Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver (L&S) established the first firm of professional women landscape architects in the Northwest. Their practice was the first to bring the Country Place Era genre of garden design to the west, a style originally developed for the new American capitalist to provide lavish formal gardens which would serve as a setting for social life. These gardens also provided a sense of comfort and seclusion due to the pairing of a formal Italian aesthetic with a softening English planting style.
According to Wallace Huntington, a Portland-based landscape architect, when Lord and Schryver opened their practice in Salem they were probably the best educated and trained of any practitioners in the Northwest. Both were graduates of the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture for Women, where they received a grounding in European and British garden design through an education which was considered the best available to women at the time. When Schryver graduated in 1923 she was hired by Ellen Shipman, one of the most prominent East coast landscape architects of the day. In 1927 she met Elizabeth Lord, the daughter of an Oregon governor and a skilled plantswoman, who was to graduate from Lowthorpe the following year. They formed a friendship that led to a 40-year partnership which produced designs for over 250 gardens throughout the northwest region.
Lord and Schryver gardens are known for their impeccable sense of scale and their skilled use of plant material. Flowering trees and shrubs, with emphasis on the broadleaf evergreens so suited to the Northwest climate, provide year-round interest. Ease of movement through the garden is stressed, as are privacy and livability. The best of their gardens are closely tied to the house and provide both intimate and gracious outdoor living spaces.
The gardens at Historic Deepwood Estate, one of Salem’s most beloved parks, were designed by L&S over a ten year period beginning in 1929. Until recently, Deepwood provided the only site where one of their domestic designs was accessible to the public. At this time tours of their home garden, Gaiety Hollow, are available through the Lord & Schryver Conservancy. These two gardens join their contributions at Bush’s Pasture Park, the Capitol grounds, the Marion County Courthouse and many other Salem public spaces in influencing our civic life.
Lord & Schryver Elements in Bush’s Pasture Park
In 1953, there were two cultivated landscape elements of the park that predate the beginnings of what we now know as Bush’s Pasture Park. The first is the collection of older ornamental trees that sweep west and north of the rose gardens and house, then east of the conservatory to the ravine south of Bush Barn. Many of these trees, including 45 flowering crabapples, were planted by L&S while working for Miss Sally Bush, daughter of A.N. Bush II, during the 1930s and 1940s. This Collection of Flowering Trees acted as a borrowed landscape for the L&S home property located across Mission St. from the park. The second element, the foundation plantings around Bush House, was designed by Elizabeth Lord, possibly quite early on. Elizabeth and Sally were great friends, Elizabeth having grown up in the Lord home on the corner of High and Mission. There are no drawings for the Bush House Foundation Plantings in the L&S Special Collection at the Knight Library at the University of Oregon. This collection includes all of the professional papers of the L&S landscape architectural firm.
Lord and Schryver continued to be involved during the early years of the park
development. In 1960 Edith designed the layout for the Tartar Old Rose Collection which was donated to Salem by Mae Tartar, while Elizabeth probably chose the placement of the roses within the design. This collection represents roses that were brought to Oregon during pioneer times, the Tartars having collected them from historic properties and cemeteries. It is thought to be the largest collection of old roses on public property in the Pacific Northwest.
Lord and Schryver continued to bring plant material into the park in the 1960s. Oral histories include reference to their driving their Buick into the park stuffed full of trees and shrubs. They would then ‘commandeer’ the head gardener and say, “Let’s go planting.” Perhaps the latter statement is a bit exaggerated, but their influence on the layout and the quality and diversity of the plant material in Bush’s Pasture Park is incredibly significant.
The Bush Barn Foundation Plantings project was designed and installed by L&S following the fire in 1964 that destroyed a significant part of the original Bush Farmstead barn. The barn had housed the City of Salem Parks’ equipment prior to the fire. The Salem Art Association, which had their offices and gallery in Bush House, then moved into the newly rebuilt Bush Barn, ensuring the development of Bush House as a fine museum of the Bush family’s Victorian lifestyle. In 2012 Friends of Bush Gardens began the restoration of the foundation plantings based on a drawing from the Knight Library. The restoration was completed with the installation of the three hawthorn trees located at the south end. This clump of trees will help balance the large beech tree seen as a whip in the photograph at the north end of the plantings.