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January ARHS Meeting: Kate Kerin, Innisfree Garden, NY, A Study in Slow Gardening

January 4, 2022 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Explore timeless design ideas and timely landscape management techniques at Innisfree—an iconic mid-twentieth century landscape in Millbrook, New York—that can be adopted by gardeners and designers anywhere. Innisfree is primarily the work of Lester Collins, thought by his peers to be one America’s great if unsung landscape architects. Working on a massive site with a tiny staff and budget over many decades, Collins drew on a deep understanding of ecology, light, and form in this landscape, a minimalist’s sense of drama, a woke global aesthetic, what he called “farmer common sense,” Quaker thrift, and the central desire to shape a moving human experience. In an innovative process that could be called slow gardening, Collins allowed an unusual amount of time for ideas and garden spaces to evolve. The result is a landscape that has both a fundamental sense of rightness—distilling the very essence of this place—and wonderous surprises while minimizing installation costs and ongoing maintenance. As an example, he created many gardens at Innisfree not by planting but with informed interventions in ecosystem succession so different plant communities that achieve desired design effects would emerge over time. Understanding Collins’ methods of site analysis, design thinking, and partnering with natural ecosystems and processes can enrich our own garden making and experiences.

About the Speaker

Kate Kerin has served as landscape curator at Innisfree since 2013 and wrote the award-winning National Register listing for this historic site. With a master’s degree in landscape architecture and an undergraduate foundation in architectural history and economics, Kate has been active in nonprofits focused on preservation and education throughout her career. As part of her master’s thesis at Cornell, she created the preservation plan for the Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield, in Hyde Park, NY, and was part of the team that formed and led the nonprofit organization charged with that garden’s restoration and stewardship by the National Park Service. Kate also maintains a private practice in garden design and nonprofit consulting.

This lecture will be presented via Zoom.  The Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History is closed for the month of January.  


January 4, 2022
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm