The Frick Garden Master
November 1, 1906
Today is the birthday of the British gardener, garden designer, and landscape architect Montague Russell Page.
Russell Page is best known for his garden classic called The Education of a Gardener. In his book, Russell shares his vast knowledge of plants and trees and design. The book ends with a description of his dream garden.
First published in 1962, Russell's book shares his charming anecdotes and timeless gardening advice. He wrote:
"I know nothing whatever of many aspects of gardening and very little of a great many more. But I never saw a garden from which I did not learn something and seldom met a gardener who did not, in some way or another, help me."
”I like gardens with good bones and an affirmed underlying structure. I like well-made and well-marked paths, well-built walls, well-defined changes in level. I like pools and canals, paved sitting places, and a good garden in which to picnic or take a nap.”
Russell is considered the first modern garden designer. Like Piet Oudolf, Russell used flowers to create living, natural paintings.
And although he designed Gardens for the Duke of Windsor and Oscar de la Renta, it was Russell Page who said:
"I am the most famous garden designer you’ve never heard of."
And here’s a recent twist to Russell’s legacy. In 1977, Russell designed the Gardens at the Frick Collection in New York City. However, in 2014 when the Frick was making plans to expand, they decided to demolish the Russell Page garden. After a year of facing public backlash in support of the garden (something the museum never anticipated), the Frick backed down when Charles Birnbaum, the founder of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, discovered an old 1977 Frick press release that proudly introduced the Page landscape as a permanent garden. Birnbaum shared his discovery on the Huffington Post, and thanks to him, the 3700 square-foot Page garden lives on for all of us to enjoy.