the doyenne of her profession,' Farrand owed her success to her unerring eye for design, profound knowledge of horticulture, phenomenal energy, and deep commitment to her profession that inspired others to follow in her footsteps."
  7. ^ Keith, Charles Penrose (1883). The provincial councillors of Pennsylvania, who held office between 1733–1776: and those earlier councillors who were some time chief magistrates of the province, and their descendants. W.S. Sharp Printing Company. p. 260. ISBN 9780788417658.
  8. ^ Stevens, Eugene R. (1914). Erasmus Stevens and his descendants. revised by Colonel William Plumb Bacon. Tobias A. Wright. p. 45.
  9. ^ Edith Wharton was the author among other books, of Italian Villas and Their Gardens.
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  20. ^ "Bellefield". National Park Service. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Finding Aid to Lawrence Grant White Architectural Plans and Drawings". Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Archived from the original on April 13, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
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  23. ^ "Wilson (Woodrow), Washington, D.C". Calisphere. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  24. ^ Lewis, Anna M. (2014). Women of steel and stone : 22 inspirational architects, engineers, and landscape designers (First ed.). Independent Pub Group. pp. 171–172. ISBN 978-1613745083.
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  32. ^ Correal, Annie (September 23, 2014). "New York Today: The Women Who Built the City". The New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  33. ^ "Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation Hosts Leadership Awards Gala, Kicks off Built By Women Exhibition". Architectural Record. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
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  35. ^ Bernstein, Mark F. (June 11, 2008). "Growing the campus How Princeton preserves its 'lazy beauty'". Princeton Authors. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
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  49. ^ "Donate". Beatrix Farrand Society. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
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