Some of America's most iconic gardens have been nearly lost due to neglect, creeping development, and lack of funds to maintain them. But many have been saved by dedicated local preservationists, The Garden Conservancy, The Garden Club of America, and many others. Now, in Rescuing Eden: Preserving America's Historic Gardens (Monacelli Press, 2015) design writer and biographer Caroline Seebohm tells the story of more than 30 gardens from Maine to California that have been brought back from the brink of extinction.
From grand estates to small suburban gardens, the properties were selected, says Seebohm, "for the dramatic value of their original creation and rescue and their historical and horticultural importance."
It's amazing that the country almost lost the last garden of Beatrix Farrand, a founder of the American Society of Landscape Architects and renowned for her creations at Dumbarton Oaks, Princeton, Yale, the University of Chicago, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine. After her husband's death, Farrand retired to a small cottage -- Garland Farm -- near Bar Harbor and there installed her last garden. Thanks to landscape architect Patrick Chassé, the Beatrix Farrand Society and local master gardeners, Garland Farm -- what Seebohm calls "her final and most personal garden," has now been restored and preserved for generations to come.
In Lynchburg, Virginia, the Hillside Garden Club and the Garden Conservancy joined hands to bring back the garden of poet and civil rights activist Anne Spencer.
And if you've never been to Innisfree in Millbrook, New York, you need to plan a visit to see the Asian-inspired masterpiece by landscape architect Lester Collins. Created over decades for art collectors Walter and Marion Beck, the couple established a foundation to care for the property, and it opened to the public in 1960.
With beautiful photographs by Curtice Taylor, the book is not only an inspiration -- it's a celebration of all those organizations and volunteers who have dedicated themselves to the preservation of an important part of the county's heritage.