Friday, October 28, 2011

Sunken surprise

As I was racing to a luncheon lecture at the Radcliffe Institute earlier this week, I was stopped short in my steps by the sight of this lovely little sunken garden on the Institute's grounds. How could I have worked in Cambridge for a quarter of a century and never before stumbled upon this jewel?

It was decked out in fall flowers blue (asters, monkshoods, and irises--how is it that those are even flowering now?!) and white (anemones) and in foliage orange and green.

The hardscaping of stone and brick walks, walls, and water features provided a perfectly scaled framework.  The design led straight in the right places and swooped around in perfect curves.  Unfortunately, the fountain was also under renovation, preventing full access to the garden.  I can't wait to have a fuller visit this winter . . . and in the spring . . . and summer . . .

The only disappointment--and a surprising one, in light of its location in the most historically conscious and self-reflective university in this country--as well as one that sponsors a renowned landscape program--is that I could locate no information about when or by whom this sunken garden was designed.  A brief citation in a history of Radcliffe indicates that it was installed sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century.  Oh, and a plant list would be nice, too!


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