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A Birthday to Remember: The Legacy of Landscape Architect Fredrick Law Olmsted

Published June 21, 2022

On April 26, a group of garden lovers gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” and eat cake in honor of a friend. The catch? The friend being celebrated was born 200 years ago, all the way back in 1822. Nobody in attendance knew Fred Olmsted personally, but everyone in attendance has felt his impact. 

Fred Olmsted is known by many as the father of landscape architecture. Olmsted’s credits are numerous and impressive. He designed NYC’s Central and Prospect Parks, the grounds for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and even the landscape surrounding the United States Capitol building. An early conservationist, he helped develop a preservation plan for Yosemite and he advocated for the protection of Niagara Falls. His work has been the foundation of countless American landscapes and parks, many of which now reflect his vision of unifying water, greenery and woods into one cohesive space.

In celebration of his birthday, the Conservatory joined the Little Garden Club of Columbus and Women’s Board for a special engagement curated by Fred Olmsted himself! This event, initiated by the Garden Club of America, celebrated the life, leadership and legacy of Olmsted through a historical impersonator well-versed in the life experiences of Olmsted. This lecture highlighted the importance of connecting with nature in all spaces—a trait that continues to be central to the Conservatory’s vision.

With your support, the Conservatory has been able to incorporate and reimagine Olmsted’s commitment to visually compelling spaces through our kinetic, accessible, immersive and distinctive experiences including the Robin’s Nest and Sandstone Creek water feature in the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden. 

The Conservatory, like many gardens, continues to integrate water, greenery and wooded spaces together to create vibrant and interesting environments for respite. Elements of Olmsted’s influence can be seen in the current Topiary Takeover exhibition featuring whimsical, yet realistic, topiaries through various mediums and plant textures.

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