Garden Curator – Scott Travaline
Garden Ambassador – Claire Casstevens

The gardens at the Mansion were created to represent two time periods during the Victorian era. The northwest triangle of the garden was based on the philosophy and designs of Andrew Jackson Downing’s book The Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1841. Frank Scott’s book Art of Beautifying Suburban Grounds, 1870, was the inspiration for the southeast portion of the garden. Nationally renowned landscape architect Reed Engle designed the Mansion gardens using precepts from these books.

Downing Garden | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

The Downing Garden

Before the Civil War, landscape gardening in America reflected the styles fostered by the English garden designers of the early Victorian Era. America’s most influential landscape gardener at this time was Andrew Jackson Downing. Downing had two main approaches to the design of the landscape garden surrounding a home – the Beautiful and the Picturesque. Within the Picturesque he includes a Gothic mansion such as Maxwell. Downing believed that a single color should be used in each bed, although not always the same plants. For example, the Mansion’s purple bed features ageratum and lavender; whereas, begonias and candytuft fill the white bed. Downing did not believe in foundation plantings as the English felt such plants trapped moisture thus causing disease.

The Scott Garden

Frank Scott dedicates his book to the memory of A.J. Downing, his friend and instructor, this book is dedicated, with affectionate remembrance. Scott believed firmly in a well-trimmed lawn, stating a smooth, closely shaven surface of grass is by far the most essential element of beauty on the grounds of a suburban home. Scott preferred the transparency of iron fencing; the Mansion displays such fencing. The use of fruit trees close to the house is shown in Scott’s plans many times over; therefore, the Mansion garden features three espaliered trees – Montmorency cherry, Bartlet pear, and Red Haven peach. The ribbon garden is designed to mimic the scallops on a lady’s dress. Dusty Miller, Blue Salvia, and Peach Geraniums form these swags in our 2021 Scott garden.

Notice the grape arbor. We are also growing gooseberries and blueberries.

Claire Casstevens - Garden Ambassador

Claire Casstevens

Claire is a landscape designer whose work has taken her from the Virginia piedmont, where she received her Masters of Landscape Architecture at UVA, to London and Philadelphia. She currently works at OLIN, a landscape architecture and planning firm. She is a plant and garden enthusiast whose approach to historic landscapes is informed by her liberal arts background as well as firsthand experiences on farms, at historic sites like Monticello, and in her own garden. At the Mansion, Claire is developing a new garden brochure and garden tour.

Scott Travaline - Garden Curator

Scott TravelineScott, a graduate of Temple University School of Horticulture, brings years of professional experience growing and selecting annuals and perennials for professional and residential clients. He is an expert in cultivation and plant and tree species. Scott is carefully planting and restoring the historically designed gardens at the Mansion.

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Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion’s Victorian gardens are funded in part by the Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America.