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Home > Archive > Russell Page Archive: Design Diary

Russell Page Archive: Design Diary

Russell Page’s earliest work as a professional landscape architect, at North Luffenham Hall in Rutland, is captured in this 'Design Diary', an album of photographs of gardens.

  • Design Diary, Description of North Luffenham Hall garden

    RP/4/3/54/1

    1929

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Russell Page’s handwritten notes about the first stage of the planting scheme for the garden he designed for Guy Fenwick at North Luffenham Hall between March and May 1929.

  • Design Diary, Photograph of North Luffenham Hall garden, small pool

    RP/4/3/54/2

    June 1929

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A black-and-white photograph of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall dated June 1929 and labelled, ‘detail of small pool before planting’.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of North Luffenham Hall garden, before and after planting

    RP/4/3/54/3

    June 1929

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three black-and-white photographs of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall dated June 1929 and labelled, ‘unfinished below pool’, ‘looking down’ and ‘looking thru’ gap immediately after planting’.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of North Luffenham Hall garden, stream and spring

    Design Diary, Photographs of North Luffenham Hall garden, stream and spring

    June 1929

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Two black-and-white photographs of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall dated June 1929 and labelled, ‘right hand side of stream’ and ‘looking towards the spring immediately after planting’.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of North Luffenham Hall garden

    RP/4/3/54/5

    [1929]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Two black-and-white photographs, unidentified but presumably of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall and likely to have been taken after planting in 1929.

  • Design Diary, Photograph of North Luffenham Hall garden

    RP/4/3/54/6

    [1929]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A black-and-white photograph, unidentified but presumably of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall and likely to have been taken after planting in 1929.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of North Luffenham Hall garden

    RP/4/3/54/7

    [1929]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three black-and-white photographs, unidentified but presumably of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall and likely to have been taken after planting in 1929.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of North Luffenham Hall garden

    RP/4/3/54/8

    September 1932

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Four black-and-white photographs dated September 1932. They are unidentified but are presumably of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of North Luffenham Hall garden

    RP/4/3/54/9

    September 1932

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Four black-and-white photographs dated September 1932. They are unidentified but are presumably of the rock garden at North Luffenham Hall.

  • Design Diary, Description of rock garden at Flete

    RP/4/3/54/10

    October 1929

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Russell Page’s brief handwritten notes about a rock garden at Flete. (The following pages in the book are empty and there do not appear to be any photographs of the Flete project.)

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/11

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of the exterior of an unidentified house and garden.

  • Design Diary, Photograph of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/12

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated black-and-white photograph of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/13

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/14

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of the exterior of an unidentified house and garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/15

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/16

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/17

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/18

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/19

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/20

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/21

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/22

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/23

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

  • Design Diary, Photographs of an unidentified house and garden

    RP/4/3/54/24

    Undated [likely late 1920s or early 1930s]

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Three undated black-and-white photographs of an unidentified garden.

North Luffenham Hall, North Luffenham, Rutland, England (and other unidentified locations)

1929 to 1932

Archive of Garden Design Ref: RP/4/3/54

This bound album of photographs from the late 1920s and early 1930s provides a rare glimpse into Russell Page’s first forays into garden design (there are no plans before the 1940s in the Russell Page Archive). It begins with handwritten notes about the planting scheme Page devised for a rock garden at Guy Fenwick’s home, North Luffenham Hall, in 1929. To achieve the desired spectrum of colours – pinks, mauves, greys, whites, reds, yellows and oranges – he included primulas, thymes, irises, saxifrages, dwarf phloxes, gentians, aquilegias, daphnes and dwarf rhododendrons. The following pages in the album are filled with 20 black-and-white photographs of the rock garden, some from June 1929, others (taken in September 1932) showing the plants when more established.

Page had first become interested in rock gardens while at school, and learned much from reading books such as English Rock Garden by Reginald Ferrer and Wall and Water Garden by Gertrude Jekyll. Yet, it was from handling plants, from discovering their individual likes and dislikes, that Page truly grew to understand them. He had been allowed to experiment in the garden at his family’s home in Wragby, Lincolnshire. At North Luffenham Hall, however, Page was working on a much larger scale. It was a significant enough project for him to describe it at some length in The Education of a Gardener:

‘One of my earliest jobs was to make a rock garden in a Rutland field where the limestone of the Oolite Belt is near the surface and has provided the material for lovely villages where manor, church, farmhouses, and cottages were built of fine ashlar with Colley Weston stone tiles for roofing. North Luffenham, the village where I was working, had a fine thirteenth-century church and next to it was the manor house, Caroline on one side, Queen Anne on the other. In a field beyond the orchard its owners had recently discovered the ruined walls of an old fishpond and a spring. Through the hard frost of the spring of 1929 which continued, if I remember, till mid-April, I toiled away with a stable-boy to help me, harnessing the spring to make a streamlet running between and over stones out into the field below. We planted the garden with rooted cuttings and all sorts of plants acquired by exchange with neighbours. All through this time I was learning fast and my host, happy to find a young enthusiast who shared his passion, was always carrying me off to see gardens nearby or away on week-end visits to other garden lovers.’ (17)

After the photographs of North Luffenham Hall is a page headed ‘Flete October 1929’; presumably Russell Page was intending to record the garden which he designed for the Mildmay family at Flete House in south Devon. There are no notes, however, beyond ‘rock garden’ and ‘reddish limestone from local quarry’. Nor are there any images of the project (several of the subsequent pages are blank and it would appear that any photographs have been removed at some stage).

Something is known of the Flete garden, however, as Page did make reference to it in The Education of a Gardener, noting that his key task was to ‘make a rocky stream and a garden which would come into flower only in autumn’ (20). It would appear that the biggest challenge was the geographical location:

‘Gardening in the extreme south west was altogether different. In that mild and almost frost-free and very moist climate all kinds of trees and shrubs flourish which cannot be made to grow elsewhere; in fact Devonshire gardens, full as they are of rare botanical species, seemed to me then like an exercise in Latinity. Eden Phillpotts came to the rescue with his admirable book on trees and shrubs, and another helpful pundit was Ashley Froude, son of the historian, who lived near Dartmouth and had a garden full of the rarest shrubs. Like most gardens in that region it was more interesting than effective.’ (Page, 20)

The other photographs in the album are undated and unidentified. It is possible they are of gardens he visited with Guy Fenwick around this time; in The Education of a Gardener, Page makes reference only to seeing Mark Fenwick’s garden at Abbotswood near Stow-on-the-Wold and Lawrence Johnston’s home, Hidcote, but presumably there were other visits as well. Or they could be of early projects in France, such as the garden at the Chateau de Gregy, purchased by Ogden Codman Jr. in 1926 (later destroyed) where Page worked in the early 1930s.

Literature

Page, Russell. The Education of a Gardener. Harvill, 1994.