Scott Sunken Garden

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Lansing, MI
United States
Scott Sunken Garden

Landscape Information

Located in Scott Park on the north bank of the Grand River just outside downtown Lansing, the garden was designed around 1930 by philanthropist, horticulturist, and REO Motor Car Company president Richard H. Scott. Scott hired Nicolaas Isaac Willem Kriek, founder of the Cottage Gardens Nursery in Lansing, to build the garden on the foundation of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Edward Cahill’s former home, which sat on a parcel adjacent to Scott’s Georgian Colonial mansion and which Scott had purchased and razed. Designed for an urban residence, the formal garden sat amongst a row of turn-of-the-century mansions lining West Main Street (now West Malcolm X Street), which was demolished for the construction of Interstate 496. The garden fell into disrepair after Scott’s home was destroyed in 1965. In the late 1970s, the site became a city park. The Garden Club of Greater Lansing partnered with the city in the early 1980s to restore the garden to its original design, and the club continues to maintain it.

The rectangular, two-tiered sunken garden measures some 50 x 80 feet. At the center is a central lawn, approximately 30 x 45 feet, which is enclosed by a low limestone wall and raised flower beds containing annuals, perennials, bulbs, and shrubs. Curved limestone steps to the west and a central opening in the southern wall provide access to the garden. In the center of the eastern wall is a small limestone grotto with a still-water pond featuring goldfish, water lilies, and cattails. The land to the south of the garden slopes down to the Grand River. Along with the nearby Cooley-Haze House, the garden is one of the last remnants of this once-affluent part of Lansing.