Dame Sylvia Crowe was born in Oxfordshire in 1901. The family moved to Sussex, and after 1912 Sylvia spent much of her time on her parents' farm as ill health prevented her from attending school. She attended Swanley Horticultural College from 1920 to 1922 then worked as a garden designer. She won a gold medal at Chelsea in 1937. She served with the Polish army in France during World War 2, and entered private practice as an architect in 1945. In the late-1940s she worked on the green spaces in a number of new towns, and was later the consultant for a number of landscapes surrounding utilitarian buildings such as hospitals, training colleges, research stations and reservoirs. Particularly well-known are her landscapes at Rutland Water and the Commonwealth Institute in London.
Crowe was the first landscape consultant to the Forestry Commission from 1964. She had a profound impact on the apporach to commercial forestry, balancing commercial needs against the impact on landscape and wildlife. She received many honours for her work in the later-20th century and died in June 1997.
Hadfield, Miles, Robert Harling and Leonine Highton, British Gardeners: A Biographical Dictionary (London: A. Zwemmer Ltd., 1980), pp. 84-86.
Moggridge, Hal, ‘Crowe, Dame Sylvia (1901–1997)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/67305> [accessed 31 December 2007]
National Portrait Gallery, London, Search the Collections, 'Dame Sylvia Crowe (1901-1997), Landscape architect' <http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?LinkID=mp70976> [accessed 31 December 2007]