Tim Richardson

The Garden Over the Pond

A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era

By

University of Massachusetts Press 428pp £46.95 order from our bookshop

‘Encourage the creepers.’ This was the American garden designer Charles Platt’s advice on low-maintenance lawncare to his client William Gwinn Mather, president of the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, in 1933, at the height of the Depression, when even plutocrats felt the need to tighten their belts. Or adjust their braces, or whatever it is that plutocrats do. ‘Encourage the creepers,’ he wrote, ‘especially the nearly evergreens, such as the Speedwells or Veronicas, Bugle, Creeping Dandelion, English Daisy … all of which can be walked on comfortably … Then keep a limited area near the terrace in perfect grass.’ In the event the lawn at Mather’s house – Gwinn, near Cleveland – was saved and his library sold. Evidently, denuded bookshelves were preferable to a dandelion-filled lawn.

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