Located on 4.9 acres of land at Salisbury Cove on the north shoulder of Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbor, Garland Farm is where the celebrated landscape architect Beatrix Jones Farrand spent her last years in 1955–1959. The farm features Farrand’s exquisitely landscaped personal gardens that reflect her exhaustive knowledge of horticulture and genius for landscape design.
Born Beatrix Cadwalader Jones in New York in 1872, Farrand’s early interest in horticulture and gardens derived from her aunt, the famed author Edith Wharton, whose chateau gardens overlooked the Mediterranean in Hyeres, France. Farrand’s formal education in horticulture and landscape design came from Charles Sprague Sargent, the Harvard botanist and director of Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, whom she studied under for four years. At Sargent’s urging, Farrand traveled extensively in Europe, exploring parks and gardens in England, Holland, Italy, and France. In France, she was particularly influenced by the Baroque gardens designed by Louis XIV’s gardener Andre Le Notre at Versailles, Fontainebleau, and the Tuileries. In 1895 Farrand established her soon-to-be prolific landscaping practice at her mother’s New York residence and in 1899 became a founding member of the American Society for Landscape Architecture. She kept offices in both New York and Maine. Farrand laid out the gardens at her family’s own summer estate, Reef Point, not far from the Rockefeller’s “camp” at Bar Harbor, which her mother deeded to her in 1917. After marrying Yale historian Max Farrand in 1913, the couple summered at Reef Point.
In her later years, Farrand devoted her life to creating a landscape research center at her beloved Reef Point estate. Unfortunately, her efforts were unsuccessful and in 1955, when she was in her 80s, Farrand entrusted much of her library, landscape drawings, and herbarium collection to the University of California at Berkeley. Reef Point was demolished and salvaged materials were utilized for gardens and an addition to the small farmhouse of Reef Point’s long-time superintendent, Lewis Garland, and his wife Amy, Reef Point’s chief horticulturalist. The Garlands had acquired the Cape-style farmhouse in the 1870s; the building dates to circa 1800 but was rebuilt in the 1850s. Upon her decision to retire to the Garland farm, Farrand hired Maine architect Robert Patterson to design an ell and apartment wing addition, sandwiched between the Garlands’ farmhouse and barn, using building materials salvaged from Reef Point. The Garlands, Farrand, and Farrand’s companion and caretaker, Clementine Walter, shared the space of the farm.
Using some plants and materials salvaged from Reef Point, such as forsythia, hawthorn, crab apple, stewartia, laburnum, shrub rose and other shrubs, in addition to trees and plants native to the farm, Farrand surrounded the Garland Farm complex with an exquisitely arranged panoply of small gardens. Farrand also rescued from Reef Point a rustic granite bench, millstones, a section of picket fence, and part of a curved wooden fence to enclose the “Main Garden” that sat intimately within purview of her second-floor study, now called the Farrand Wing.
The Main Garden is symmetrical in form with strong axial features and rectilinear parterres, with each planting bed separated from the other by gravel paths. The two main beds contained mostly heaths and heather interplanted with lavender; she planted the outer beds with a mixture of perennials and annuals. Just south of the wooden fence surrounding the Main Garden she planted three Japanese cherry trees. North of the Farrand Wing she designed gardens to the east and west of a footpath lined with box hedges that leads to the large front door (also salvaged from Reef Point). The western plot is styled as an Asian garden (perhaps inspired by her work on magnificent Asian garden she designed at the nearby Abby Rockefeller Garden). At its center sat a giant cypress tree surrounded by plants from Asia and others native to Maine. A curvilinear pathway leads to a Chinese stoneware water basin and a bench built of granite slabs. The adjoining eastern plot has rhododendrons that hug the base of a Sargent cherry tree.
After Farrand’s death in 1959, the Garlands continued to live on the property until Amy moved in 1970. The farm had several owners until January 2004, when the property was purchased by the Beatrix Farrand Society, which endeavored to successfully restore the Garland Farm in celebration of one of America’s most accomplished landscape architects. The Beatrix Farrand Society owns and operates Garland Farm as a museum that is open seasonally.
Classe, Patrick. “The Last Garden of Beatrix Farrand.” Maine Olmsted Alliance for Parks and Landscape Journal (Spring 2003): 1, 3-6.
Mitchell, Christi, and Patrick Classe, “Garland Farm,” Hancock County, Maine. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 2005. National Park Service, the Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
Raver, Anne. “Beatrix Jones Farrand’s Secret Garden.” New York Times, November 27, 2003.
Tankard, Judith B. Beatrix Farrand: Private Gardens, Public Landscapes. New York: Monacelli Press/ Random House, 2009.