With winter is full effect and with the lack of color and foliage outside, has me craving blooms of any kind. I wanted to share some of my favorite books on beautiful flowers and the way artisans use them to great effect in astonishing gardens and creative arrangements.
In American Gardens 1890-1930, published by Acanthus Press and edited by Sam Watters, some of the most spectacular gardens in in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest are in full bloom every time you turn the page.
The book follows the work of many of the vanguard landscape architects at a time when garden design had become a viable profession. In the period after the Civil War, great wealth in these regions allowed the artists the opportunity to dream up and create the lavish gardens of the new bourgeoisie and their storied, private estates.
Take a private tour of some of the most magnificent gardens of the late 19th/early 20th century.
1 Welcome to the exclusive and gorgeous world of American private garden estates at the turn of the century.
2 This is the "Sand Garden" in Sea Bright, New Jersey, designed by Nathan Franklin Barrett. Just look at the architectural genius that had to have gone into that pattern!
3 This is the "Swimming Pool Pavilion" in Mt. Kisco, New York designed by Delano & Aldrich and Charles Higgins. I can only imagine basking in the sun by this pool, surrounded by landscape perfection!
4 Designed by James L. Greenleaf, this is the magical "Fountain in the Rose Garden" in Sea Bright, New Jersey. How dreamy!
5 Settled in Lake Forest, Illinois, this is the pool at "Mill Road Farm." With this backyard, architect Louise Hubbard was able to make this lavish estate still feel quaint and welcoming.
6 Again in Lake Forest, IL, this view of the garden facade reveals the work of Innocenti & Webel for the Estate of Noble B. Judah. Just this sneak peek of this spread is enough to make my heart soar!
7 This is the garden wall of the "Black Point" estate in the beautiful Southampton, NY. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers, this private garden evokes visions of fairytales with singing birds and all.
8 Found in Lakewood, New Jersey, this is the garden view of the "Georgian Court" by Bruce Price. This space is surely set for royalty.
9 At the same estate, this gorgeous wellhead shows the skill and dedication that went into building these estates.
10 Look at this beautiful fountain basin designed by Augusta and Augustus Saint-Gaudens for themselves. Found in Cornish, New Hampshire, this little detail amongst a huge estate makes all the difference.
11 At "Castle Hill," designed by Arthur A. Shurtleff, this is the Grand Allee in Ipswich, Massachusetts. There is nothing short of grand in this jaw-dropping garden pathway!
12 At the same estate, the rose garden is simply enchanting.
13 Now in East Hampton, this estate swimming pool was created by Jacob John Spoon. The mythological statues and classic arches remind me of a Greco-Roman oasis.
14 This "Afternoon Garden" by Fletcher Steele in Stockbridge, Massachusetts leaves me speechless.
15 Also designed by Fletcher Steele, this swimming pool of unknown origin is bordered by beautifully detailed artistry.
16 This lovely garden walk and stone gates can be found in Hingham, Massachusetts. It was created by a female architect, Elizabeth Leonard Strang, which is astounding given the time period!
17 Designed by Vitale & Geiffert, these are photographs of the garden gate and stair to courtyard of the "Rosemary" estate in Islip, New York. What a charming and fitting name!
18 Designed by the same architects, this is the "Cedar Allee" of the "Cherrywood" estate in Locust Valley, New York. This simple fountain set within such a grand garden creates a perfectly elegant space.
19 Again in Southampton, this is the garden of "The Orchard Estate" designed by Stanford White. I can't imagine how much time and dedication goes into the upkeep of this brilliant garden.
20 Designed by the same architect, this Pergola in the "Box Hill" estate in St. James, New York is the definition of classic elegance.
Constance Spry, a famous British educator, florist and author always provides invaluable advice on arranging in a practical and unique way. In Winter & Spring Flowers (Studio Crowell), Spry reminds us that even in the heart of winter, there is still an array of beautiful flowers that are waiting to be arranged.
And to get you in the mood for spring, Spry shows us the light at the end of the tunnel by reminding us that spring and its signature cheerful blooms will be here before we know it.
I hope that you (like me) are inspired by these beautiful, vintage illustrations or her signature work. The inventive and unique color combinations are breathtaking.
1 The cover of "Winter & Spring Flowers" welcomes you into the signature world of Constance Spry, full of practical flower arranging advice and luscious illustrations of unique arrangements that are recognizably Spry.
2 Spry created this lovely platformed arrangement for a church wedding with white and yellow forsythia, lilac, tulips, hyacinths, narcissi and arums with a few sweeping trails of ivy. She explains how the arranged but not forced lines create a defined and dignified arrangement.
3 This unique arrangement proves that a mix of greenery can be stunning when you use different shapes, textures and tones.
4 This beautiful selection of Dutch hyacinths is showcased in a three-tiered vase. There is an unmistakably dreamy quality thanks to the refreshing Cynthella hyacinths.
5 This gorgeous illustration showcases an adorable arrangement of camellias centering a luncheon table. The colors are absolutely stunning.
6 Here, Spry has created a "tapestry of flowers" by arranging a mix of spring flowers in a lush bed of moss. The flat presentation and seemingly random collection of florals makes this arrangement one-of-a-kind.
7 These two arrangements show simple ways to display snowdrops. These flowers evoke feelings of childhood and spontaneity, perfect for Spring, which is when they thrive beautifully.
8 Here, colorful anemones are set inside a beautiful papier mache work-table. When this photograph was taken, the anemones were surprisingly a fortnight old and still blooming strong as ever.