Beatrix Farrand – designer extraordinaire

Have you been to a garden or landscape designed by Beatrix Farrand? If you’ve walked the campus of Yale or wandered the grounds of Harkness Park or Hill-Stead Museum you know she was a landscape and garden designer extraordinaire.

In December 2014, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame released a tribute video to Beatrix Farrand, who lived from 1872 to 1959. Farrand was one of the first women to practice landscape architecture and she left us with beautiful spaces to enjoy.


Her designs are timeless and deserve to be protected, tended and enjoyed. Farrand’s reach certainly extended outside Connecticut, as you’ll find when visiting The Beatrix Farrand Society website. But some of her wonderful work can easily be enjoyed during day trips in CT.

As noted in The Connecticut Gardens of Beatrix Farrand in Connecticut Magazine, Farrand preferred to be described as a landscape gardener.

“A garden, large or small, must be treated in the Impressionist manner,” she once wrote. “Plants are to the gardener what his palette is to the painter.”

That’s a garden design concept that speaks to me, and one we can all follow to help us paint our gardens with plants.


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Fern sex

Ferns are amazing plants in their beauty alone. They’re even more amazing when you begin to understand how ferns propagate. They have no flowers to entice pollinating insects so … how does a fern have sex?

fern fronts as they open in spring

fern fronds as they open in spring

Gardeners who know and love ferns realize that spores – the brown structures that arise on the undersides of mature fern fronds – are a fern’s reproductive cells. Once mature, these cells leave their parent fern to venture out and multiply. What’s fascinating is how the spores leave the parent plant.

As described in a December 31, 2014 article in the Wonderful Things series in Scientific American, ferns use a technique called cavitation catapult to disperse spores.

The article provides drawings and a video diagram explaining how this process works. But here’s the best part for plant geeks … a video showing actual fern spores being launched by the cavitation catapult process.

This kind of stuff happens in gardens all the time, right under our noses as we merrily tend our plants. Gardening is not only one of the best ways to connect with nature, it’s a constant learning experience for those with curious minds and … it’s sexy.
But don’t just watch the video … follow the article link to better understand the whole process. Aren’t we all lucky to have scientists who take the time to question and learn about fern sex, and science writers such as Jennifer Frazer to explain it in a way average Jane and Joe gardeners can easily understand?
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Winter beauty

Rather than succumb to winter negativity, which is about all one hears on news and sees on social media, choose to step outside, breath in the crisp winter air, and enjoy some winter beauty.

Blue skies, different hues of beech leaves, the texture of bark, and deep shadows on fresh snow join to create stunning winter scenes.

Winter color.

Winter color.

Shadows on the snow.



One place woodpeckers roam when not vying for space on the suet feeders.

Woodpeckers were here

Woodpeckers were here

What’s missing from the snow? Animal tracks. Usually, following a fresh snow, the woods and open areas are crossed with animal tracks. But the snow is deep this year, keeping all but the lightest of squirrels from venturing far, and holding deer deep in the woods where groves of mountain laurel offer some fodder and protection from the elements.

winter woods absent of deer tracks

winter woods absent of deer tracks

There’s no doubt that winter can be difficult. It takes a lot of work to keep driveways and sidewalks clear, and snow-clearing tasks can definitely become tedious.

Winter exercise tools

Winter exercise tools

But it’s winter … and I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl.

In winter, a shovel and snow shoes are my exercise tools, and snow is the blanket that protects my gardens.

I know, that as temperatures warm come spring, and snow slowly melts into the earth, plants will awaken from their winter sleep.

Now, is the time to enjoy winter beauty.



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