Jane began by talking about her childhood in England where her parents were avid gardeners around their house, and she and her siblings were expected to help with the work. Jane’s brother is now an eminent tree pathologist and her sister is an experienced gardener. As an adult Jane came to the United States, and was married and then divorced. She needed to have an income so decided to work as a gardener. She also enrolled in the GWU Landscape Design program but describes herself as a terrible student, so she quit. She requested garden nursery jobs and learned much about plants and dealing with people there. She also worked with contractors and did “take-offs”- pricing landscapes for new building projects. She worked with a Dutch gardener who taught her a great deal about design and balance – also never to work for one person. She worked with a number of other people who provided additional learning experiences.
Jane has always worked in private gardens – not commercial. She described how she worked at the Vice President’s residence on the garden surrounding the pool. For another prominent family she did a garden rework and created a circular lawn area that could handle party tents if needed. She also worked on Blair House, the President’s guesthouse, where the Empress of China had provided a silver birch that needed to possibly be removed, but finally was not. Then there was Trinity Graveyard in Upperville, VA, at a church built by the Mellon family. A local family gave $85,000 for 2 pavilions and a garden for this area.
Jane then moved into her slide presentation, starting with a garden of the family of Giant Foods. The wife wanted a garden that provided a view into the yard. Her brother lived next door and gave up part of his land for the garden. The next slides were of a prominent family garden in Georgetown. They wanted a rose garden among the stone and brick walls, and bowls of water for the bees. Jane showed photos of a trough fountain she installed, uniform pots and bowls, and used mazus to fill between the stones on the walking paths. People from Dumbarton Oaks come to prune the wisteria four times per year. The large trees on the site were craned in. One in particular was notable as Jane discovered the perfect tree in Connecticut. Bartlett Tree was on site when it was brought in and unfortunately the main branch broke in the process. Bartlett ended up wrapping the tree and it ultimately did just fine.
Jane shared not only her beautiful gardens with us, but also several of her very challenging experiences and lessons learned as a garden designer. It was an inspirational evening and one not to be forgotten by the large group of admiring LDG members fortunate to be present. Thank you Jane!