The Hills Garden Club of Wellesley (HGCW), in conjunction with the town’s Park & Tree Division, has almost completed a labyrinth located to the west side of Clock Tower Park, located at 201 Washington St. in Wellesley Hills. The project interweaves stone and grass within the existing ground plane to create a contemplative, low‐maintenance space. The labyrinth, which was approved by the Design Review Board in October 2017, will include a Victorian-style bench and is Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
The 55-member Club has a long history of fundraising to maintain the National Register of Historic Places site. Over the years they’ve ponied up to enable the installation of trees, shrubs, perennials, and hardscaping such as the brick path and iron fencing. But it’s not all about the money. The HGCW is a working club. If your timing is just right, you can see club members, sleeves rolled up and gardening gloves on, helping out a Department of Public Works crew each year with summer clean-ups, fall bulb planting, and general help in maintaining and preserving what is their main civic project.
According to the Labyrinth Guild of New England, “In its simplest form the labyrinth is a walking meditative path. It can be used individually as an alternative to sitting meditation. Because it requires no figuring out, one can simply walk, allow the mind to quiet, and let the body take over. There are no rules, there is no right or wrong way. ” To encourage a metaphor here, just jump in anywhere on the path and perhaps you’ll find yourself meditating about your own life path as you walk the design. There are no tricks, no puzzle to decode, no minotaur demanding answers to arcane riddles. Once you’re in, the path simply takes you to the center and back out again. Sort of like the showroom floor at Jordan’s Furniture.
The idea for a labyrinth began during a club board meeting. HGCW member Connie Walkingshaw spearheaded the labyrinth project along with Town of Wellesley Landscape Planner Cricket Vlass. The Club earmarked funds from their 2015 Garden Tour to pay for the project. Deb Robi, publicity chair for the club said “Our club’s board and membership conceived of the idea and raised the funds for the project” mainly through the 2015 HGCW Garden Tour of four properties in Wellesley. Club members Lucy Lynch, Cynthia Ballantyne, and HGCW president Meribeth Harrington rounded out the project leadership.
The Club then approached the Town with the idea. “They had asked me to present some ideas for…Clock Tower Park landscape improvements that had begun in 2002 as a partnership between the garden club, the Department of Public Works, the Natural Resources Committee and eventually funded in part by Community Preservation Coalition,” Vlass said. “The WHGW really wanted to float the idea of building a labyrinth. I was gob-smacked as it had been a dream of mine for many years to create a public labyrinth and thought I was alone with the crazy thought. I should have known better! The club members love the park, are committed to enlivening the space and are dreamers with their feet firmly planted there. We were in accord and have been working together since to make it reality.”
The NRC approved the project with the stipulation that it be located adjacent to the west end pillars. Once NRC approval was in place, Vlass designed the labyrinth structure working directly with the club regarding design and location.
The Club has provided $8,730.00 to fund the materials and labor. Paul DePhillips and Tony Ferro from the Park & Tree Division are building it.
“The club has not requested a sign however, if we perceive a need, the option will be discussed. Honestly, I’m hoping that the concept of a labyrinth is well known enough and self-explanatory in nature that a sign will not be required,” Vlass said.
A completion date has not been pinned down. Attempts to start the project in late fall were stymied by the weather so now the Town is trying to get it done in within the very demanding constraints of the spring schedule realities. The cobbles must be installed and then soil will be brought in to fill between the cobbles. Next, the area will be sodded. A stone dust path and a Victorian bench will complete the project.
Did you know that there are two other labyrinths (that we know of) in Wellesley? Pictures below…