From Old Greenwich to Venice

John Dixon Hunt led a virtual tour through the gardens of Venice for those attending a lecture hosted by the Greenwich Decorative Arts Society.

Those attending the June 4 lecture hosted by the Greenwich Decorative Arts Society quickly left their Old Greenwich surroundings behind.

Indeed, the talk – “The Very Idea of a Garden in the Middle of the Sea: Gardens of Venice” – had us all transported to the romantic Italian destination.

It was easy, thanks to the talk offered by John Dixon Hunt, a British landscape historian and professor emeritus of The History and Theory of Landscape in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Hunt has written dozens of garden-themed books, including “The Venetian City Garden: Place, Typology, and Perception” (Birkhauser, 2009).

In the event held at the First Congregational Church, we heard about the long history of gardens in Venice.

Hunt took us on a tour, sharing his decades of research along with quirky asides such as a story about the securing of a rare book when working with famed philanthropist, garden designer and art collector Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon (featured in WAG in October of 2016) and quite a few charming tales of how he gained access to the often-private gardens of Venice.

As he said, “Those of us who know Venice will often see gardens peeping over a wall.”

The event wrapped up the decorative arts society’s season, also marking its move to Old Greenwich. It will now hold most of its programs there, as its longtime event home, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, undergoes its major expansion.

The 2018-19 schedule of the society was also unveiled. Programs kick off Oct. 1 with a special lecture/luncheon at the Riverside Yacht Club. Thomas Michie, Russell B. and Andrea Beauchamp Stearns Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts Boston, will speak on “Casanova’s Europe: Art, Pleasure and Power in the 18th Century.”

For more on travel, including a look at a collection of Venetian-inspired scents from Valmont, see the June issue of WAG, “Inspired Journeys.” For more on the organization, visit

– Mary Shustack

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