Born in Washington, D.C., M. Meade Palmer majored in landscape architecture at Cornell University. After his graduation in 1939, he worked at the Arlington County, Virginia, Department of Planning. From 1941-1942 he interned with landscape architect Charles Gillette. Palmer served in the South Pacific during World War II, and upon returning he opened a landscape architecture firm in Warrenton, Virginia. In 1961, Palmer helped found the University of Virginia’s Department of Landscape Architecture, where he taught planting design and plant identification for much of his career.
Palmer’s minimalist designs incorporated traditional materials and sought to provide historical and spatial context. His work emphasized detailed planting design, and took advantage of the plethora of native species in the Washington, D.C. region. He designed a number of notable spaces including Bull Run Regional Park, the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove, Mount Rogers State Park, and Carter’s Grove Country Road.
Palmer was well-recognized for his accomplishments. He was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1958 and received awards including the Allied Professions Award and the American Society of Landscape Architects Medal. After his death, the M. Meade Palmer Medal for outstanding achievements in landscape architecture was created in his honor.