Celebrate Gettysburg July/August 2012 : Page 13

Gardening Guidance A tribute to the father of American landscape architecture | By Steve Zimmerman Frederick Law Olmsted was a true American renaissance man whose rare combination of artistry, intelligence and practical knowledge afforded him the ability to leave a lasting imprint on our history and culture. Many may associate the name with the man who designed and supervised the building of Central Park in New York City. He was indeed that man; however, his influence went way beyond Central Park. Olmsted was born on April 26, 1822 in Hartford, Connecticut. He credited his father and stepmother with cultivating his love and respect for nature. Olmsted was planning on attending Yale; however, a case of sumac poisoning weakened his eyesight and he gave up his plans to attend college. Olmsted then became a seaman and traveled to China. Upon returning home, Olmsted purchased—with the help of his father—some land and settled into farming. During this period, he also married and started a family. In 1850, Olmsted visited England and, as a result, he wrote and published Walks and Talks of An American Farmer in England. The book also brought more journalism work. He was commissioned by the New York Daily Times (today’s The New York Times ) before the start of the Civil War to research slavery in the Southern states and send dispatches back to the paper for publication. These articles were later published in book form. At the time, many credit Olmsted with helping galvanize the antislavery movement in the Northeast. He traveled for more than three years in the South conducting investigative type journalism. Olmsted had very strong moral beliefs about the institution of slavery. When the Civil War broke out, Olmsted became the Executive Secretary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (USSC), the precursor to the American Red Cross. This was a private agency that raised its own funds to support the U.S. Army’s soldiers who were sick or wounded during the war. Olmsted organized a fair that raised $1 million for the USSC. During the Peninsula Campaign, Olmsted was responsible for shipping medical supplies to the area for wounded troops. Olmsted was in New York City during the Battle of Gettysburg but coordinated the relief effort. He later toured the encampments at Gettysburg and met with Gen. Meade. Olmsted later wrote to his wife, “The tide has turned. I think we can hold our heads up with good conscience again.” He also helped raise three regiments of African-American troops from New York. After the war, Olmsted and his family moved to California where he managed the Mariposa Gold Mining Estate. This was his last job before opening his own landscape architectural firm back East. When he was in California, Olmsted visited the Yosemite Valley and later served as the first head of the commission to preserve the valley. Olmsted was also a leader in preserving the land around Niagara Falls. He had a very strong belief that areas of natural beauty needed to be preserved for future generations. Between 1872 and his retirement in 1895, Olmsted operated his own landscape architectural firm. During that time period, his firm executed 550 projects. They included college campuses like Stanford University, the grounds to the U.S. Capitol and residential LIBRARY OF CONGRESS communities like Riverdale, Illinois. He worked with some of the country’s leading families: the Kennedys, Heinzs, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Edisons. Olmsted retired due to the onset of senility. He became a residence patient at McLean Hospital, whose grounds he had chosen. He died there in 1903 at age 81. Olmsted’s passion for landscape design, concerns for environmental and conservation issues and commitment to social equality bring to mind a quote by Thomas Fuller: “He that plants a tree loves others besides himself.” G c Steve and Laurie Zimmerman have owned and operated Zimmerman’s Azalea Gardens and Landscaping in Adams County since 1992. Questions or comments can be submitted to zimmermans@embarqmail.com or call 717-642-6256. Visit their website at www.zaglandscaping.com. 13

Gardening Guidance

Steve Zimmerman

A tribute to the father of American landscape architecture <br /> <br /> Frederick Law Olmsted was a true American renaissance man whose rare combination of artistry, intelligence and practical knowledge afforded him the ability to leave a lasting imprint on our history and culture. Many may associate the name with the man who designed and supervised the building of Central Park in New York City. He was indeed that man; however, his influence went way beyond Central Park. <br /> <br /> Olmsted was born on April 26, 1822 in Hartford, Connecticut. He credited his father and stepmother with cultivating his love and respect for nature. Olmsted was planning on attending Yale; however, a case of sumac poisoning weakened his eyesight and he gave up his plans to attend college. Olmsted then became a seaman and traveled to China. Upon returning home, Olmsted purchased—with the help of his father—some land and settled into farming. During this period, he also married and started a family. <br /> <br /> In 1850, Olmsted visited England and, as a result, he wrote and published Walks and Talks of An American Farmer in England. The book also brought more journalism work. He was commissioned by the New York Daily Times (today’s The New York Times) before the start of the Civil War to research slavery in the Southern states and send dispatches back to the paper for publication. These articles were later published in book form. At the time, many credit Olmsted with helping galvanize the antislavery movement in the Northeast. <br /> <br /> He traveled for more than three years in the South conducting investigative type journalism. Olmsted had very strong moral beliefs about the institution of slavery. <br /> <br /> When the Civil War broke out, Olmsted became the Executive Secretary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (USSC), the precursor to the American Red Cross. This was a private agency that raised its own funds to support the U.S. Army’s soldiers who were sick or wounded during the war. Olmsted organized a fair that raised $1 million for the USSC. During the Peninsula Campaign, Olmsted was responsible for shipping medical supplies to the area for wounded troops. <br /> <br /> Olmsted was in New York City during the Battle of Gettysburg but coordinated the relief effort. He later toured the encampments at Gettysburg and met with Gen. Meade. Olmsted later wrote to his wife, “The tide has turned. I think we can hold our heads up with good conscience again.” He also helped raise three regiments of African-American troops from New York. <br /> <br /> After the war, Olmsted and his family moved to California where he managed the Mariposa Gold Mining Estate. This was his last job before opening his own landscape architectural firm back East. <br /> <br /> When he was in California, Olmsted visited the Yosemite Valley and later served as the first head of the commission to preserve the valley. Olmsted was also a leader in preserving the land around Niagara Falls. He had a very strong belief that areas of natural beauty needed to be preserved for future generations. <br /> <br /> Between 1872 and his retirement in 1895, Olmsted operated his own landscape architectural firm. During that time period, his firm executed 550 projects. They included college campuses like Stanford University, the grounds to the U.S. Capitol and residential communities like Riverdale, Illinois. He worked with some of the country’s leading families: the Kennedys, Heinzs, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Edisons. Olmsted retired due to the onset of senility. He became a residence patient at McLean Hospital, whose grounds he had chosen. He died there in 1903 at age 81. <br /> <br /> Olmsted’s passion for landscape design, concerns for environmental and conservation issues and commitment to social equality bring to mind a quote by Thomas Fuller: “He that plants a tree loves others besides himself.” <br /> <br /> Steve and Laurie Zimmerman have owned and operated Zimmerman’s Azalea Gardens and Landscaping in Adams County since 1992. Questions or comments can be submitted to zimmermans@embarqmail.com or call 717-642-6256. Visit their website at www.zaglandscaping.com.

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