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Catalog Data

Metropolitan District Commission  Search this
City of Cambridge  Search this
Hirschi, Jane  Search this
Beggy, Patricia  Search this
Koch, Carl  Search this
Renovation architect:
Design Partnership of Cambridge  Search this
Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001  Search this
Kepes, Juliet  Search this
Arai, Tomie  Search this
Collection Creator:
Garden Club of America  Search this
Archival materials
Digital images
Morse School Garden (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
United States of America -- Massachusetts -- Middlesex County -- Cambridge
Scope and Contents:
1 folder and 25 digital images. The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of reference prints and other images.
The Morse School is a Cambridge Modern style single-story modular structure with large windows and doors that open to the outdoors from individual classrooms, built in 1955. One-quarter acre of the schoolyard has gardens that are a major learning facility for the elementary school's students, and a resource for the neighborhood. The entry garden has a gravel path bordered on one side with raspberry bushes, with annual tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and cucumbers on the other side, and an open bed for digging dirt. A painted arbor opens to the main garden which features an alphabet garden along a chain link fence. Each year students plants annual flowers and vegetables for each letter, such as asters for "A" and zinnias for "Z". A pollinator garden attracts butterflies, other pollinating insects and birds with milkweed, Shasta daisies, geraniums, catmint, phlox, and grapevines growing on two trellises against the wall of the building. About ten beds of various sizes and shapes in the center of the main garden grow seasonal vegetables, beginning with leafy green vegetables, moving on to root crops such as carrots, potatoes and beets, followed by corn and peas and beans on a string trellis. There are two herb beds, more beds with strawberries, onions, sunflowers, cabbage, zucchini, chard, watermelon, and a companion planting of marigolds. Annual flowers are grown in two small whiskey barrels.
Other facilities include compost bins for food scraps and garden thinnings and a vibrantly painted shed for storing tools and supplies. A grassy gathering area has two fruit trees including an apple tree planted in the 1950's, and a large sycamore tree with six tree stumps nearby, seating for teaching, discussion, reading, singing and playing music. The community holds a Garden Expo in August and a cider pressing in October in the grassy gathering area. Age-appropriate curricula uses the gardens to teach urban children where food comes from, the life-cycle of growing plants, introductory botany and genetics. Other subject areas including art, math, food preparation and healthy eating derive from the students' gardening experiences.
CitySprouts, a local non-profit organization, partners with Morse School and provides workers, tools and garden supplies. CitySprouts has a plant list it recommends for garden-based learning along with suggestions for environmental subjects. Morse School had an empty front yard that was dug up and planted with red, white and blue spring bulbs in the shape of an American flag following September 11, 2001. The learning garden was developed afterwards.
Persons associated with the garden include Metropolitan District Commission (playground, Victory Garden, 1953- ); City of Cambridge (Morse School, 1953- ); Carl Koch (1912-1998) (architect, 1955); Design Partnership of Cambridge (renovation architects, 1999); Jane Hirschi, Director of City Sprouts (non-profit assisting in creating and maintaining school garden, 2001- ); Patricia Beggy (Morse school principal, 2004- ); Juliet and Gy├Ârgy Kepes (enamel panels artists, 1957); Tomie Arai (silk-screened mural artist, 1999).
Related Materials:
Additional materials also located in CitySprouts, 678 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139.
Collection Restrictions:
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens:
Collection Rights:
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
Gardens -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge  Search this
Digital images
Collection Citation:
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America collection.
AAG.GCA, File MA638
See more items in:
The Garden Club of America collection
The Garden Club of America collection / Series 1: United States Garden Images / Massachusetts
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Gardens