A thick blanket of snow has fallen over the newly planted gardens at Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens, providing some much needed insulation against sweeping winds and the freezing and thawing cycles that come with New England winters. Settling in beneath the snow are hundreds of new plants and tens of thousands of bulbs awaiting the arrival of spring so that they can add their glory to the already beautiful gardens of this special place.
In the new parking area off Chickering Road we have created meadowy-borders that connect both visually and physically with the grassy meadow beyond; serve functionally as part of the storm water system; and signal a horticultural influence that hints at the gardens beyond. These Entry Garden plantings are meant to be showy and colorful throughout the year but most especially during the height of summer when coneflowers, mountain mints, beebalm, swamp milkweed, and swamp mallow shine exuberantly. In late summer asters, joe-pye weed, ironweed, and culvers-root will add to the floral display and provide important resources for pollinators.
Among the many plants added this fall were more than 160,000 spring blooming bulbs. Vibrant mixes of tulips, fritillaries, daffodils, summer snowflakes, hyacinths, and minor bulbs will fill nooks and crannies in from the new entry garden beds to the French Garden, and in every garden in between including the curved faces of the new landforms in Helen’s Meadow.
In the French Garden, unique combinations of tulips, daffodils, and fritillaries intermingle in bands of color starting with a combination we affectionately call ‘Hello Yellow’. This mix of yellow flowered bulbs with names like ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’, ‘Moonlight Sensation’, Budlight, and ‘Maxima Lutea’ will glow next to a planting of bulbs with lovely pink and peach hues we call ‘Sunrise Mix’. In this mix, tulips and daffodils bear names like ‘Pink Wonder’, ‘Sensual Touch’, and ‘Orange Princess’, to name just a few. Not surprisingly, we named our third mix ‘Sunset Mix’ and combined deep apricots with oranges and vibrant reds. Here bulbs with enticing names like ‘Love Call’, ‘Electrus’, and ‘Candy Princess’ contain deeper apricots, pinks and oranges. A band of mixed shades of twilight blue and purple hyacinths lines the long central path bathing pedestrians in heavenly fragrance.
The new Promenade leading to the main house, now planted with matched pairs of flowering dogwood trees (Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess’), will showcase pristine white tulips, daffodils, and summer snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’) set in undulating ribbons among a seas of woodland phlox (Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’), blue squill (Scilla siberica), and glory of the snow (Chionodoxa forbesii).
What else can you expect? In the old, linear cut flower beds we have selected mixes of tulips in vibrant shades of yellow, red, and orange. Names like “Volta”, “Carnaval”, and “Merry Go Round” hint at the exuberant flower colors waiting to burst open in spring. The Rose Garden will shimmer elegantly with tulips in shades of violet and a soft salmony-pink, intermingled with fragrant hyacinths. The Perennial Garden will be highlighted with tulips in yellow, white, and purple. The new Cutting Garden will showcase custom blends of tulips and daffodils in a variety of shades from maroon to salmon, purples and creamy whites, apricots and oranges. A more subtle combination of colors will occur on the landforms which rise from Helen’s Meadow and arc gently to form subtle crescents. On the interior face of each crescent, a wave-like pattern of grape hyacinths (Muscari sp.) in shades of blue and white will create an artful display which overlaps with narcissus and tulips elsewhere in the gardens.
You get the idea – color, color everywhere! We can’t wait to share this with you in late April and early May. Keep watching this blog and our social media feeds for updates as the bloom extravaganza approaches. And stay tuned to learn more about the many plants included in all of the gardens at Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens.