So Fine a Prospect: Historic New England Gardens by Alan Emmet

By Alan Emmet

Oh, the relaxation, the satisfaction i've got had in my backyard, an octogenarian grande dame of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recollects in an 1888 memoir. Alan Emmet s glimpse into greater than dozen gardens that graced New England s cities and nation-state from simply after the yank Revolution into the 20 th century has delights of its personal. Drawing from diaries, correspondence, ancient files, cartoon maps, and work, Emmet treats the garden--ranging from small city retreats to decorative estates of hundreds of thousands of acres--as an artwork shape and examines its evolution shape the utilitarian to the ornate. besides the useful--greenhouses, peach partitions, and pergolas--are discovered the whimsical and the idiosyncratic. She describes teahouses, topiary bushes, fountains, mazes, marble nymphs, and a three-story viewing tower. And ever-present, in fact, are the vegetation themselves: roses, lilies, tree peonies, orchids, even southern magnolias, in addition to towering elms, colossal lindens, peaches, pears, and boxwood.
But as Emmet delves extra deeply into who outfitted those gardens and why, one other tale unfolds. The gardens, it sort of feels, parallel their proprietors lives, and embedded intheir background is the saga of households and their emerging and falling tides. We see nice homes inhabited by way of light ghosts, the increase and next decay of the port cities, the emergence of a mercantile classification, the metamorphosis of the towns into sprawling city facilities, and the institution of associations just like the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. rigorously chronicled, unique, and generously illustrated, Emmet s backyard travel is especially a lot worthy taking."

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Extra resources for So Fine a Prospect: Historic New England Gardens

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There is no way of knowing which plan Derby preferred, but he may have deemed the third too radical. Certainly the garden at Derby's farm in nearby Danvers, Massachusetts, was entirely traditional, according to William Bentley's 1790 account of it. Bentley described a fenced, three-tiered garden with white-painted wooden keystone arches over each set of steps. The Vale, the country estate of the Yorkshire-born Boston merchant Theodore Lyman (17531836), was one of the first New England gardens to be laid out in the English landscape style.

Greg McPherson, "Shedding the Illusion of Abundance," Landscape Architecture 79 (April 1989): 128. 2. Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Idea in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), 8485. 3. , 1045. 4. Ann Leighton, Early American Gardens (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970), 6. 5. : Yale University Press, 1978), 67. 6. F. R. Cowell, The Garden as a Fine Art: From Antiquity to Modern Times (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978), 8. 7. Abram English Brown, Faneuil Hall and Fanueil Hall Market (Boston: Lee & Shepard, 1900), 28.

21. Elias Boudinot, Journey to Boston in 1809, ed. Milton Halsey Thomas (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1955), 4243. 22. John Codman to Catherine Amory Codman, 20 July 1800, box 118, Codman Family Manuscripts Collection, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. 23. , 18 July 1800. Upon their return to the United States in 1804, the Gores began transforming the landscape of their own estate in Waltham, Mass. The grounds and mansion are open to the public at Gore Place, as they are at the Codman estate.

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