With a crammed spring schedule, I missed hearing author Justin Martin speak at the Enoch Pratt Free Library Tuesday. He had been there to talk about his recent biography, Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Olmsted. I had only met him when someone affiliated with Ladew Topiary Gardens asked me to give him a tour of Roland Park a few weeks ago. Then, I did most of the talking.
On Wednesday, I seized a free morning and accepted an invitation to join him downtown and hear more about his book. Over coffee I listened to him talk about the life and work of the pioneer of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. I’ve lived in an Olmsted community most of my life, but I knew little about the family’s personal life. Roland Park was designed not by Frederick Law Olmsted but by his son, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who, with his cousin, carried on his father’s work throughout the United States. As I listened about the father — a sailor turned farmer, journalist, Civil War medic and gold mine supervisor — I marveled at all this man brought to Central Park, his first (yes, FIRST) landscape project.