Waltham’s Lyman Estate Showcased Modern English Landscape

In nineteenth century Dorchester, Mass, which is now part of Boston, Marshall Wilder (1798-1886) cultivated an extensive pear orchard which at one time contained 2500 trees. He gave us the Anjou pear.

He also grew 300 varieties of camellias.

With such a list of credentials it is no surprise that from 1841-1848 he served  as president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and was one of the founders of the American Pomological Society.

In his book, The Horticulture of Boston and Vicinity, published in 1881, Wilder commented on many gardens within the Boston area.

The Lyman Estate in Waltham, Mass.

He called the Lyman Estate in Waltham, built in 1793,  “the best example of modern landscape gardening in the country.”  Wilder used the English expression which had emerged from the eighteenth century called ‘modern’ to refer to the new version of landscape that was more naturalistic and less formal.  That, of couse, included an extensive lawn which you can still see at the Lyman Estate.

Phyllis Anderson, ASLA, a landscape historian and the former director of the Institute for Cultural Landscape Studies of the Arnold Arboretum, once wrote “The Boston area is unique in the depth of its resouces for study and research in the history of landscape design and horticulture.”

Lyman’s estate presented an early example of English garden design in the Boston area.  Decades later the popular Dorchester nurseryman Marshall Wilder recognized that design as important for American gardening.

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