Nearly a year ago, now, I got a request through the blog for more information about the early 1960s landscape, about which little (so far!) has been written. It was for a film, for the exterior setting of a ranch house in the American South in which lived a couple with one young child and one on the way and who were aspiring to social status. This was the house:
The foundation plantings are right but they would have been new and raw in 1960; small and tentative, as aspirational as the couple in the house. One of the most telling features of the landscape is actually the pole light; its white cap is just visible in the above photo near the front door. Lighting not just the house but the yard was definitely a luxury, and became a tell-tale sign of class in the 1950s. Watch for it in the movie; the set designers appropriately show the light emphasized with garish annuals around its base.
I also recommended some newly planted rose bushes surrounded by box...Jacqueline Kennedy had renovated and replanted the White House Rose Garden in the early 1960s and her influence on American women was pervasive. You can see the rose garden in the first part of the Kennedy home movie below. But that recommendation didn't make it into the movie.
(for a look at the White House gardens over time, see the lovely series of historical photographs of the Rose Garden (the West garden) and the East Garden at the White House museum.)
So I sent this advice, and promptly forgot about it. But the movie has just been released…it was The Help, about the struggles of the black women who worked in the households of well-to-do whites in Jim Crow Mississippi.