Henriette Granville Suhr
A Life’s Work:
Half a Century in the Garden
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Henriette Granville Suhr scared me the other night. She said something that rang too true.
“When we started gardening, actually it’s still true today, we went to the nursery and bought plants we liked. They told us they were dwarf, so we just put them where we thought they would look good. We didn’t think they ever get to be 40 feet tall.“
That is also my story, but I haven’t lived long enough to see my dwarf trees get 40 feet tall.
Henriette Granville Suhr talked with Marco Polo Stufano about her garden and her life. Most of us thought that the slide show of photographs from Ms. Suhr childhood and career as head of Home Furnishing Department at Bloomingdales in 1950’s would have something to do with the kind of garden she has made over the last half century. Even Mr. Stufano could not eke out a connection between her career, which was visionary and her garden, which is very beautiful.
He tried though. He gave a few examples of how Ms. Suhr had broken the rules. Parrot tulips planted in bouquets in the middle of a meadow, crab apples in a line at the edge of the woods, lilac standards placed next to maple trees instead on a terrace in pots. But Ms. Suhr disagreed. “I don’t think we ever had any rules.”
Ms. Suhr has given her 8-acre garden, Rocky Hills to Westchester County Department of Parks and Recreation and Conservation. Her parting words to the audience, “You can control what is inside your house, but you cannot control what is outside. It tells you what to do!”
When I am in my ninth decade, I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do, especially Nature. It’s obvious, I haven’t yet learned the lesson Ms. Suhr has.