Mount Auburn Street: 1904

Continuing my tour of “Three Gardens in Three Centuries!”, I pedaled along Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge to Longfellow Park, a great oval of green that stretches from Mount Auburn Street to the Longfellow National Historic Site on Brattle Street. The Historic Site consists of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s house and gardens. Since you could see the Charles River from the Longfellow house in 1900, I thought it behooved me to inspect the garden in my Mount Auburn Street tour.

Oh, it’s pretty. The crabapple was blooming by the house, and the formal garden behind the house is just beginning to give a glimmer of its June glory, with peonies, roses, and irises just beginning to sun their leaves. The restored garden incorporates Martha Brookes Hutcheson’s 1904 design and Ellen Biddle Shipman’s renovations in the 1920s.

Urban wild, this is not. When was the last time you went to a garden that compelled you to march to the nearest refreshment stand and order tea and a crumpet? They don’t make gardens like this any more. There’s a pergola! And a sundial! And dozens of oddly-shaped beds with little hedges! The garden is 100 feet long, at most, but you can’t walk straight through it. The “Persian pattern” of the place, as Hutcheson termed it, keeps strollers from arriving at their destination too soon.

It’s small, it’s lovely, and the house next door going to be chock-a-block with lilacs next week, judging by the few blooms I saw peeking out from the hedge.

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