Beatrix Farrand

Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959) was a remarkable garden designer and consultant who was connected with Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst from 1927.

One of the estate workers laying the paving stones in the courtyard to Farrand’s design Photo: George Bennett, ©The Dartington Hall Trust Archive
One of the estate workers laying the paving stones in the courtyard to Farrand’s design
Photo: George Bennett, ©The Dartington Hall Trust Archive

The American’s work for Dartington covered the years from 1934 to 1939, when she was one of the first consultants to formulate and design a plan for the Gardens. Her concept was to connect one part of the gardens with another, resulting in the creation of paths and several flights of steps.

She used native plants to full advantage for backdrops, and introduced additional ornamental shrubs and climbers. The distinctive courtyard paving was a part of her design work.  She also gave advice on other Dartington sites, as well as Dorothy Elmhirst’s property Apple Green, on Long Island, New York.

Farrand trained at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and in 1899 was founder member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.  Her commission for Dartington is a rare example of her work outside the United States.

When her work at Dartington had been completed, Farrand wrote to the Elmhirsts:

“I shall never cease to remember with deep feeling the happy weeks with you both, the complexity and excitement of the problem, the sense of overwhelming beauty and respect for it in its varied manifestations, and your courageous attack on a great situation. […] I shall be glad if you both feel the visit has helped to allow Dartington to speak for itself, with its simple nobility of line and long human association.”

Writing in 1959, Dorothy Elmhirst said of Farrand:

“It was in February 1933 that Beatrix Farrand came to us in response to an urgent request on our part for help in bringing some sense of order out of the chaos of our general garden schemes.  […] we felt that in the process of restoring the old buildings we must, at the same time, plan the grounds and gardens in complete harmony with the fine old hall and courtyard.”

Dartington would like to thank Kate Caddy for helping compile these biographies.


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