Preparations are underway to mark 90 years since the revered American landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand, worked at Dartington Hall.

The celebrated garden designer, Dan Pearson, who has created a master plan for the site and won the Beatrix Farrand Society award last year, will be the keynote speaker at the two-day event in May.

A successful landscape architect in the 1920s and 30s, Farrand’s only English garden design was for Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst at their Dartington Estate, where she worked between 1934 to 1939.

She was one of the first consultants to formulate and design a plan for the gardens and 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 part of her design work and she also gave advice on other Dartington sites, as well as Dorthy Elmhirst’s property, Apple Green, on Long Island, New York.

A true pioneer, Farrand entered the male-dominated profession at a time when women were excluded from working on public projects. 

She studied botany and land planning, then went to the Columbia University’s School of Mines to better understand surveying and engineering, before eventually going on to design gardens for the White House, Dumbarton Oaks and Yale University. 

She was the first woman to be inducted in the previously all-male American Society of Landscape Architects. 

Touches of her work can be seen all around the Grade II listed gardens at Dartington such as the courtyard cobbles, woodland walk, playhouse borders and many of the native plantings.

The Beatrix Farrand celebrations will take place at Dartington Great Hall and gardens on Tuesday and Wednesday 16 and 17 May and include a garden tour, cream tea with Dan and a Beatrix Farrand film at the Barn Cinema.

The main event will be a dinner in the Great Hall on the Tuesday, when Dan will give a talk. Guests will also receive specially commissioned book on Farrand’s involvement in the estate.

A Dartington Trust spokesperson said: “Dan has very generously offered to speak at our celebration dinner event

“His master plan for Dartington covers the whole estate, but he particularly loves the listed gardens – and his proposals focus on refreshing the original designs, replacing elderly trees and restoring many of the views. Hence his very kind offer to come to Dartington for two nights with the aim of raising money for the Grade II Listed Gardens.”

The trust is raising money for preserving and enhancing the work originally carried out by Farrand including restoring the playhouse’s thatched roof, the Higher Meadow link path and the Valley Field meadow project.

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