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Louise Agee Wrinkle’s Southern Woodland Garden

Louise Agee Wrinkle's garden in Mountain Brook, Alabama, has inspired a book and Garden Conservancy documentary film.

Learning about Louise Agee Wrinkle’s garden in Mountain Brook, Alabama, one is struck by her devotion, perseverance, and unfailing curiosity. Gardening is not for the faint of heart, as her book, Listening to the Land: Creating a Southern Woodland Garden, and a documentary film from the Garden Conservancy, A Garden in Conversation: Louise Wrinkle’s Southern Woodland Garden Sanctuary, relay so well. Its success depends on many factors.

Louise Agee Wrinkle sunken garden with flowering crabapples, tulips, parterre

Photo courtesy of Louise Agee Wrinkle

Louise Wrinkle added native crabapples to her mother’s original sunken garden.

Wrinkle and “The Committee,” as she has dubbed her advisers, have taken up the challenge beautifully over the years. Her affection for the property took root during her childhood, and she returned after her parents died to take over and to make the garden her own.

As her book title and the film name inform, Louise’s focus is on listening to the land, not trying to dictate. “My lifelong connection with this piece of Alabama woodland has taught me how to hear its particular voice,” she writes. In the book, she takes us along on her delightful path through that woodland.

Louise has been a leader in the surge of appreciation for native gardening across the country. The Garden Conservancy notes, “Together on film, Wrinkle and her ethereal woodland sanctuary present a unique opportunity for viewers to explore the nexus of preservation and conservation.”

As Robert Dash wrote in Notes from Madoo, “All gardens are a form of autobiography,” and Wrinkle’s is no exception.

A statue of St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners in Louise Wrinkle’s Mountain Brook, Alabama garden

Photo courtesy of Louise Agee Wrinkle

A statue of St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners in Louise Wrinkle’s Mountain Brook, Alabama garden

A crisscross pattern of Confederate jasmine graces the wall of the parking court.

Photo courtesy of Louise Agee Wrinkle

A crisscross pattern of Confederate jasmine graces the parking court.

Bulldozer/backhoe at work in Louise Wrinkle's woodland garden

Photo courtesy of Louise Agee Wrinkle

“To gain a ‘natural look’ demands men and machines,” writes Wrinkle.

By FLOWER magazine editors | Updated March 18, 2024

Book cover - Listen to the Land by Louise Agee Wrinkle

Listen to the Land: Creating a Southern Woodland Garden by Louise Agee Wrinkle (PMT Publishing Inc. 2018)

A Garden in Conversation: Louise Agee Wrinkle’s Woodland Sanctuary will premiere on Sunday May 5, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. at the Virginia Samford Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama. The movie, part of the Suzanne and Frederic Rheinstein Garden Documentation Program at the Garden Conservancy, also marks the first time the Conservancy has interviewed the creator of a garden it has documented on film.

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Wrinkle is a founding member and Director Emerita of the Garden Conservancy. She has been a distinguished member of the Garden Club of America for 40 years. She received the Foundation for Landscape Studies’ Place Maker Award in 2019.

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