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Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Victorian Garden Then and Now

  • 10/15/2019
  • 10:30 AM
  • Pound Ridge, NY


A presentation by landscape artist and historic horticulturalist, Ellen McClelland Lesser who is a Horticultural Historian and Landscape Architect specializing in 19th century American gardens and floral designs. She is the co-author of a number of historic landscape reports and garden studies and the author of There Were Always Flowers: A study of cut flowers and potted plants at Olana, a floral furnishing plan for the home of the 19th century painter, Frederic Edwin Church in Hudson, NY. In addition to the restoration of museum gardens, she is involved in the design and construction of a number of private gardens. For six years she was the Gardening Editor for Victorian Homes magazine and wrote the "In and Out of the Victorian Garden" column. A chapter entitled "Period Flower Arrangements: An interview with Ellen McClelland Lesser appears in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's 21st-Century Gardening Series handbook, Old-Fashioned Flowers, published Spring 2000. For much of the 20th century, gardens of the Victorian period were viewed as nothing more than an inexplicable lapse in good taste. It seemed to be a period of anarchy in the garden falling between the chaste herb knots of the 18th century and the soft-colored perennial borders of the 20th century. Actually, the 19th century was an exciting time to garden. Plants collected around the world were being introduced into American gardens. Also, varieties of familiar plants, improved through newly perfected hybridization practices, found a place in the garden. By the end of the century, a distinct palette of plant material had evolved. The forces of change have been at work during the 20th century, as well. Today, many plants are distinctly different from their 19th century ancestors. Along with changes in the appearance of the plants, throughout the decades there have been changes in taste and gardening style. This slide lecture will illustrate how the plants have changed over time and the role of the flower garden in the larger landscape.

Location: Pound Ridge Library in the Schaffner Room 271 Westchester Avenue Pound Ridge, NY
Phone: (914) 764-5085

The Pound Ridge Garden Club is a community service and educational organization, founded in 1941. For information about the Pound Ridge Garden Club & its activities, please contact Membership Chair: Annie Thom at (203) 658-8004 or email her at, or visit our web site at

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