In the effort to increase public knowledge about the importance of historic landscapes, hundreds of exceptional gardens nationwide are selected to participate in The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. This year, the Mary M. B. Wakefield Charitable Trust has partnered with the Conservancy to organize “the Greater Boston Area Open Days” on Saturday, June 8, from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Five distinct Milton gardens will be showcased, offering visitors a diverse range of designed landscapes.
The Wakefield Estate is the former home of Mary “Polly” Wakefield (1914-2004), a trained horticulturist, landscape designer, plant propagator and collector, and an advocate and leader on many environmental issues of her day. Her vision for the purpose of the Wakefield Estate was to “organize to re-establish the contact between the land and the people.” An active member and trustee of many garden and volunteer organizations, Polly was especially passionate about the revival of the Public Garden in Boston. As a founding member of the Friends of the Public Garden, Polly was instrumental in restoring one of Boston’s most beautiful landmarks to its original glory.
One of the strong themes in Polly’s life was her avid interest in science and nature, both observing and studying it. Polly continually augmented her knowledge, accumulating a broad understanding of arboriculture and propagation methods, ultimately leading to her development, selection and naming of eight patented dogwood cultivars, including “Greensleeves” and “Fanfare”, two of the most highly praised dogwood cultivars today. She strived to create a formal garden that defied formality and convention, tested nature’s limits and embraced whimsy and a bit of the wild. An innovator when it came to sustainable gardening methods, she deliberately “crowded” her plants, remarking that “nature prefers it this way,” adding that “it eliminates much weeding … while giving it a more natural appearance and retaining a more even degree of natural moisture.”
The Open Days program coincides with the kick-off of the Wakefield Estate’s annual “Dogwood Days” – a week-long celebration of the estate’s hundreds of flowering kousa dogwood trees. Dogwood Days, which runs from June 8–14, 10am – 4pm daily, features tours, open gardens, and a tree and plant sale including kousa dogwoods, Japanese maples, river birches, eastern red buds, paper bark maples, metasequoias, and larches. New this year is “Dogs and Dogwoods,” a day to bring your canine friend to the estate for dog-friendly events, including a fun and informal dog show. “Dogs and Dogwoods” is scheduled for Sunday, June 9th, from 10am-4pm. The dog show will start at 1:00pm. Dogs must be leashed.
The Wakefield Estate in located at 1465 Brush Hill Road in Milton. For more information visit www.wakefieldtrust.org or call 617-333-0924. To see a list of the Open Days selected gardens and directions, see The Garden Conservancy’s website: www.gardenconservancy.org.
Guest Post by Erica Max
Program Director, Mary M.B. Wakefield Charitable Trust