Two Tour Gardens Illustrate Garden History

Two tour gardens illustrate garden history.

Recently I visited two gardens on a garden tour in Milton, Massachusetts. The Garden Conservancy featured these gardens as part of its Boston Area Open Day program.

Each garden offered something special for anyone interested in garden history.

The first garden at a home on Blue Hill Avenue dates to the 1920s.  This garden is the work of the famous early twentieth century landscape designer Ellen Biddle Shipman (1869-1950).

Shipman’s signature feature has to be integrating the house and garden. She succeeded in the Milton garden by including an axis that lures the visitor out from the house’s patio across the lawn into the walled garden. [below]

The garden also illustrates how Shipman combined both the formal and the wild garden.

She designed it at a time when people began to look on the garden as an outside room.

 

Shipman Garden

Milton, Mass. garden designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman

I was happy to see that the current owner has been devoted to restoring the Shipman garden as close as possible to the original plan, which was available for visitors to see that day.

The second Milton garden, the Wakefield Estate, dates to the Colonial period in American history. John Davenport purchased the property in 1706 as a rural homestead. He built the farmhouse that you can still see today.

Later Boston merchant Isaac Davenport built the mansion in 1794.

Kousa dogwood trees cover the terraces. Several of these trees are descendants of specimens growing at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum.  The canopy of dogwood blooms everywhere took my breath away that afternoon. [below]

Dogwood blooms have covered this walkway at the Wakefield Estate for decades.

The Wakefield Estate reflects the generations of owners of this property. There are several kinds of gardens included here, each reflecting what was important to gardeners at a particular time in American history.

Thus you will see a kalmia garden, a fountain terrace, a rose garden, an orchard, and even a Norway maple tree allee.

Both gardens presented something special. That of course is the reason we visit gardens on a tour – to enjoy a garden that we might not otherwise see.

These two, the Biddleman and the Wakefield garden, both reflect a bit of garden history in the Boston area.

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