Three summerhouses, each unique in design, ornament the Winterthur Garden. Spaced widely apart, they are a resting spot and a landmark in the landscape. In the 1967 book The Gardens of Winterthur in All Seasons, written by Harold Bruce with a forward by H. F. du Pont, the summerhouses are referenced as a group: “Garden structures are essential in a large garden because they provide a constant note in a constantly changing picture.” The solidity and permanence of the structures are emphasized. This is in contrast to the view of gardener and author William Robinson, (1838–1935), who was so influential on H. F. du Pont’s gardening style. In his 1883 The English Flower Garden and Home Grounds, Robinson wrote, “The summerhouse is generally a failure and often a heap of decay.” He advised those who remained undeterred to build them soundly and not of wood.
Du Pont did not always follow Robinson’s advice. The Latimeria Summerhouse, which gives focus and structure to the Peony Garden, was of wood, as was the Bristol Summerhouse. Only the Brick Lookout, with its masonry walls and copper roof, would have passed muster with Robinson.
Join me tomorrow (July 10) for our Wednesday at Winterthur walk. We will examine each of these buildings and learn more about their interesting histories. For more information on Wednesdays at Winterthur please visit, winterthur.org/wednesdays.
For more blog posts about the Latimeria Summerhouse, please visit these links:
Post by Maggie Lidz, Estate Historian and Garden Objects Curator
All the photos are by Karen Steenhoek