While taking a walk at Massacusetts Horticultural Society’s Elm Bank Reservation recently, I came across the sight of Weezie’s Children’s Garden, fenced off, in disarray, and full of heavy-duty equipment looking like it meant business. It all shouted out, “No fun to be had here,” to me. Considering things from a kid’s perspective, however, the garden in its current state of upheaval might actually be an improvement. Climbing over obstacles to get into someplace you’re not supposed to be is always fun. And what kid wouldn’t love to climb all over a front-end loader, working the steering wheel and stripping the gears?
Sorry, kids, such childhood fantasies must be tempered with adult notions of safety and education, however, and that’s the job of Katherine Macdonald, Executive Director of MassHort. She says the garden’s renovation will make the “…passive learning space into a more active garden for outdoor place-based youth education” through upgrading the aging exhibits.
She goes on to say that the 2015 installations will enable MassHort to work on water features, new points of entry/exit, hardscape, safety issues, pathways, exhibit panels, corresponding structures, furnishings, and an outdoor classroom. The horticultural society will also build upon themed garden beds with engaging, kid friendly landscape plants, new garden beds and teaching tools.
Designed by landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy, with the initial garden installation funding as well as the current two-year rehabilitation funds provided by the Weezie Foundation, the garden was intended to delight children and welcome them into a plant-filled environment where they could run around and explore. Indeed, the hardy plants and structures at Weezie’s Garden have taken plenty of wear-and-tear over the past decade-plus dished out by curious hands and heavy feet. I’ve watched my own kids play there for years and true, they were a bit rough on the original water-pump feature, a popular attraction that didn’t last long due to the combined efforts of many. But the giant birds nests have proven indestuctible, as has the hardscape in general. The twig fence is as sturdy as ever, and as for the plantings, the echinachea, honeysuckle, joe pye weed, herbs, shrubs, and trees come back year after year, epic snow notwithstanding.
The facelift will take advantage of all of the tried-and-true aspects of the garden that have survived the years of tough love and tougher winters while making room for improved education rooms and design areas that will include an Enchanted Woodland, a Tea Party Garden, a Pollinators Garden, Sandbox Archaeology, green arbors and plant tunnels, water features, and more.
Once the first part of the project is completed, Mass Hort will turn its attention to the second installment part of the project, scheduled to go forward in 2016. At that time, Mass Hort will consider other rustic structures, shed improvements, a green roof, new seating, art installations, potable water and additional exhibit supports.
Check out MassHort’s schedule of weekly classes, tours, walks and events at www.masshort.org
And go ahead and join Mass Hort while you’re at it. It’s a great way to support its mission of advancing the art and science of gardening and horticulture, all for a mere $55 for an individual membership.
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