Monday, May 12, 2014

Seeing the Garden Through Elizabeth's Eyes

This past Saturday afternoon, I tackled a project with April Ryan (see my 12/11/12 post).  For a garden curator of an historic property, it's important to see the garden as much as possible through the eyes of its original creator.  In order to do that, the original design must be restored where time, plants, or new ownership has changed it - purposefully or not.

I spend a lot of time studying photographs of the garden structure.  There is always something new to discover in Miss Lawrence's garden, even in a literal snapshot.  Relatively speaking, we have very few photos of the garden during Miss Lawrence's tenure.  (If you have, or someone you know has, any photographs of the garden, I would very much love to have a copy - for reference more than anything else.  Contact me!)  The photos we do have offer up a bit of pixelated revelation.  Take, for example, this series of photos of the front of Miss Lawrence's house:
This photo was taken in the early 1980s - probably 1984, the year Elizabeth sold her house and moved to Maryland.
Notice the gentle curve of the front right bed line.
Wing Haven owned the property when this photo was taken in October 2009.  Again, that front right bed line has its gentle curve.  Very much worth mentioning here is that Elizabeth Lawrence Garden savior and gardening goddess, Lindie Wilson lived and gardened here for the previous 23 years... saving all elements of Elizabeth's original design.  Thank you, Lindie!!!
Now here's that same area in April 2010:
So there obviously was a design change made, probably to maximize planting area.  While it's certainly not offensive, it is not true to Elizabeth's original design.  And frankly, that just makes my teeth itch.

So, as I said earlier, I tackled a project:
I have been surprised by how much better this area looks and feels.  It just feels right now... as it should be.  And thankfully, my teeth have stopped itching.

Yours in Dirt,
Andrea Sprott

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Signs of Spring

Crocus tommasinianus makes sweet music with Adonis amurensis.

"The coming of spring is like the coming of a person you love,  you always think it will be the same and it is always different."

"After you grow up some things get less exciting, but the signs of spring never do."

- Elizabeth Lawrence
(from letters to Ann Preston Bridgers published in Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence by Emily Herring Wilson) 

It's hard to believe that only one week ago, we were in the clutches of a snow storm here in Charlotte, NC.  Today, I've opened all the windows in Miss Lawrence's House, and the sweet songs of birds have replaced the dull droning of the heating system.  Out in Elizabeth Lawrence's Garden it's 75℉, daffodils are popping up all over, Trillium underwoodii and T. decumbens are yawning out of winter's slumber, the intoxicatingly fragrant Prunus mume "Elizabeth Lawrence" is just spectacular, Galanthus are still nodding their delicate pristine heads, and the little tommies (pictured above) are smiling at me from nearly every planting bed.  It's a most magical time in the garden... so many botanical treasures are just waiting to delight visitors with their sweet flowers and precious fragrances.  Come see (and smell) them all!  

the Love, History and Science of a Garden

Miss Lawrence's studio, overlooking her garden.

I hope you will all help spread the word about this opportunity for Wing Haven - our latest "power2give" project, "the Love, History and Science of a Garden"

We are in need of funding for archive materials to properly preserve and house all of the fantastic items we're so fortunate to have in Miss Lawrence's house. These items include: original manuscripts, articles and correspondence - and her database of tens of thousands of hand-written index cards. 

Click here to read more about the project and to find out how you can help preserve the learning legacy of Elizabeth Lawrence!

UPDATE MAY 12, 2014:   ***Thank you to all who so generously helped us reach our goal!  We will be tackling our archiving project this summer.  Again, thank you for your support!***