As you stroll through our Entry Garden, you will notice a rich diversity of plants in the lush landscape. In the spring, the redbuds, Trilliums, and Dutchman’s-breeches are in full bloom. Deeper into the summer, the goldenseal and umbrella-trees begin to fruit. Many of these Entry Garden plants were favorites of Garden in the Woods creator, Will Curtis.
The property was cultivated primarily by the Massachusett and Nipmuc peoples prior to European colonization, and was industrialized by railroads in the mid-19th century. In 1931, landscape architect Will Curtis bought this 45-acre property from a railroad company that had mined part of it for gravel deposited by retreating Ice Age glaciers. The glaciers also created the ridges, steep-sided valleys, pond, bog, and perennial stream that attracted Curtis to this “naturally beautiful place,” which he saw as “just the spot for a wild flower garden.”
Trained by a pioneer of the Wild Garden movement in America, Curtis aimed in his design to “paint a peaceful picture of our land as nature intended it.” He and his partner Dick Stiles collected seeds and specimens from all over the continent to learn how to cultivate wild plants, in part to “curb the wholesale destruction” of nature by florists and others who stripped out the most ornamental plants.
Today we honor their gift to us in 1965 by tending a garden that pairs ecological principles with the beauty of our region’s native plants.