Monthly Archives: April 2015

APRIL SHOWERS AND MAY FLOWERS: THE GARDENS OF THE NORTH OF BOSTON (PART II)

Flowers - Stevens-Coolidge Place, North Andover

Stevens-Coolidge Place, North Andover

 

Earlier this month, we introduced you to one of the North of Boston region’s best hidden treasures – its numerous gardens!  As we get further into the spring and closer to the peak garden season, here are three more floral gems to visit as you navigate the region’s living history…

Photo by Leah Jones

Photo by Leah Jones

Ropes Mansion Garden
318 Essex Street, Salem
Gardens open year-round

Behind the Colonial Revival-styled Ropes Mansion in Salem’s McIntire Historic District lies a not-so-hidden secret: a formal garden.  Originally built in the Georgian style in 1727, the mansion underwent a Colonial Revival-inspired renovation in 1894.  In 1912, a garden was laid out to reflect the home’s new style.  Surrounding a central sundial, the paths of the garden lead you through grounds displaying a vast array of roses, hydrangea, and delphinium, as well as plenty of benches to relax on and a stocked koi pond.  Fun Fact – Don’t be surprised if the Ropes Mansion looks a little familiar upon your visit.  It was filmed as one of the characters’ homes in the movie “Hocus Pocus.”  (Thank you to the Salem Inn for additional information on this garden).

Atkinson Common fountains - NewburyportAtkinson Common
390 High Street, Newburyport

A popular backdrop for weddings, proms, and family photos, the gardens at Atkinson Common are a Newburyport staple.  In the 1870s, an open field off of High Street was left to the City of Newburyport.  The local families of the Belleville neighborhood worked to convert this blank canvas into a public park and garden and thus the Belleville Improvement Society was born.  For over 100 years, the Society has continued to preserve, maintain, and improve Atkinson Common, with its winding walkways, elaborate gardens, historic gazebo ,and lily pond.

The Common also features a Civil War statue and Soldier and Sailors Tablets to commemorate Newburyport’s Civil War veterans as well as a 50-foot stone observation tower.

Garden - Stevens-Coolidge Place, North AndoverStevens-Coolidge Place
137 Andover Street, North Andover
Gardens open daily, year-round, 8am-sunset.
Home closed to public with the exception of special tours and events

Inspired by the luscious gardens of Europe, the property formerly known as Ashdale Farm transformed into a chic, elegant estate under the care of Helen Stevens.  In the family since the early 1700s and farmed for generations, the property was inherited by Ms. Stevens and underwent a long transformation after she and her new husband, John Gardner Coolidge, made the farm their summer home around 1914.  Stevens, from one of North Andover’s founding families, and Coolidge, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and the nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner, were inspired by their travels around the world.  The country house, redesigned by Joseph Chandler (who, as we mentioned in our earlier post, had previously laid out the Seaside Gardens at the House of the Seven Gables), featured art and furniture from the couple’s trips around the world (Coolidge served as a diplomat in Mexico, Nicaragua, Europe, and Asia).  For the gardens, though, Helen Stevens and Joseph Chandler looked specifically towards France.

Featuring numerous perennials, roses, informal shrubs, herbs, fruit trees, and potted greenhouse plants, the gardens recall a French Chateau.  Organized into outdoor “rooms,” the gardens were meant to have a feeling of  “…simplicity and an indescribable air of peace,” according to Chandler.

Upon Helen Stevens Coolidge’s death in 1962, the property was left to the Trustees of Reservations who renamed it the Stevens-Coolidge Place to honor its former owners.  Admission to the property is free (on-site donations welcome).  While visiting the gardens, you may catch a glimpse of the many butterflies and birds attracted to the wide array of plants and flowers.  Foxes, owls, hawks, and frogs have also been known to visit the property as well.  On Fridays and Saturdays, in July and August, visitors are invited to purchase bouquets in the pick-your-own Cutting Garden.

April “Staycation”

Why spend April vacation in front of the TV when there’s so much to do and to explore?  The North of Boston region offers a myriad of awesome Vacation Week activities for kids of all ages – here are just a few of the fun things to do during April vacation (to check out more events, visit our school vacation calendar of events).

lil' cow - Appleton Farms, IpswichDig In! Farmer for a Week at Appleton Farms
April 21-23
Perfect for ages 9-12

Dig into the farm and roll up your sleeves in the kitchen! Discover how delicious food grows on the farm and ends up on your plate every day. Follow the life cycle of a plant from seed to harvest, learn how a cow can turn green grass into creamy milk, meet our farmers and much more. Get a taste of our Appleton Cooks! program as we take our fresh ingredients and prepare a scrumptious and healthy lunch in our farm kitchen every day.  Please call 978-356- 5728 ext.18 for more details.

earth-day-1024x450April Vacation Week Fun at the Wenham Museum
April 22-26

The Wenham Museum has week of April Vacation Fun planned for kids of all ages. Learn about reuse and recycling while creating recycled art and engaging in other outdoor activities during the Earth Day Celebration. Have your silhouette created by artist Carol Lebeaux or make your own art as you create your own character in your very own four-page story. Don’t miss their Frozen: The Real Story of Ice on Wenham Lake exhibit – from a sock-skating rink, fun, child-size ice house, and costumes too dress up like your favorite “Frozen” characters, this exhibit is too cool to miss!

Waterslide-cocokeySplash into vacation at CoCo Key!

Many deals and packages available for families to enjoy a fun day of swimming, slides, and more at Massachusetts’ largest indoor water park, CoCo Key.  With the “Family Four Pack,” families save up to $30 on day passes.  Or, buy one pass, get one free on “Thrifty Thursdays” (offer valid 4-9pm).


owl_birchbarkLet it Grow – School Vacation Week at the Peabody Essex Museum
April 21-23

Spread your branches to celebrate the return of spring and join the Peabody Essex Museum’s Earth Day festivities!  Enjoy art-making, demonstrations, and so much more!  Make your own paper or even learn to “leaves”drop on the inner (secret!) life of trees!

UntitledApril Vacation at the Cape Ann Museum
April 21-25
Ages 3-12

Join the Cape Ann Museum Activity Center for a great week of programs for kids of all ages!  Explore poetry and painting, learn about the many types of fish native to Cape Ann, make your own stamps,  and much, much more!  Click here for an event flyer and more information.  These programs are FREE for children (with the purchase of adult admission).

Exploring the North of Boston Region

Now that spring is here, why not go out and discover all that the North of Boston region has to offer? Our itineraries page features four fantastic self-guided itineraries to help you explore every nook and cranny of the region, discovering hidden gems, historical treasures, and much more on your journey.  These itineraries are great for first-time visitors wanting to soak in as much as the region as possible or seasoned natives who want to seasoned natives eager to delve into the treasures of their own back yards.

Schooner Lannon credit SAPearson

Schooner Lannon, Gloucester

Cape Ann – Sandy beaches, picturesque lighthouses, whale watches, great seafood, a thriving arts community, and historic harbors are waiting for you on Cape Ann.  Explore its four communities – Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester-by-the-Sea – as you navigate up routes 128 or 133.

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GauntSquare - Methuen

Gaunt Square, Methuen

Merrimack Valley – This western part of the region is rich with industrial history – from the humming mills of Lawrence to the former “Shoe Queen City of the World,” Haverhill – and bursting with creativity, great shopping, numerous festivals, and fantastic food.

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House of the 7 Gables - Salem. Photo by Brand USA

House of the 7 Gables, Salem. (Photo by Brand USA)

Greater Salem – From the Salem Witch Trials to the birth of the US Navy, National Guard, and marshmallow fluff, history is just one jewel in the crown of the Greater Salem area.  See a Broadway-style show, explore a 200-year-old Chinese house, view an expansive toy and doll collection, or spend your day at the country’s oldest agricultural fair as you tour this rich, multifaceted area.

Newburyport_MG_6193 MOTT

Market Square, Newburyport. (Photo by MOTT)

Greater Newburyport – Just a hop over the New Hampshire border, the Greater Newburyport area welcomes you with.  Enjoy beachfront dining and arcades, unique shopping, ample birding opportunities, numerous orchards and seasonal picking, historic harbors, and more historic homes than anywhere else in the country.

April Showers and May Flowers: The Gardens of the North of Boston (Part I)

AOJ-GablesGarden

Visiting the North of Boston region this spring and summer?  We’ll let you in on a little-known secret – one of the region’s best hidden treasures may be right under your feet.  And now that spring is (finally) here, and the snow is melting away, we can once again enjoy these beautiful, scenic, and incredibly photogenic gems – gardens!  Scattered throughout the North of Boston, these gardens reflect the history and beauty of the region.  Each garden has a unique story to tell, so while you’re in the region this spring, why not visit…

Willowdale garden - Topsfield, MA. Photo by Kristina SmithWillowdale Estate
24 Asbury Street, Topsfield MA

Set in the center of the North of Boston region, the Willowdale Estate is a 4-acre estate located in the spacious Bradley Palmer State Park.  Constructed in 1901 as the summer home of Bradley Palmer, Willowdale is a gem of subtle elegance and great charm.  It is a marvelous venue for weddings and its beautiful garden makes for the perfect backdrop for your outdoor event.   Maintained by the extremely talented Kim, the garden is a picturesque butterfly-attracting wonderland.  Willowdale offers a series of great events; including cooking classes, a Halloween party, and free house tours; throughout the year.  While you are visiting the estate, be sure to take a walk through the garden

Gables flowersSeaside Gardens – The House of the Seven Gables
115 Derby Street, Salem MA
Open year-round

The House of the Seven Gables is a literary and historical landmark that attracts visitors from around the world, but it’s the Gables’ Seaside Gardens that invites visitors to stay a little longer after their tour.  The Gardens reflect four centuries of planting schemes and hearken back to plantings of the Colonial era.  The garden beds were laid out by a landscape architect, Joseph Chandler, hired by the Gables’ founder Caroline Emmerton in 1909.  Emmerton wanted the gardens to be an “oasis of beauty” enjoyed by all and was fastidious in regards to the gardens’ maintenance (these high standards are still in practice today).  The gardens feature a rose trellis, delphinium, sweet William, chrysanthemums, impatiens, lavender, santolina, a Wisteria Arbor, and many more beautiful plants, herbs, and flowers.  Most prominent are the lilacs whose unobtrusive color and lilting scent set the serene environment of the garden.

Gate in Long Hill garden - BeverlySedgwick Gardens – Long Hill
572 Essex Street, Beverly MA
Open daily, year-round, 8am-5pm.  Guided tours offered in the spring, summer, and fall.

Long Hill is a 114-acre property purchased by publisher Ellery Sedgwick in 1916.  Sedgwick’s wife, Mabel, was a talented gardener and horticulturist with an ambitious green thumb who designed a whimsical landscape which continues to inspire 100 years later.  The Sedgwick Gardens are laid out very much like a house – each section is a separate “room,” if you will, with its own distinct features and decoration.  After Mabel Sedgwick’s death in 1937, the gardens were enhanced by the second Mrs. Sedgwick who had an extensive knowledge of rare and exotic plants (Mr. Sedgwick had a thing for green thumbs, apparently…).  Fun Fact: Does the last name sound a little familiar?  Ellery Sedgwick’s older brother’s (Henry Dwight Sedgwick) great-granddaughter is actress Kyra Sedgwick.  And thus, Long Hill is only a few degrees away from Kevin Bacon.

lynch park garden-CH-SUMMER OF 2008 007Rose Garden – Lynch Park
Beverly, MA
Open daily, Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8am-10pm

The 16 acres known today as David S. Lynch Memorial Park were originally known as Woodbury’s Point.  With its seven-gun battery, the fort at Woodbury’s Point was an important location to keep Beverly’s port safe and secure – after the British troops closed Boston Harbor, the coastal town of Beverly had become an important port from which to cut off British supply lines.  By the 20th century, Beverly had become a posh location for Boston’s wealthy to spend their summers.  Many luxurious summer homes were built and Woodbury’s Point became Burgess Point.  The Evans family built one of the finest summer estates on the North Shore on Burgess Point and one of their cottages was rented by none other than President Taft during the summers of 1909 and 1910.  Apparently, Mrs. Evans was not fond of the hoopla and bustle surrounding her celebrity tenant and informed the President that the summer of 1910 would be his last on her property as she was taking down the cottage and putting an Italian rose garden in its place.  President Taft moved to a summer home on Corning Street, the cottage was moved to Marblehead, and the rose garden, with its gorgeous imported plants and shrubs, still stands today.

But wait, you may ask, who was David S. Lynch and where does he come into this story?  Lynch never actually lived at Burgess Point – he was the owner of a leather factory who wanted to make sure that everyone in Beverly had a beautiful outdoor place to visit and enjoy.  When he died in 1942, he left $400,000 to the Lynch Park Board of Trustees to buy and maintain a public park.  At that time, Burgess Point was owned by Beverly Hospital, who found the land expensive to keep up and happily sold it to the LPBoT for $50,000.  The hospital was happy to have the land off its hands and the city of Beverly had a splendid piece of land for everyone to enjoy.