Celebrating and protecting Fallingwater and its setting
The year 2005 marked the 70th anniversary of the day Frank Lloyd Wright first put pencil to paper and produced the revolutionary design for a mountain retreat that quickly became one of the most famous houses of all time. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy continues to develop new ways to experience the masterwork and, in 2005, added two new specialized tours. A Sunset Tour combines a late-afternoon, in-depth tour of the house and grounds, led by the senior interpretive staff, with outdoor refreshments. Focus Tours allow visitors to tour Fallingwater with a member of the curatorial staff, then share a private lunch and lively conversation about Fallingwater’s history.
In 2005, the WPC began implementing a landscape masterplan for the area that surrounds Fallingwater. A major goal of this plan is the removal of various invasive plant species including English ivy, wisteria, bush honeysuckle and winged euonymus (burning-bush), which have escaped from cultivation on the grounds into the forest surrounding the Fallingwater house and threaten a number of native trees, other plants and wildlife.
Last year, volunteers spent more than 600 hours working on Fallingwater’s landscape. Two summer landscape interns, whose positions were funded by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, led the charge working on the Guest House hillside by removing invasives, trimming the native rhododendrons and preparing the area for replanting with more native species. In addition to their work with invasives, interns and volunteers replaced the poison ivy patch near the servants’ sitting room with less troublesome native plants, undertook native plant rescue and tended the new plantings, among other projects on site. Unfortunately, invasive removal is not a finite project, but requires ongoing effort and vigilance.
“We hope that the restoration of the landscape will demonstrate to our visitors the beauty and variety of the native plant palette and encourage them to look to natives for their own gardens,” says Fallingwater’s Director and WPC Vice President Lynda Waggoner. “What better place than Fallingwater, with its remarkable marriage of site and building, to demonstrate both a new ecological aesthetic and deeper ecological understanding.”