The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Integration of House and Garden

Garden and building may now be one.  In any good organic structure it is difficult to say where the garden ends and the house begins.

 Frank Lloyd Wright


Whenever possible, and at every story, build porches, galleries, arcades, balconies, niches, outdoor seats, awnings, trellised rooms, and the like at the edges of buildings–especially where they open off public spaces and streets and connect them by doors, directly to the room inside.

 A Pattern Language

Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein


Third Week in February

The Arts and Crafts Movement 

and the Integration of House and Garden


There was a brief period of time early in the 20th century, when Chicago and other cities of the Midwest that included Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and St. Louis were the center of design in the U.S., embracing the Arts and Crafts movement.  The “Prairie School” architects, which included not only Frank Lloyd Wright and his mentor Louis Sullivan, but George Grant Elmsley, William Gray Purcell, Walter Burley Griffin, Marion Mahony, George Maher, Dwight Perkins, Robert Spencer, and Landscape Architects Ossian Cole Simonds and Jens Jensen were practicing in Chicago.  In addition, the Department of Decorative Design of the Art Institute of Chicago was significantly influential, as was Hull House, a leader not only in social reform but in craft-making as well. Metalsmiths, jewelers, furniture makers, pottery and glass makers, and bookbinders proliferated, some still in business to this day.  Further, House Beautiful, one of several influential new publications that emerged around 1900 and focused on suburban houses and gardens, was published in Chicago by William Gannet—indeed, its first cover was designed by Wright (The Ideal Home, Janet Kardon, Editor, 1993).

That period of time speaks to me like no other–not only the aesthetics, but the politics, as well.  Teddy Roosevelt was the president and the Progressive Movement and Conservation were born.

But my focus today is on the integration of house and garden as promoted by Frank Lloyd Wright and others.  Here are some examples:











Only a glass wall separates the sun room from the terrace.  The two areas are fully integrated.  The nearby sedge is Long-beaked Sedge or Carex sprengellii, an attractive clump-forming sedge that grows in moist soil in partial or full shade.










An astounding garden grows within this brick terrace  and winding paths that connect the house with the garage/workshop.  The house, the gardens , and the workshop are fully integrated.



Several glass doorways in the house open onto this huge deck in the savanna..







My fantasy.



Loggia and terrace overlooking the reflecting pool at the Coonley house inRiverside, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright..


But we can have the same effect on a somewhat smaller scale.




Pergola-covered brick terrace, entered from the kitchen, overlooking back yard prairie garden.









A Pergola covers the deck overlooking a small gardenesque back yard.










Few  natives, but a spectacularly beautiful back yard!




Sliding glass doors lead to a brick terrace, bordered by a native Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and Gro-low Sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’ ) in this side yard.  ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea (Hydrangea aborescens ‘Annabelle’) blooms next to the house.










This shady patio and garden are accessed from sliding glass doors on the lower level of the house.  The stunning white plumes of native Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) brighten up a shady corner in June.  Combine it with Marginal Shield Fern (Dryopteris marginalis) and Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense).











This gravel path leads around the terrace and deck that surrounds the sun room and living room to an open savanna.  In the distance, Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) grows next to the deck.  This stunning sculpture adds interest to the gardens.












The back door of my bungalow opens to the back walk with the patio on the right with a table and chairs.  Short’s Aster (Aster shortii)  and Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) are in bloom.


This is where I used to live.  I designed this deck between the Family Room and the Master Bedroom, but I only got it half right.  The access to the outdoors from inside is great, but I didn’t integrate the deck with the back yard very well–only some plantings at the base of the deck.  I should have carried the garden further out into the lawn–at that time I didn’t know any better.

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8 Responses to The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Integration of House and Garden

  1. Monica Buckley February 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Inspiring, as always! Thanks, Pat.

  2. Shirley Pflederer February 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Important to note, “before I knew better”. We all have been there–even Aldo Leopold. Gives hope to others.

  3. Rachel Johansen February 19, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    This inspires me to blend home and garden even more. It seems to me the more we integrate Nature into our lives we find some peace and serenity.

  4. kathleen haerr February 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Hi Pat,
    Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly the concept I’ve designed to display at the Chicago Flower and Garden show on behalf of the Conservation Foundation this year. I wanted to portray the connection of home to the earth and vice a versa that we need to remember and live in harmony with.
    Here’s the details.
    feedback appreciated.

  5. JEAN MUNTZ February 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Appreciate the concept you are promoting.
    Your comment about “before I knew”, speaks to what many of us experience in our evolution as gardeners- with time and experience, we become more aware of the effect our decisions have upon the insects plants, animals, esthetics, and future of the “life support system” (ecosystem) we share with them.
    Maya Angelou benevolently suggests-(I must paraphrase), “I did the best I knew how do, and when I knew more, I did better”.

    • PatHill February 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      I like that saying a lot.

  6. Suzanne Massion February 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Pat, I definitely have to invite you back in May or later in the summer so you can see what that shot you captured of my rock garden looks like. The sedges, ferns, wild geraniums, and blood root have grown up around the reflecting pond in the 17 years since the house was built. A friend always gives me some water hyacinths to toss in the pond. Then I sit on the edge of the deck and watch all the green frogs holding their own Americas Cup.

    • PatHill February 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

      I can’t wait, Suzanne. Really looking forward to it.

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