Sabine Hall and the Chesapeake Falling Garden by Mollie Ridout

August 7, 2012

Sabine Hall, Courtesy Mollie Ridout

Sabine Hall, Courtesy Mollie Ridout

Mollie Ridout, Director of Horticulture for the Historic Annapolis Foundation and of the William Paca House in Annapolis, Maryland, writes of the distinctive style of gardening found in the mid-18th to early 19th century, the Falling Garden. Her article which appears in the quarterly newsletter of The Southern Garden History Society (Fall 2011, XXIV) describes the terraced gardens of Sabine Hall in Virginia overlooking the Rappahannock River as slopes between terraces or flats.  Ms. Ridout notes that the landowner Landon Carter who built his garden in 1710-1778, was probably influenced by the English garden writers of the day, Philip Miller and Batty Langley.  The Tidewater style of gardening was more formal than naturalistic.  The falling terraces were “…steeply sloping landscapes … a series of flats and falls … with a central path six feet wide … (which) …connected the levels by a grass ramp.” The landowners of the times “wanted a high order of control of the landscape, the ongoing struggle of American land-owners to overcome chaos of nature,” Ridout concludes.


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