Beatrix Farrand planted this particular single-flowered peony at Reef Point. It was named in honor of Ellen Willmott, well-known English gardener and friend of William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll. PHOTO COURTESY OF BEATRIX FARRAND SOCIETY

Landscape lineages on display

BAR HARBOR — The Beatrix Farrand Society’s sixth annual Herbarium Exhibition, showcasing the printed vouchers from Farrand’s herbarium of plants that grew at her home, has a special focus on five other gardeners who influenced the pioneering landscape architect’s work.

The exhibition is open for viewing on Open Days at Garland Farm, 1-4 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 26, and on days when special events are held.

Edith Wharton planted this annual flower, China pinks, to provide long-season color in her perennial gardens. The robustness of this herbarium specimen suggests that it performed well at Reef Point, too. PHOTO COURTESY OF BEARTIX FARRAND SOCIETY

The 2019 Herbarium Exhibition celebrates the gardens of five people who mentored Farrand: George Dorr, Gertrude Jekyll, William Robinson, Charles Sprague Sargent and Edith Wharton. Their personal gardens reflected their ideas and philosophies, and contained plants that were in some way important to each of them.

The exhibition showcases some of the plants that these five people grew in their own gardens, illustrated by printed vouchers from Beatrix Farrand’s herbarium of plants that grew at her home, Reef Point in Bar Harbor.

George Dorr (1853-1944) had much in common with Farrand. Both of their families had homes on MDI, which they continued to live in as adults. They knew each other from a rather young age, and Farrand purchased plants from Dorr’s nursery for her MDI design projects.

They shared a love of nature and native plants, and both worked hard on behalf of Acadia National Park. The exhibition displays native MDI plants that were treasured by both Farrand and Dorr.

Renowned garden designer Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) experimented with plants in much the same way that Farrand did at Reef Point, at her English home, Munstead Wood.

After Jekyll’s death, Farrand purchased and preserved her archives, and later donated them to the University of California, Berkeley, where they remain accessible to garden scholars.

William Robinson (1838-1935) advocated “natural” gardening, in response to the formally bedded-out gardens of his era. He and Farrand became friends during her several visits to his English home, Gravetye Manor.

She adopted some of his gardening ideas, such as planting a mix of native and exotic plants, planting thickly to cover the soil, and naturalizing drifts of perennials.

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) introduced Farrand to the world of plant study. She spent a year under his tutelage at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum. He instilled in her a love of native plants, and encouraged her to study more by visiting other gardens. Sargent loved rhododendrons and azaleas, which he planted in abundance at his Massachusetts home, Holm Lea. Farrand also planted these shrubs, both at Reef Point and later at Garland Farm

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was Farrand’s aunt. They were close in age, and shared an interest in design. Wharton helped introduce Farrand to European gardens. She was also an early design client of Farrand, who designed some parts of Wharton’s Massachusetts home, The Mount.

Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959) learned much from these five mentors, and also by reading and studying, by traveling and reflecting on what she saw, and by improving her skills through experience. She designed more than one hundred private and public landscapes. Later, she developed the Reef Point Herbarium to document the plants at her Bar Harbor home, in order to educate students about plant identification and use. The remaining 938 of her herbarium vouchers are now part of the University of California’s herbaria.

This exhibition presents a unique opportunity to view high-quality images of nearly one hundred vouchers from Farrand’s Reef Point Herbarium, organized into five groups based on the gardens of Dorr, Jekyll, Robinson, Sargent and Wharton.

Close inspection of the exhibition provides insight into their gardens: Dorr’s native plants, Jekyll’s herbaceous perennials and roses, Robinson’s heaths and bulbs, Sargent’s rhododendrons and native plants and Wharton’s eclectic plant collection.

The 2019 Herbarium Exhibition is free and open to the public. More information about this and the Society’s summer events may be found at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.