Elizabeth Lawrence ( 1904-1985) is an internationally known garden writer and was the first female graduate of the first program of landscape architecture ever offered in the South . She is listed amongst the top twenty-five gardeners of all time!
Last week a friend and I went to tour Elizabeth Lawrence’s House and Garden in Charlotte.
Elizabeth Lawrence is my inspiration as a gardener and landscape designer. When I first started gardening in the South in 1996, I realized that it was going to be very different from gardening in Great Britain when I had to wield a pick axe to break into the heavy clay soil. I almost gave up in despair until I found Elizabeth Lawrence’s book “The Southern Garden .” I needed help in selecting suitable plants that would survive the acidic clay soil and intense summer heat and this book does that and more. The writing style is very knowledgeable, practical and soothing and focused on the very real conditions of gardening in the South. Elizabeth Lawrence used her garden as a laboratory for growing trees, shrubs and plants to find out their best growing conditions and with this information, she could design landscapes with the optimum plants for the landscape. She had a huge network of gardeners and nursery people who sent her plants to trial and test out in her garden, which she would then write about in her books and garden columns.
Like Elizabeth, I keep my own records of when plants bloom, in a small notebook that I put together every year. I jot down the earliest blooms, brief notes about the weather, notes on when the plants stop blooming and any ideas for improvements for the next year. Sometimes I print out photos of different plant combos that look good together in the garden. This information is invaluable for designing landscapes and for planning horticultural therapy activities.