According to Laurie Olin, Olmsted aficionado and landscape architect extraordinaire, there are a mere six degrees of separation between Frederick Law Olmsted and the most successful and important landscape architects. Perhaps he was thinking of the ingenious and late Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon (1920- 2014) who was inspired by the Olmsted firm early in life.
The Olmsted Brothers cultivated the grounds of her childhood home, Albemarle, in Princeton, NJ, even welcoming her to tag along during work. Their designs were an early inspiration for her life-long passion for gardens, landscapes, and the natural world. (Project No. 7630 can be researched through both Olmsted Online and the Olmsted Archives).
Thanks to Olmsted Online, one can see the plans, contemporaneous photos, and read the correspondence between her father and the Olmsted Brothers as the Lambert estate took shape including rose gardens, water features, and heavily planted ornamental beds.
Famous for her design of the rose garden for Jacquie Kennedy at the White House, Bunny’s fine eye and design skills continue to delight and inspire through her gardens at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, overseen by Sir Peter Crane. The Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of botany, horticulture, gardening, and landscape design and now more than ever, global environmental issues.
Given the Lambert/Mellon/Olmsted connections, it’s perhaps no surprise that Sir Peter and the Foundation last year decided to team up with the National Association for Olmsted Parks to curate an exquisite online and downloadable exhibit about Frederick Law Olmsted— just in time for the Olmsted bicentennial in 2022.
In a mere 23 panels (plus credits), Dr. Caroline Hickman of the University of Maryland has provided an excellent introduction to the many facets of Olmsted’s work! This month, Oak Spring Garden Foundation debuted the exhibit — displaying it outdoors with weather-resistant panels in handsome black stands, immediately outside the Foundation Gallery.
NAOP extends our special thanks to Sir Peter Crane, Oak Spring Garden Foundation, osgf.org, Upperville, VA; Curator Caroline Mesrobian Hickman, Ph.D., Lecturer, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland, College Park; Graphic Designer: Max Smith, Head of Communications, Oak Spring Garden Foundation; Exhibit Coordinator: Catherine Muckerman, Events Coordinator, Oak Spring Garden Foundation; Francis R. Kowsky, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, and Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians; Francie Muraski-Stotz, freelance writer and exhibit developer; and Magda Nakassis, freelance copy editor.
We also offer our thanks to the Institutions and Individuals providing images:
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, MA: Jill Trebbe, Caitlin Burke, Michele Clark
Central Park Conservancy, New York, NY: Mary Caraccioli
The Biltmore Company, Asheville, NC: Jill Hawkins, Hannah Parks, Ellen Rickman
Library of American Landscape History, Amherst, MA: Sarah Allaback
Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Buffalo, NY: Stephanie Crockatt, Zhi Ting Phua, James Mendola
Frederick Law Olmsted Society, Riverside, IL: Cathy Maloney
Prospect Park Alliance, Brooklyn, NY: Amy Peck
Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Boston, MA: Karen Mauney-Brodek, Veronika Trufanova, Declan Battles
Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Louisville, KY: Matt Spalding, Janelle Wilhelm
Architect of the Capitol, Washington, DC: Leslie Matthaei
Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, CA: Greg Cox
Municipal Archives, City of New York, New York, NY: Ken Cobb, Cynthia Brenwall
Highland Park Conservancy, Rochester, NY: Milli Piccione
Stanford University, Stanford, CA: Pamela Moreland
Historic New England, Boston, MA: Donna Russo
Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History, Brooklyn, NY: Sarah Quick
Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead, UK: Philip Eastwood, Colin Simpson
The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Washington, DC: Nord Wennerstrom
Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Upperville, VA: Tony Willis, Max Smith
WorldsFairChicago1893.com: Scott Cummings, Randall Hercey
Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY
Riverside Historical Museum, Riverside, IL: Constance Guardi
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Frederick Law Olmsted Papers; Prints & Photographs Division
Pressley Associates Landscape Architects, Newton Centre, MA: Marion Pressley.
Photographers: Andy Olenick, Zhi Ting Phua, Brandon Bartoszek, Chris Neumer (twentysevenandahalf.com), Şefik Akkurt, John Phelan, Joel Veak, Niagarafrontier.com.
*Eden by Design (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). Afterword by Laurie Olin, p. 288.