Lost Gardens of New England

Explore the rich heritage of garden design

Narrated by Laura Carlo

Lost Gardens of New England invites you to consider the region’s rich heritage of garden design. Drawn from an exhibition of highlights from Historic New England’s Library and Archives collections, these images illustrate the major themes of American landscape history. New England gardens of the colonial period and the New Republic were influenced by English design, both the naturalistic and the ancient or “geometric” styles.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, a distinctive American style emerged. It embraced the native picturesque landscape while seeking, through design, to tame and refine the national character. Shortly before 1900, New Englanders turned to history for inspiration, and created a wide variety of revival gardens.

The images in this exhibition reflect the most impermanent of the design arts, capturing each garden at a single moment in time. In many cases, these views are the only record of a specific garden’s existence. Today, some of the gardens are parking lots, other lie in ruins. Some have the potential for renewal. The images, however, preserve the legacy of New England’s landscapes and provide inspiration to all who view them.

More to Explore

Explore highlights from Historic New England's photography collection.

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Make an appointment to visit the Library and Archives in Boston.

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See a list of Historic New England exhibitions on view.

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