“Edith Wharton and the Villas of Rome,” A Lecture by Constance T. Haydock, Planting Fields, Oyster Bay, New York

August 2, 2010

Italian Villas and Their Gardens, a novel by Edith Wharton, 1904

Italian Villas and Their Gardens, a novel by Edith Wharton, 1904, Picture courtesy C.T. Haydock

Edith Wharton, author of “Ethan Frome,” “The Age of Innocence,” and “The House of Mirth” studied high society of New York.  She also studied the villas of Rome and was the first to write about Italian gardens in English.  Constance T. Haydock recently gave a talk on “Edith Wharton and the Villas of Rome,” at Planting Fields Arboretum and State Park in Oyster Bay, New York.  Haydock’s presentation included scenes of Italian villas: Medici, Casino Bel Respiro, Giulia, Nymphaeum and Casina Pia.  “Symmetrical, a balanced design, and architectural elements such as fountains, decorative walks, statues, clipped formal hedges and shrubs” are all indicative of an Italian garden,” Ms. Haydock pointed out.

Wharton's Home in France, Courtesy C.T. Haydock

Wharton's Home in France, Picture Courtesy C.T. Haydock

Edith Wharton’s niece, Beatrix Ferrand, a landscape architect ten years Ms. Wharton’s junior, greatly influenced her aunt.  Edith was also friends with Lawrence Johnston, the American expatriate, who gardened in England and South of France.  Constance Haydock noted that of her favorite gardens, “Ms. Wharton liked her St. Claire garden the best because its plants had so many associations with others.”

Edith Wharton’s home and garden, “The Mount,” in Lenox, Massachusetts, “embodies French, English and Italian gardens she visited,” said CeCe Haydock, a graduate of Princeton University (BA English) and a masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry.

After working for the New York City Parks

Department, she worked for the firm, Innocenti and Webel in Locust Valley, NY,

before starting her own practice, Constance T. Haydock, Landscape Architect, P.C.

For the past 25 years, she has been working on predominately residential projects,

as well as municipal parks and commercial sites. After completing her research

on Wharton and Roman villas in 2007 at the American Academy in Rome, she

has lectured and written on the topic for Old Westbury Gardens, Ladew Topiary

Gardens in Maryland, Temple Ambler University, Princeton University, and the

Edith Wharton Society.

Currently, CeCe is LEED certified, and is enlarging her practice to focus on

sustainability and “green” building. She is a national and chapter member of

the US Green Building Council, as well as a member of the American Society

of Landscape Architects, the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical

America, the Edith Wharton Society and The Mount.

The Mount, Lenox, MA, Courtesy C.T. Haydock

The Mount, Lenox, MA, Courtesy C.T. Haydock


For more information about the Mount:  www.edithwharton.org


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