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Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes

Lynden B. Miller explores the life and work of America's first female landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand.

A printer-friendly version of this page 62 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Stephen Ives
Produced by Lauren DeFilippo, Karen Smythe, Anne Cleves Symmes
Editor: Kent Bassett
Cinematography: Buddy Squires
Sound Recording: John Zecca
Original Music: Peter Rundquist
Narrator: Lynden B. Miller
An Insignia Films Production

"Not until I saw [this film] did I feel like I had just been given a gift that I waited decades for." Katya Crawford, Chair, Landscape Architecture, Univ. of New Mexico
[Note: Community screenings of BEATRIX FARRAND'S AMERICAN LANDSCAPES can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

BEATRIX FARRAND'S AMERICAN LANDSCAPES follows award-winning public garden designer Lynden B. Miller as she sets off to explore the remarkable life and career of America's first female landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand. Farrand was responsible for some of the most celebrated gardens in the United States and helped create a distinctive American voice in landscape architecture.

Although she created gardens for the rich and powerful, including John D. Rockefeller, Jr., J.P. Morgan, and President Woodrow Wilson, she also was an early advocate for the value of public gardens and believed strongly in the power of the natural world to make people's lives better.

Through the documentary, Miller journeys to iconic Farrand gardens, engaging designers, scholars and horticulturists in a spirited dialogue about the meaning and importance of this ground-breaking early 20th-century woman. Lynden Miller's experience as New York City's most prominent public garden designer is woven into a wide-ranging biography of Farrand's life and times.

Grade Level: 7 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2020     Copyright Date: 2019
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-45-3

"Insightful and thoroughly enjoyable...Lynden B. Miller, designer of the Conservatory Gardens in Central Park and so many other notable projects, is able to bring Beatrix Farrand's legacy into a contemporary context, revealing that the principles for which her hero stood are as relevant today as they were a century ago. This film is a must view for students of landscape architecture, horticulture, and women's studies. These two giants of landscape design drew on a rare combination of talent and resilience to succeed despite the many challenges they encountered."
Donald A. Rakow, Associate Professor of Horticulture, Cornell University

"Not until I saw Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes did I feel like I had just been given a gift that I waited decades for. The film is as rich and elegant as Farrand's landscapes. It does her life and work justice, and is a must see for anyone interested in landscape architecture, garden design or women's history."
Katya Crawford, Chair and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of New Mexico

"A work of art chronicling the intersection between garden history and now. We're talking a deftly researched script tracing Farrand's evolution from her New York City socialite roots to her courageous horticultural education shadowing Arnold Arboretum's first director, Charles Sprague Sargent, at a time when women were emphatically not admitted into the field."
Tovah Martin, New England Home

"Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted dismissed her as a 'dabbler.' No university would accept her. Her own friends thought her professional ambition was 'a sort of mild mania.' Yet Beatrix Farrand, who lived from 1872 to 1959, persisted. And she became the first female landscape architect, leaving her mark in gardens, parks, and other public landscapes across the country."
Becky Pritchard, Mount Desert Islander

"Lynden Miller's ability as a natural educator and her lifelong career as an award-winning public space designer made her the perfect guide to host the film viewer's journey through some of Farrand's gardens. The juxtaposition of sharing her own process of redesign and restoration of some of the parks and gardens that many of us enjoy today, inspired by Farrand's insight, marries a modern viewpoint to the historic focus of a bygone era."
Madaline Sparks, Rural Intelligence

"This educational resource makes smart use of archival material that is brought to life not only by the storyline but also by footage showing some of Farrand's most notable garden and landscape creations...Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes makes a small part of the garden world more accessible to a broad audience."
Sonja Dümpelmann, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, Co-editor, Women, Modernity, and Landscape Architecture

"The superbly made documentary matches its heroine's sense for perfection in all details: aesthetic refinedness and technical prowess do wonders in bringing to life Farrand's whole age, while showing her visionary landscapes. The smart intermixing of original photos and 19th-century reels of New York City make for a fascinating story from beginning to end."
Vanessa Sellers, New York Botanical Garden Plant Talk

"While discussing the unpredictability of plants season after season, Miller asserts, 'gardens are the slowest moving performance art.' The components of performance art unfold around her: the large stones marking the beginning of paths unveil the gardens like a red curtain, the flowers at Miller's feet debuting in a larger choir of blooming plants, the varying moss and grasses crunching under steps like applause. Miller introduces each piece like a ringmaster, indulging in their beauty and revealing their origins until the camera pans over the landscape from above like a grand finale...The film really resonated with me and I think other students would benefit from such a thoughtful dedication to two accomplished women."
Jasmine Hanna, Student of Landscape Studies, Smith College

"An invaluable depiction of the life and work of Beatrix Farrand with a compelling narration by Lynden B. Miller, whose career in public gardens Farrand inspired. With her prescient use of native plants and incorporation of the woodland as a dynamic counterpoint to formal garden design, Farrand's work is positioned as uniquely American. Renowned for her seminal work at Dumbarton Oaks, the film illuminates the full scope of her contributions to early twentieth century landscape design, while overcoming seemingly insurmountable contemporaneous barriers to women."
Georgia Harrison Hall, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Georgia

"This film reveals Beatrix Farrand's determination and fortitude to prevail in her desired male-dominated profession. A rare spirit indeed. I recommend this film for garden clubs across America, as well as any local community interested in creating or revitalizing a green space to its former glory. I can see this being shown in historic preservation programs that teach about landscape preservation, as well as in Landscape Architecture programs. This film will provide insight regarding the early impact of females in the profession of landscape architecture, and give confidence to the young women entering the landscape architecture profession today."
Cari Goetcheus, Professor of Environment and Design, University of Georgia

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... more Reviews

"Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes takes viewers back to the early days of American landscape architecture, when the profession was a man's world. By interweaving biographical glimpses of what narrator Lynden B. Miller refers to as a 'long, exciting, and complicated life' with deep insights into early influences and remarkable footage of her famous works, the film pays an overdue homage to Beatrix Farrand, a pioneer woman garden designer."
Judith Stilgenbauer, ASLA , Professor and Director, Master of Landscape Architecture, University of Hawaii at Manoa

"Beautifully crafted...Engaging...This wondrous program holds wide appeal for garden enthusiasts, armchair travelers, and students of women's history."
Sue-Ellen Beauregard, Booklist

"This film, with its compelling biographical subject and wonderful storytelling, would be of interest to anyone attracted to the history of garden design, horticulture, or landscape architecture in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes is a highly recommended addition to any public or academic library collection."
James E. Sobczak, University of Miami, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Essential viewing for anyone interested in American garden history and garden making...I garden for those rare moments that combine beauty, curiosity and awareness with a random and unpredictable, explosive calming, that may last for only a few moments but will sidetrack every distraction around me. These designs are inspired, the horticulture is terrific, but most important, the gardens exist because Beatrix Farrand and Lynden Miller ignored everyone who said they were wasting their time."
Allen Bush, Garden Rant

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