Fletcher Steele was one of the first landscape architects to experiment with modernism, but he was not a modernist zealot. In fact, he once said: “A good garden abounds in suggestions to the past.”
A new short film created by the Library of American Landscape History and the filmmakers at Florentine Films/Hott Productions examines Steele’s most famous work, Naumkeag. The garden is best known for its Blue Steps with their parabolic railings; however, the stairs have only a small role in the film Fletcher Steele and Naumkeag: A Playground of the Imagination. The landscape historian Robin Karson, Affiliate ASLA, who provides most of the commentary, says the garden’s “masterpiece” is actually its sculptural South Lawn, which the film captures beautifully. Meanwhile, much of the film is dedicated to Naumkeag’s garden rooms that draw from Chinese and European precedents. You can see the entire film on the LALH website.