Photos in order of appearance: Italian Garden, 2012; needlepoint of the Italian Garden by Ninah Cummer, 1947; Italian Garden, 2012; Italian Garden, 1937 (the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens Archives).
The Italian Garden was designed in 1931 by pre-eminent landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman (1869–1950). Shipman‘s clients included the Fords, Astors, Seiberlings, and countless other captains of American Industry. She was renowned for her artistic planting style, founded on years of hands-on gardening and horticultural expertise.
Like Mrs. Cummer, Shipman had also just returned from a trip to Italy, where she visited the Villa Gamberaia. The Italian Garden proved to be a marriage of Ellen Shipman’s skillful plan and Mrs. Cummer’s horticultural knowledge and ingenuity.
Shipman’s name slipped into obscurity, only to resurface in 1998 when a set of Cummer plans and blueprints was discovered in the designer’s archives at Cornell University. The discovery spearheaded a full-scale rehabilitation of the Italian Garden.
The Italian Garden is named in memory of Margaret Baker Berg.