How Does Your Garden Grow?
by Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes
When we walk into a mature garden for the first time, it is hard to realize we are in the middle of a space that is constantly changing. The garden here at Glen Burnie has not always looked like this and it will change again. Not only does it change from season to season, but year to year. Our garden is seeing some dramatic changes this year with the addition of new garden spaces and renovation of others. One garden that is looking particularly nice this week is our Parterre Garden. Last summer we did quite a bit of renovation and this spring we can finally see the payoff.
As we enjoy the beauty before us now, it is fun to remind ourselves to look back at how this beautiful landscape came to be. Looking at old photos, we can see how the garden has grown and evolved through the years. Plants mature in front of our eyes as we look at the sequence of photos. Some die, others are trimmed or are moved.
Below is an example of how this single space within the Glen Burnie gardens has changed. Enjoy the journey.
The Parterre Garden as is was first planted around 1962. The south lawn is in the background. Note how small the American boxwood were when they were planted. Plum trees were also planted near the stone wall. Lee Taylor talks about the challenges of laying out the pattern for this garden in The Gardens of Glen Burnie (available in our Museum Store—and yes that is a shameless plug).
The parterre in 1967. The boxwood filled in nicely over the previous five years and the plum trees grew rapidly. A decorative piece that looks like a column capital was added to the center of the parterre as well as two sculptures and a bench in the back right of the photo. On the left is a green mass along the wall where a gate used to be – it is a newly planted tree of heaven.
The parterre in the summer of 1970. The boxwood hedge is fully grown in and trimmed while seasonal plantings fill the space. The tree of heaven to the left of the plums has grown quickly in the last three years.
This view of the parterre in the late 1970s shows the boxwood trimmed in a more elaborate pattern. Also notice that the statue of Mercury and barberry shrubs were added to the garden.
A ground view of the parterre looking southwest, taken in 1980. The barberry shrubs have grown larger than the boxwood edging. Today, the plums seen in the back are no longer in the garden, but the tree of heaven on the far left still stands tall.
A view of the parterre looking back towards the house in 1997, when the house opened to the public. This image shows how large the corner boxwoods have become, spilling out onto the brick paths.
Over the years, the brick walks had become uneven and the plantings had totally overgrown their spaces. Last spring a major renovation began by removing all the plantings and completely resetting all the brick walks. New plantings were added later in the summer.
The parterre in the fall of 2014 after the renovations were complete. A new dwarf variety of boxwood was planted along with annuals which provide seasonal color. Note the new umbrellas on the terrace in the background.
The Parterre Garden right now. Daffodils and tulips planted last fall with the aid from volunteers from Rubbermaid are now blooming like crazy. This show will last only a short time and then we will plant summer annuals later in May. You should come see the daffodils before they are gone.