Landscape work aims to return Lyman Estate gardens to 1920s and ’30s appearance

Jun 7, 2011

The energy efficiency andweatherization 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. Twomajor 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 thelate 1930s is not arbitrary. The periodfollows the last changes to the mansion and precedes the impact that theHurricane of 1938 made on the landscape. It also coincides with the last Lyman patriarch to make his markon the property, Arthur T. Lyman Jr., and includes the wonderful documentationof the estate found in the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) of 1935.

Historic New England staff researched Lyman family papersand photos and studied the HABS plans of the estate in order to understand theLymans’ intent for the landscape. We duga few inches beneath the surface to find the original paths at the edge of the Peach Wall and rhododendrongardens, and removed non-historic plants. The gardens were re-organized to include new plants that had existed there during the Lymans’time. Ninth-grade volunteersfrom Minute ManTechnical Schoolin Lexington, Mass.,spent half a day in the light rain planting 360 boxwoods to createthe garden border. Landscape staff pruned older specimen trees and removed invasivetrees. We hope to increase our volunteerinvasive plant removal projects and to replant missing historic trees aroundthe estate in the year to come.

The landscape restoration is not yet complete sostop by during the next several months to check our progress. Thegrounds and greenhouses are open free to the public year round.