McGinley Garden

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Milton, MA
United States
McGinley Garden

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Landscape architect Ellen Shipman designed this garden in 1925 for Mrs. Holden McGinley, a newspaper heiress. Shipman’s design sought to take advantage of the views of open meadows and the Blue Hills to the south and west of the Colonial Revival mansion designed by the Boston architecture firm Bigelow & Wadsworth. To do so, she created, just west of the house, a walled garden ensemble comprising three distinctly designed rectangular compartments—an upper, middle, and lower garden—conceived as long terraces that descend in elevation from northwest to southeast. The upper garden featured a rill edged in bluestone and set within a flat, narrow lawn, whose perimeter was planted with beds of peony, chrysanthemum, and iris. The middle garden, separated from the others by hedges of Carolina hemlock, comprised an equally narrow greensward flanked by perennial borders and low walls, whose posts were adorned with climbing roses. A niche for sculpture, placed within the western perimeter wall, punctuated the visual axis that runs through the space and extends east, to the door of the house’s sunroom. Tulips, peach trees, and pansies planted alongside pearlbush and flowering almonds added color and texture. The lower garden was a rose garden featuring a round pool with a lotus-leaf fountain at its center, set within a cluster of golden salmon polyanthas. The pool ensemble was placed on the perpendicular axis that unified the three spaces, extending southeast through a break in the wall to provide views of the landscape in the distance—the ‘garden beyond the garden.’ Adjacent to the house, Shipman created a spring border, placing double-flowering peach trees, interspersed with pearlbush, along the walls, and a canopy of flowering almonds overhead. Edith Schryver, who apprenticed in Shipman’s office in the 1920s, produced drawings for the project, which garnered a blue ribbon from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1933.