United States of America -- Massachusetts -- Worcester -- Worcester
Scope and Contents:
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles, and other information.
Beginning work in 1949 the gardens on this five acre property were a collaboration between landscape architect Fletcher Steele (1855-1971) and owner Helen Stoddard, and most of Steele's design and plantings were maintained for the next 50 years. The site slopes down behind the house and has outcroppings of rock. Steele envisioned a descending cornucopia shape inspired by the illusion of the downward spiral he had observed in Titian's painting "Bacchus and Ariadne", and had the shape he wanted carved into the earth by bulldozers. Descending levels of lawn, flower beds, and a pond were bordered by a ribbon of bluestone planted with tufts of blue fescue. Dry stone walls planted with maiden hair ferns were built from a porous fossilized rock dug out of a dried-up lake bed in Castalia, Ohio. Two sets of steps, one from the bluestone terrace behind the house and another below a bank of roses were covered with moss. White birches were planted to draw the eye to perennial borders, and spires of arborvitae were another focal point. The Art Deco style of the garden brought together the exotic and native by blending into surrounding woodlands that had plantings of juniper, mountain laurel, azaleas, dogwood, hemlock, birch, and elm.
The current owners resolved to preserve Steele's innovative design and vision as much as possible while changing some deteriorating hardscape and plants. The dry Castalia stone wall and moss-covered steps were no longer safe and had to be replaced when the house was renovated. Bluestone was used to rebuild the terrace behind the house and for steps set on fieldstone risers, and a new low wall was built from cinder blocks with stone facing. A walkway of fieldstone set in the lawn recalled an original path. The blue fescue grass was dying off, possibly due to soggy feet, and is being replaced by Japanese hakone grass which is mostly yellow. The arborvitae had grown too tall and were out of scale, many were knocked over by a storm, and some are being replanted. However many of the perennials in the borders and beds, the white birches and the rose and azalea banks are still growing.
Persons associated with the garden include: Robert and Helen Stoddard (former owners, 1941-1999); Fletcher Steele (1885-1971) (landscape architect, 1946-1949); Matt Mattus (gardener, 1975-1980); Isabel Wheat (horticulturist, 1999- ); Robert Karski (documentation, 2016).
Steele-Stoddard-McDonough Garden related holdings consist of 7 folders (119 35mm slides; 4 transparencies; 9 digital images)
See others in:
Garden Club of America Collection, ca. 1920-[ongoing].
Eleanor Weller collection, circa 1978-2006.
Ken Druse garden photography collection, 1978-2005.
Corliss Knapp Engle slide collection, 1969-2001.
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