Rosemary Verey was the last of the great English garden legends. Although she embraced gardening late in life, she quickly achieved international renown. She was the acknowledged apostle of the “English style,” on display at her home at Barnsley House, the “must have” adviser to the rich and famous, including Prince Charles and Elton John, and a beloved and wildly popular lecturer in America. A child of a generation born between the two World Wars, she could have easily lived a predictable and comfortable life, devoted to her family, church, and horses, but a devastating accident changed her life, and with her architect-husband, she went on to create the gardens at their home that became a mandatory stop on every garden tour in the 1980s and 1990s. At sixty-two, she wrote her first book, followed by seventeen more in twenty years. Her husband s death, shortly after her career began, added a financial imperative to her ambition. By force of character, hard work, and determination, she tirelessly promoted herself and her garden lessons, traveling worldwide to lecture, sell books, and strengthen her network.
She was a natural teacher, encouraging her American fans to believe that they were fully capable of creating beautiful gardens while validating their quest for a native vernacular. She also re-introduced the English to their own gardening traditions. Drawing from garden history and its literature, she developed a language of classical formal design, embellished with her exuberant planting style. Here is her story, recounted by a successful Manhattan attorney who worked with her as a volunteer, who saw her as both a person and a professional, and who was close to her for the last twenty years of her life. A demanding and sometimes truculent taskmaster, and a relentless perfectionist, Rosemary Verey, in her life as in her work, was the very personification of the English garden style. Her influence will be felt for generations.
About Barbara Paul Robinson
During a sabbatical from Debevoise & Plimpton where she was the first woman partner, Barbara Paul Robinson worked as a gardener for Rosemary Verey at Barnsley House. A hands-in-the-dirt gardener herself, she and her husband created their own gardens at Brush Hill in northwestern Connecticut, featured in articles, books, and on television. A frequent speaker, Barbara has published articles in the New York Times, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, and Hortus; she has also written a chapter in Rosemary Verey’s The Secret Garden.
“Rosemary Verey” is an irresistible biography of a horticultural sage
The Washington Post Book Review – October 17, 2012 (Excerpt)
People sometimes ask reviewers how they happen to choose the books they write about. In this case, the answer is easy: The picture on the cover of “Rosemary Verey: The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener” was so lushly, ravishingly gorgeous that I couldn’t resist picking up the book. I subsequently learned that the Laburnum Walk at Barnsley was, according to its frequent photographer Jerry Harpur, perhaps “the most famous view of any garden anywhere in the world.”
Another reason I was drawn to this book is far more personal. I hoped that it would inspire me to become a more active gardener. Verey (1918-2001), as her biographer Barbara Paul Robinson says, “made beautiful gardens seem possible to the average homeowner. Her message was that you, too, could do this if you tried.” Built in 1697, Barnsley House certainly looks grand, but its surrounding property amounts to less than four acres, though — as the color plates in this book reveal — every foot of its soil has been deployed for banks of flowers, graveled walks, horticultural ornaments (a fountain and sundial, statuary), formally precise plantings and even a potager (an elegant French term for a vegetable plot). [Read the full article...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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