May 2014 Issue
Famed landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman’s
garden ideas are as relevant now as they were in the days of the
great American Country Place estates. Even better, her overarching strategies can
be applied to nearly any backyard space.
Shipman believed a garden that is not secluded is just cultivated space
Not everyone wants or can afford a walled, secret garden, but an outdoor space takes on an aura of mystery when its partly or fully enclosed by vine-covered walls, a stand of evergreens or an attractive fence.
Shipman also did not care for singular, exotic or odd plants.
She felt their presence distracted from a cohesive image of a garden. Today’s gardener can certainly have fun growing an elephant ear plant, but placement is important.
Focal points are important in Shipman gardens.
Large birdhouses, gazebos, bridges, reflecting pools, dovecotes and statuary complement plants and add interest.
Shipman used native plants.
She found that they eased the transition from her formal garden areas to a more natural wild garden that sometimes surrounded her designs.