A preservation proposal for Helena Rutherfurd Ely’s gardens at Meadowburn Farm

Teal-Sullivan, Quill
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Delaware
The history and significance of Helena Rutherfurd Ely (1858-1920) and her gardens at Meadowburn Farm are relatively unknown. At the turn of the century, Ely was one of America’s most influential writers on practical gardening: her first book, A Woman’s Hardy Garden, was an extraordinary and lasting success. She was also a founding member and subsequent Vice President of the Garden Club of America. While her name has faded from common household knowledge, Ely’s gardens at Meadowburn Farm still remain, and the owners have begun to consider possibilities for preserving and opening the gardens to public visitation. This study clarified the significance of Ely’s gardens, assessed the feasibility of their preservation, and suggested applicable preservation models for the owners to consider. Research methods relied on qualitative data gathered through site visits, historical record research, and interviews with professionals and community leaders, complemented by quantitative survey data. Results indicated that Ely’s gardens are historically significant as the surviving personal gardens of an influential figure in American horticultural history. The characteristics of Meadowburn Farm and the surrounding community suggest preservation efforts will capture interest and patronage. Preserving these significant gardens will require investment of resources and dedicated leadership.
Historic garden preservation , Helena Rutherfurd Ely (1858-1920) , Country place