"Perfectly Delightful": The Life and Gardens of Harvey Ladew

by Mr . Christopher Weeks (Author)

Synopsis

An account of the life of Harvey Ladew and the glittering world he inhabited. When Ladew bought his Maryland farm in 1929, he had already lived a life that few, if any, could equal: born into the upper stratum of New York society in 1887, he spoke French before he spoke English and took boyhood drawing lessons from Met curators. As an adult he gave decorating instructions to Billy Baldwin (the dean of American interior design), lived as a houseguest of the Maharajah of Kapurthala, took a camel caravan across Arabia (with travel tips kindly provided by his good friend T.E. Lawrence), weekended at the stateliest of England's stately homes, lent his favourite horse to the Prince of Wales, matched wits with Edna Ferber, Noel Coward, Gertrude Stein and Dorothy Parker (in English), and with Jean Cocteau and Colette (in French), and (with Charlie Chaplin) saw Gertrude Lawrence off as she sailed from New York. To this story of multicontinental revelry, Weeks adds the background and development of Ladew's wonderful gardens, which attract thousands of visitors each year, and his important role as an environmentalist. When he began his garden in 1929, Ladew pioneered new artistic ground, for he was one of the first people in America to follow the tenets of the English arts and crafts garden. In 1971, the Garden Club of America awarded him the year's Distinguished Achievement Award. Christopher Weeks draws on photograph albums, scrap books, garden catalogues and memoranda, an unfinished autobiography, letters and guestbooks. There are photographs reproduced from Ladew's albums - some taken by him, some by leading photographers of the day, including many by Horst. There are also interviews with Ladew's friends from New York to Florida, to help illumine his remarkable personality.

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More Information

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 296
Edition: illustrated edition
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Published: 16 Apr 1999

ISBN 10: 0801861128
ISBN 13: 9780801861123

Media Reviews
A fast-paced, breezy, cheerful, anecdotal biography that gives the reader a brisk tour of the glittering surface of Ladew's life but also amply conveys the man's deeper qualities and his contributions: his thorough investigation of the subjects that interested him; his indomitable cheerfulness; his self- education through mastery of languages, wide reading, travel, and cultivation of interesting people of many types; above all, his gift to the world of his house and gardens, truly a great work of art. In short, throughout this enjoyable book, the reader is made aware that its subject is a life worth knowing. --John Dorsey, 'Baltimore Sun' The creator of the Ladew Topiary Gardens lived and incredible life...Part of a proto-jet set, the independently wealthy bachelor spent his tme fox hunting, painting, and cultivating his Harford County estate--all the while befriending and entertaining the most celebrated minds of the 20th century> --Margaret Guroff, 'Baltimore Magazine'
Author Bio
An architectural historian, Christopher Weeks serves on the consulting committee of the Ladew Topiary Gardens, the foundation Harvey Ladew established to care for his unique creation. Weeks has written or edited a dozen books on architecture and gardening and contributes frequently to periodicals such as the 'Green Scene, American Heritage' and 'Country Life', Harvey Ladew's favorite magazine.