I have really really good news, and I know many of the customers we shared with the late renowned horticulturist, Allen C. Haskell, will be especially delighted to read this: Allen’s 6 acre New Bedford MA property will once again be open to visitors. The Massachusetts land trust organization, the Trustees of Reservations, purchased the property from the Haskell family in 2013. Under the Trustees stewardship, with Kristen de Souza at the helm as Superintendent of the Haskell property, the gardens and grounds are being restored and reinvented as the Allen C. Haskell Public Garden. The official opening day is Oct 26, 2014.
I spoke with Ross Moran, Southeast Engagement Manager for the Trustees, about what has transpired since the transfer of ownership and what is planned for the future. Utile Inc. along with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects of Boston were brought in as design/planning consultants. The gardens at the front of the property remain as they were. Gone is the nursery area and several of the big greenhouses. In their place is an expanse of newly planted lawn, known as the Common, which will be an area for children’s play, picnics, and performances. Some of the space will be allocated for parking. The glasshouses are still there, but it has not been decided yet how they will be used.
The gardens were in need of an overhaul (as any gardener will tell you, it doesn’t take long for plantings to get out of control) and there was much pruning, pruning, (did I say pruning?), thinning, transplanting, and weeding. In less than a year, Kristen de Souza, along with her seasonal staff and volunteers, accomplished so much. Many wonderful aged specimens remain on the property, including Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood), Acer palmatum and griseum (Japanese and Paperbark Maple) and the pruning has given them new life. The bluestone walks, cobble and stone work still provide excellent bones for the landscape.
The charming small brick buildings, covered with Ivy and Parthenocissus, will be repurposed as a visitor center, the superintendents office, and much needed rest rooms. The Hathaway House, where Allen last lived, will serve as the superintendent’s residence, and the other home on the property may be rented. Plans are to use some of the greenhouses for teaching gardening techniques.
You will also be delighted to know that Gene Bertrand, Allen’s long time partner and nursery manager, has been brought on as an advisor. The engaging Gene will be on hand on Opening Day to give one of several guided tours.
More about the Opening Day festivities: Date/time: Oct 26, 2014 from 11am-3pm. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be at 11:30 am and the staff , volunteers, donors and stakeholders will be recognized for their contributions. The afternoon promises music for varied tastes: performances by the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (classical), the Jethros, (lively, feel good music), and even a local hip hop artist. Gourmet food trucks will be on hand. There are numerous childrens activities planned.
The Allen C. Haskell Public Garden will be open year round, although winter hours may be more limited. If you can’t make it to the opening, plan to visit another time. For those of you who have never been, it is located at 787 Shawmut Ave. New Bedford MA. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest information.