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The Romantic Garden
by Marion Duckworth Smith

Jackson Heights Has Its Own Martha Stewart - M.D. Smith
by Liz Rhoades, Managing Editor, Queens Chronicle, February 03, 2005

If you crave a Martha Stewart fix now that she’s out of commission for awhile, there’s a new gal in town from Jackson Heights who will satisfy all those needs.

I don’t know about her skills in the kitchen, but when it comes to gardening, decorating and the fine arts, no one comes close to Marion Duckworth Smith. You can read about her skills in “The Romantic Garden,” published by Sterling Publishing Company.

The author and her husband, Michael, are responsible for lovingly restoring the 1654 Riker-Lent homestead in Jackson Heights, which is the oldest building in the city that is still used as a private residence.

When that arduous job was completed, Duckworth Smith turned her attention to the sprawling one-acre garden, adjacent to the Riker Cemetery, which is also on the property. Through years of back-breaking work and constant tweaking, the garden has become a gem.

Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public, but readers will be transfixed when they pick up this coffee table book that is filled with gorgeous shots of the garden at its summertime best. Most of the photographs were taken by Duckworth Smith, a professional photographer, who specializes in greeting cards, calendars and magazine illustrations.

Her artistic talents are evident in the book’s photographs as well as in her knack for arranging things just right. A blue hydrangea placed on a white wrought-iron bench invites the reader to sit down and admire the view. A slightly chipped pitcher that is a flea market find turns up filled with colorful flowers next to a decorative cherub mounted on a brick wall.

This book is a treat for the eyes and anyone who loves flowers and plants will enjoy paging through it. But there’s more than just voluptuous illustrations to show Duckworth Smith’s romantic side, which she admits permeates her life.

The commentary perfectly complements the photographs and the author does not preach. Instead, she shows the readers how to make the best of whatever outdoor space they have. She admits her style is not for everyone, but nevertheless offers general tips that everyone can adapt to their taste.

Duckworth Smith’s use of metal and wooden gates, statues and whimsical birdhouses and feeders show how you can set off different areas of your garden, even if you don’t have an acre of land.

She also doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is particularly refreshing. I especially liked the photo of a slightly beat-up painted metal washbasin, which serves double duty for the author. She uses it as a birdbath with floating white hydrangeas and as an iced-drink container for parties. “It can be placed almost anywhere in the garden for gatherings, where it inevitably sparks lively conversation with my guests,” Duckworth Smith writes.

There is also a good balance between the text and photographs. The photographs illustrate beautifully Duckworth Smith’s ability at arranging, while her breezy writing never detracts from that ambiance.
Her numerous collections of dishware, baskets, buckets and other accoutrements she uses in the garden rival those of Martha Stewart. And the author will give you plenty of ideas to use in your own garden.
What better time to read “The Romantic Garden,” than now, in the dead of winter. The author draws you into her pictures and you are once again sipping iced tea in the middle of summer, only this time under her Victorian gazebo near a four-tiered gurgling classic fountain. Ah, if only...

If you’re yearning for a winter escape and who isn’t with 15 inches of snow on the ground, look no further than “The Romantic Garden.” It would make a perfect Valentine’s gift for gardeners and those who have a romantic outlook on life. The book can be purchased at select Barnes & Nobles (they will gladly take your order if it’s not in stock) and at

It’s a delight for all seasons."

HomeStyle Books Club Review

"Marion Duckworth Smith and her husband Michael live in a 17th-century farmhouse, surrounded by lush gardens—in New York City! Sounds impossible, but it’s true. In this delightful book, she shows how she transformed her property into a romantic oasis—surmounting the challenges of her urban location every step of the way. Intermingling lovely color photos with smart tips about plantings and accessories, the book reveals how you can turn your garden into a personal expression by using things you love.

On every page you’ll find ideas that will help you to fulfill your garden dreams, including:

• Combining different styles of fences, garden gates and trellises to add variety. 
• Creating a tranquil space by nestling a cast-iron bench beside abundant foliage.
• Capturing the essence of romantic decoration by arranging plants and freshly-cut flowers in containers with unique shapes and delicate details. 

Take it from Marion Duckworth Smith: If she can transform her New York City garden, so can you!"

Additional Information:
Hardcover: Color photos; 144 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 2.00 x 10.75 x 10.50 
Publisher: Sterling; (May 28, 2004) 
ISBN: 1402705360

Samples from The Romantic Garden by Marion Duckworth Smith

Available online from the following vendors:     Barnes & Noble     HomeStyle Books

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Last Updated March 19, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Michael M Smith.