Sylvia Crowe

Dame Sylvia Crowe, DBE (15 September 1901 – 30 June 1997 was an English landscape architect and garden designer.

Crowe was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, the daughter of Beatrice (née Stockton) and Eyre Crowe, a cabinet manufacturer. Her father retired early due to ill health and moved the family to Felbridge, Sussex, to work as fruit farmer. Crowe attended Berkhamsted Girls’ School, Hertfordshire from 1908 to 1912, and because of her suffering from tuberculosis she was also home schooled on the family farm.   

She trained under Madeline Agar at Swanley Horticultural College (later absorbed into Hadlow College, which continues to teach University of Greenwich courses in garden design).  After college Crowe served an apprenticeship with Edward White at the Milner, Son & White company and then worked as a garden and landscape designer for 14 years.   In July 1939 she was elected to the Council of the Institute of Landscape Architects, later the Landscape Institute. During World War II, Crowe served in France with the Polish Army.

After the War, Crowe served as President of the Institute of Landscape Architects from 1957 to 1959 and made important contributions to landscape planning for new towns, roads and forestry. Among her notable projects is the roof garden for the Scottish Widows building in Edinburgh, created using native Scottish plants.

In 1969, landscape architect Kenneth Booth designed the cooling towers for Ironbridge B power station and was heavily influenced by the advice set out in Crowe’s The Landscape of Power (1958).

In the mid-20th century Lower Soughton Hall at Northop in Flintshire belonged to the Gray family. In 1972, Stephen Alexander Reith Gray was Flintshire High Sheriff and Chief Executive of Shotton Steelworks. He commissioned Crowe and Raymond Cutbush to redesign the gardens and they remain much as they look today, with formal and informal features which includes herbaceous borders, yew hedges and island beds with mixed planting.

Crowe received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1977.

Crowe died at St Mary’s Hospital, London on 30 June 1997 of bronchopneumonia. She never married.

Books in order of publication:

Tomorrow’s Landscape. London: Architectural Press, 1956

Garden Design. London: Country Life, 1956

The Landscape of Power. London: Architectural Press, 1958[4]

The Landscape of Roads. London: Architectural Press, 1960

Space for Living: Landscape Architecture and the Allied Professions (ed.) Amsterdam: Djambatan, 1961

Shaping Tomorrow’s Landscape. Amsterdam: Djambatan, 1964

Forestry in the Landscape. London: HMSO, 1966 (With Zvi Miller)

Landscape Planning: A Policy for an Overcrowded World. Morges, Switzerland: IUCN, 1969

The Landscape of Reservoirs. London: Association of River Authorities, 1969

The Gardens of Mughul India a History and Guide. London, Thames and Hudson, 1972 (with Sheila Haywood, Susan Jellicoe and Gordon Patterson)

The Pattern of Landscape. Chichester: Packard Publishing, 1988 (with Mary Mitchell).

%d bloggers like this: