Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959), and her designs for the marsh botanic garden, New Haven, Connecticut: a model for the conservation of wild plants in the built environment.
In America, in the 1890s, garden designers became interested in the gardens of the Italian Renaissance and it was proposed that the Italian garden could be adapted to create a new type of American garden. This was opposed by ecologists who argued that a naturalistic approach to garden design was more appropriate. At that time landscape design and ecological conservation were seen as mutually exclusive, but in a career spanning five decades the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand demonstrated that the two subjects could be combined to good effect. Inspired by Charles A Platt's book, Italian Gardens, published in 1894, she visited Italy in 1895 and afterwards created formal gardens in America in an Italianate style. She was aware that the native flora of America was under threat from industrial development and she made a valuable contribution to plant conservation by mixing native plants selected according to the soil and climate with non-native, exotic plants to create ecologically based planting schemes within her formal gardens. She took this a stage further in 1924, with her designs for the Marsh Botanic Garden at Yale University, where she proposed that a collection of native American plants should be planted within a layout reproducing the geometric plan of the botanic garden at Padua, the oldest botanical garden in Europe. Here she demonstrated that architectural design and wild plants could coexist, and in this paper it is suggested that her design for the Marsh Botanic Garden might now serve as a model for the conservation of plants in the built environment.