United States of America, Massachusetts, Middlesex, Cambridge
Muffin's Garden (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Located off a cul-de-sac in the heart of Cambridge on approximately a quarter acre of land, Muffin's Garden is intimate and secluded. Muffin's Garden was installed in 1963. The current owner had little experience in gardening when the property was initially purchased and has guided the evolving design over fifty years. The garden had been laid out by the wife of local architect David Barns in the late thirties. The tall pink dogwood, katsura, and huge yew were present when the current owners moved in.
In 1984, the owners worked with landscape architect Alice Page Pickman. Pickman's plans show the redesign of the front entry, a new approach to the front door, a new home for the fountain with a large planting bed, and a new walkway, with plant recommendations. From 1995 to 1999, landscape designer Patricia Pratt supplied bulbs, plant material, and provided consultation. A pool was added with the pedestal fountain resettled within it, and the surrounding beds were reorganized and replanted. Caprizzi and Co. created curving bluestone edging around the pool and capped the "Radcliffe" wall with bluestone. The rock garden was begun and the whole garden redefined in a series of ordered spaces. In 2005, landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy sketched the design for the oval stone patio in the woodland garden.
The property is a long, irregular rectangle on an east/west axis and the house is located at its eastern edge. The garden is linear in shape, defined in English style by a series of "rooms" that flow informally from one to another. Ornamental pots, shallow steps, or the break in a wall mark the transitions between areas. The pool and fountain were designed to be viewed from the breakfast room. The entertaining and sitting areas on the terrace are easily accessed through the drawing room. The lawn area transitions to a bluestone path and onto Messervy's oval bluestone terrace set in the woodland and rock garden.
Trees are a determining feature of the garden, as nearly half the area behind the house is woodland. There are towering maples, hawthorn, hemlock, white pines, two katsura, tree-sized yews, and specimen trees such as stewartia, silverbell, magnolia, and swarf Japanese maples. As a result of the number of trees on the property, shade tolerant shrubs, bulbs, and plants have been carefully selected. Rhododendron, mountain laurel, hollies, viburnums, and Japanese pieris border the property.
Garden features include benches, bulbs, wooden fences, ferns, flower beds, foundation planting, garden borders, garden walks, gates, patios, ponds, retaining walls, rock gardens, shrubs, sheds, sculptures, stepping stones, terraces, urban gardens, stone walkways, walls, woodland gardens, and woodlands.
Persons associated with the garden include: Mrs. Otto G.T. Straub (former owner, 1926-1938); Professor and Mrs. Summer H. Slichter (former owners, 1938-1963); Al Jackson (gardener, 1963-2000); Carol Johnson (landscape architect, 1963); Alice Page Pickman (landscape architect, 1983-1984); Pat Pratt (landscape designer, 1995-1998); Julia Moir Messervy (landscape architect, 2005); Tom Maley (sculptor); David Gulde (gardener, 2001-); Jerry Gilligan (stonemason, 2005).