Ellen Biddle Shipman
Mrs. Shipman is hailed as one of America's greatest "flower-garden makers", belonging to a generation of women landscape architects who were pioneers in a field that had been dominated by men up to the turn of the century. Daughter of Ellen Fish McGowan Biddle (of Philadelphia) and Colonel James Biddle, she spent much of her youth on the frontier outposts in Nevada & Arizona. Fo safety reasons, the Biddle family took up residence on her grandparent's farm in New Jersey in the late 1880's, and it was here that she first became acquainted with old-fashioned flower varieties.
In 1892, she entered Radcliffe College, and left after only one year to marry Louis Shipman. In 1894 they left Cambridge and moved to the Cornish Artist Colony in New Hampshire, and it was here that she met Charles A. Platt and began a long & prodigious career in designing landscapes for his clients' grand estates. Platt had an assistant train Mrs. Shipman in professional drafting, then hired her to design her first gardens.
Shipman's collaboration with Platt sharpened her design sense and helped her master architectural skills & intricacies of large-scale planting. Shipman favored the Colonial style she had become acquainted with at the Cornish Colony.
Shipman stressed the importance of privacy & enclosure in her gardens, providing a place of "quiet intimacy" to escape the trials of life. With a nod to Gertude Jekyll, she was most famous for her borders of old-fashioned plant varieties to create the feel of a "grandmother's garden". Of the 650+ gardens that she designed, few remain intact today. Laverock Hill's gardens remain a structural & horticultural history of her design aesthetics.