When the American industrial designer Russel Wright and his wife, Mary, purchased 75 acres of sloping land high above the Hudson River in Garrison, New York, in 1942, they knew little, if anything, about gardening or horticulture. But over the next 30-some years, Wright transformed the area, damaged from a century of logging and quarrying, into one of the most extraordinary examples of landscape design of all time. “Wright’s greatest achievement was the landscape,” says Jean-Paul Maitinsky, the site’s executive director since 2011.
Alfred Caldwell quietly created landscapes rivaling those of his famous mentor Jens Jensen. Now, one of Caldwell’s brilliant works officially ranks among the best, on a short list that includes Jensen’s Columbus Park in Chicago. The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool at Chicago’s Lincoln Park has been named a National Historic Landmark, making it one of fewer than 50 landscapes to receive the nation’s highest honor for historic properties.
Try to picture what cemeteries were like a couple hundred years ago—maybe you better not. The standard practice in Europe and the United States was interment in churchyard burial grounds, and by the late 1700s these places had reached a critical level of overcrowding, with bodies even stacked atop one another. In an effort to ease this appalling situation, and as an extension of the popular “picturesque” style of landscape design, the rural or garden cemetery movement began, in which large park-like settings were designed as non-denominational burial sites.