Landscape work aims to return Lyman Estate gardens to 1920s and '30s appearance
June 7, 2011
The energy efficiency and weatherization work at the Lyman Estate has created an opportunity for landscape restoration projects that aim to return the grounds to their 1920s and '30s appearance. Two major projects this spring included the recovery of a lost section path and the installation of a boxwood hedge to border the Peach Wall garden.
The choice to interpret more than two hundred years of landscape chronology in the seemingly narrow period of the 1920s to the late 1930s is not arbitrary. The period follows the last changes to the mansion and precedes the impact that the Hurricane of 1938 made on the landscape. It also coincides with the last Lyman patriarch to make his mark on the property, Arthur T. Lyman Jr., and includes the wonderful documentation of the estate found in the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) of 1935.
Historic New England staff researched Lyman family papers and photos and studied the HABS plans of the estate in order to understand the Lymans' intent for the landscape. We dug a few inches beneath the surface to find the original paths at the edge of the Peach Wall and rhododendron gardens, and removed non-historic plants. The gardens were re-organized to include new plants that had existed there during the Lymans' time. Ninth-grade volunteers from Minute Man Technical School in Lexington, Mass., spent half a day in the light rain planting 360 boxwoods to create the garden border. Landscape staff pruned older specimen trees and removed invasive trees. We hope to increase our volunteer invasive plant removal projects and to replant missing historic trees around the estate in the year to come.
The landscape restoration is not yet complete so stop by during the next several months to check our progress. The grounds and greenhouses are open free to the public year round.