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Crowe was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, the daughter of Beatrice (née Stockton) and Eyre Crowe, a cabinet manufacturer. Her father retired early due to ill health and moved the family Felbridge, Sussex, to work as fruit farmer. Crowe attended Berkhamsted Girls' School, Hertfordshire from 1908 to 1912, and as a result of her suffering from tuberculosis she was also home schooled. She trained under Madeline Agar at Swanley Horticultural College (later absorbed into Hadlow College, which continues to teach University of Greenwich courses in garden design). She was President of the Institute of Landscape Architects (later the Landscape Institute) from 1957 to 1959 and made important contributions to landscape planning for new towns, roads, forestry and the landscape of power. Among her notable projects is the roof garden for the Scottish Widows building in Edinburgh, implemented using native Scottish plants.
In the mid-20th century Lower Soughton Hall at Northop in Flintshire belonged to the Gray family. In 1972, Stephen Alexander Reith Gray was Flintshire High Sheriff and Chief Executive of Shotton Steelworks. He commissioned Crowe and Raymond Cutbush to redesign the gardens and they remain much as they look today, with formal and informal features which includes herbaceous borders, yew hedges and island beds with mixed planting.
- CBE 1967; DBE 1973
- Associate Institute of Landscape Architects (ILA) 1934; Fellow ILA 1945
- Honorary Secretary of International Federation of Landscape Architecture (IFLA) 1949-54; Vice President IFLA 1954, 1962, 1964-1969; General Secretary IFLA 1956-59; Co-opted member of Council 1960-61
- President ILA 1957-59; Corresponding member of American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 1960; Acting President IFLA 1970; Chairman of Tree Council 1974-76
- Hon FRIBA 1969; Hon FRTPI 1970; Hon DLitt, Newcastle 1976; Hon DLitt, Heriot-Watt 1976; Hon LLD, Sussex 1978; Hon Fellow Australian Institute of Landscape Architects 1978; Hon Fellow Institute of Chartered Foresters 1984; LI Gold Medal 1986; American Society of Landscape Architects Medal 1988; RHS Victoria Medal of Honour 1990; Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Gold Medal 1990
- ‘Woman of the year’ AJ 1960
- Tomorrow’s Landscape. London: Architectural Press, 1956
- Garden Design. London: Country Life, 1956
- The Landscape of Power. London: Architectural Press, 1958
- The Landscape of Roads. London: Architectural Press, 1960
- Space for Living: Landscape Architecture and the Allied Professions (ed.) Amsterdam: Djambatan, 1961
- Shaping Tomorrow’s Landscape. Amsterdam: Djambatan, 1964
- Forestry in the Landscape. London: HMSO, 1966 (With Zvi Miller)
- Landscape Planning: A Policy for an Overcrowded World. Morges, Switzerland: IUCN, 1969
- The Landscape of Reservoirs. London: Association of River Authorities, 1969
- The Gardens of Mughul India a History and Guide. London, Thames and Hudson, 1972 (with Sheila Haywood, Susan Jellicoe and Gordon Patterson)
- The Pattern of Landscape. Chichester: Packard Publishing, 1988 (with Mary Mitchell)
- Staff (10 July 1997). "Dame Sylvia Crowe obituary". The Times. London, UK. p. 25 – via The Times Digital Archive 1785–2008.
- "Gardening - Design - Modern". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
- Hal Moggridge, "Crowe, Dame Sylvia" (1901–1997), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; accessed 8 October 2010.
- email@example.com. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- "Dame Sylvia Crowe" (PDF). Institute of Landscape Architects.
- Portraits: Women Designers, Digital Resource, brighton.ac.uk; accessed 22 March 2016.