Main content

Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes

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.

'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 Dumpelmann, 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


Main credits

Ives, Stephen (film director)
Ives, Stephen (screenwriter)
DeFilippo, Lauren (film producer)
Smythe, Karen (film producer)
Symmes, Anne Cleves (film producer)
Miller, Lynden B. (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Editor, Kent Bassett; cinematography, Buddy Squires; original music, Peter Rundquist.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Landscape Architecture
Social Psychology
Urban Studies
Urban and Regional Planning
Women's Studies


Lynden B Miller, landscape architect, John D Rockefeller, J P Morgan, Woodrow Wilson, public gardens, Beatrix Cadwalader Jones, keeping up with the Joneses, Max Farrand, Charles Sprague Sargent, Frederick Law Olmsted, Harkness Memorial State Park, Acadia National Park, Princeton University, Bellefield, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, New York Botanical Garden Conservatory Garden, Central Park, Edith Wharton, William James, Frederic Rhinelander Jones, Columbia School of Mines, William Ware, William Robinson, Gravetye Manor, Gertrude Jekyll, Munstead Wood, ingenious engineering, garden structures, planting plans, native ecology, biophilia, Dumbarton Oaks, Huntington Library, Eyrie Garden, National Cathedral, Bellefield, Hyde Park NY, Morgan Library, Casa Dorinda, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, American Society of Landscape Architects, Occidental College, California Institute of Technology, Mount Desert Island, Seal Harbor, Acadia National Park, carriage roads, Yale University, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, Reef Point, Garland Farm, public gardens, Bryant Square, Sir Peter Crane, Green Teens, Carolyn Cole, Paula Deitz, Patrick Chasse, Mariet Westermann, Dianne Harris, Phoebe Milliken; "Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes"; Bullfrog Films,doc,art,env; history