Friday, May 8, 2015

Charlotte Moss with the ICAA

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of hearing Charlotte Moss speak for the Mid-Atlantic ICAA in Georgetown at the historic Dumbarton House. The Federal styled house, built in 1800, has been a museum since 1928 when it was bought the the Colonial Dames of America.
The house is kept accurate to the time of its building and is a hidden gem here in Georgetown. Not to be missed are the beautiful gardens which are somewhat eclipsed by their famous neighbor up the street, Dumbarton Oaks.
Moss spoke about her latest book, her 9th, Garden Inspirations. Her lecture was so witty, inspiring, and surprisingly down-to-earth that everyone left if not ready to garden, ready to travel and see some of the sights she shared with us! She said time and again that the book isn't a gardening how-to; you won't find planting lists or how deep to plant seeds. Rather you will find inspirational photographs of beautiful gardens and how to use their blooms both inside and outside of your own home.  She believes that everyone may not have a garden, but they can still be influenced by them.
 Moss's appreciation of gardens has changed over the years. She started loving the classic English Garden, which is so influential here in the USA because of our climate. She loves their beautiful flowers but found the style to be high maintenance; difficult for a city dweller who only visits her garden on the weekends. Even with help in the garden she prefers to be very hands on.
After giving up on her dreams of a English styled garden, she moved onto the more formal French gardens, famous for their symmetry. She was also drawn to the style for their love of the sculptural tree, 'No one can shape a tree like a Frenchman' - except perhaps Bunny Mellon whom Moss spoke about at length.  The third favorite garden type she spoke about was the Italian, rare in the USA where our climate is not hospitable to the plants, but if one learns abundance from the French, one can learn ease from an Italian garden.
Collaboration in her gardens in East Hampton are important and Charlotte designed hers with professionals -namely Lisa Stamm and her architect husband Dale Booher. Garden festivals are one of Moss's passions and she travels the world exploring these functions. She may not be able to bring the plants home but she can talk to the gardeners and pick up tips and ideas. They're also generally hosted in some of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
Charlotte spoke personally about her love of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, which she visited first as a 4th grader in Richmond, Virginia, and fell in love with the house and gardens. That love continues to this day as she is on their board of directors and helps in the care of this important site. She believes in historic preservation as one of the most important cultural institutions we have, as do I, because it preserves how people have lived through different times. We can always learn from the past, and as it turns out, from gardens. One can also learn from Charlotte, who encourages us all to ' Do something mad... you can do anything you like with your own house, who cares what anyone else thinks'!
I highly encourage you to grow your collection of Charlotte's inspirational tomes, with the addition of Garden Inspirations and go out there and do something MAD!
Images from Garden Inspirations by Charlotte Moss.


Chronica Domus said...

Sounds like it was an interesting talk and most inspirational.

Monticello is indeed a gem and I'm happy that Ms. Moss plays a part in taking care of it.

Paisley Curtain said...

"Do something mad... you can do anything you like with your own house, who cares what anyone else thinks'! I totally agree with Charlotte Moss on this, our house and garden is supposed to reflect who we are and is supposed to be comfortable for us. (Unless we live in a show house).
Will order my copy of Ms. Moss' book tonight.

Best wishes, have a great weekend.

Karena said...

Stefan how wonderful to hear Charlotte speaking on gardens. She is certainly an expert and is making a difference!
The Arts by Karena

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Hi, Stefan,

It sounds like a very entertaining talk, and I would have loved to have gotten the insights to Bunny Mellon and her world. Thanks for the link to Monticello, one of my favorite places.

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

I think it's so true that you don't have to have a garden to enjoy or get gardening tips.i am half Australian and so my relatives being Anglo descent would mimic British gardens in a climate so different. It was only s few decades ago that they realised it might be better to go with nature! I have window boxes but you can still do a lot with pots!

Lord Cowell said...

What a sweet little garden folly!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful account of her lecture and her garden aesthetic. I have never been to Dumbarton House or the Oaks- a must on my to do list! Hope all is well with you and that you're having a wonderful holiday weekend. Xo Nancy