I’m talking today with Mary Perkins Olmsted, wife of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
Hello Mary. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Please tell us how you met your husband? Was it love at first sight?
Oh hardly. I was only eighteen when I met Fred at a neighborhood gathering. He was quite the ladies’ man back then. He barely gave me a second glance, which was all well and good as I promptly fell in love with his younger brother John.
Was that your first husband, Dr. John Olmsted? Oh, I’m sorry- I did not mean to upset you.
I still get a bit emotional talking of dear John. Yes, he and I married and honeymooned in Italy. We had three children together but he died at the age of thirty-two. Complications from tuberculosis. So sad.
How did you end up marrying your brother-in-law?
John begged Fred on his death bed to not let me suffer. So, Fred did the right thing and asked me to marry him and he adopted our three oldest children. He married me out of a sense of duty, but very soon, we found ourselves deeply in love.
Can you tell us a little about your family?
Of course. John Charles is our firstborn. He joined his father as soon as he graduated from Yale University. He has a very good eye and a keen mind. Our daughter Charlotte is married to a wonderful man, a doctor and they live just outside of Boston with their sons. Owen is still in school and plans to join his father and brother in the family business. Our Marion is a lovely girl, her nose is always in a book and last, but not least, our son Rick. He keeps us in stiches with his antics. I am blessed to have such a wonderful family.
How would you describe your husband’s design aesthetic?
Well, you’ll rarely see a straight line in any of his plans. He like to take direction from the land itself. The hills and valleys. Always vast expanses of green pastures. Everything is very natural and lush. I heard him describe his style as a sort of organized chaos. I think that describes it perfectly.
Does your husband consult with you on any of his design projects?
Oh yes, we frequently talk about the plans, the types of trees, the smallest of details. As the children are growing up and leaving home, I enjoy spending part of my day in the office. I set up appointments, meet with clients and make a few adjustments to his designs every now and again. Fred always seems to like my suggestions.
Which one of your husband’s projects is your favorite?
Oh my! I would have to say his first project, Central Park right here in Manhattan is my favorite. We are constant visitors- we walk, ice skate, go boating, ride horses. It is delightful. You should have seen it before my husband got his hands on it. 800 acres of smelly swamp land it was.
You sound like you are quite proud of your husband.
Oh, I am indeed. He has worked so hard to create lovely green spaces for all to enjoy. I can’t wait to see what he does next!
Thank you for speaking with me today, Mrs. Olmsted.
It has been my pleasure.
The real Fred & Mary
About the Author
Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a fulltime basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, a distant cousin of her husband’s, and his wife Mary.
www.amazon.com/author/gailolmsted Twitter: @gwolmstedInstagram: @gwolmsted
About the Book
A marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose. A shared vision transforms the American landscape forever.
New York, 1858: Mary, a young widow with three children, agrees to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted, who is acting on his late brother’s deathbed plea to “not let Mary suffer”. But she craves more than a marriage of convenience and sets out to win her husband’s love. Beginning with Central Park in New York City, Mary joins Fred on his quest to create a ‘beating green heart’ in the center of every urban space.
Over the next 40 years, Fred is inspired to create dozens of city parks, private estates and public spaces with Mary at his side. Based upon real people and true events, this is the story of Mary’s journey and personal growth and the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man.
Black Rose Writing: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/lit…/landscapeofamarriage
save with code PREORDER2021
Barnes & Noble: