Landscape in focus at historic site this spring

Photo By Jeffrey Chasin
Landscape committee member Dorothy Derifield and Tuesday Club member Katherine Cipolla examine a garden on the grounds of the Loring-Greenough House across from the monument.

MONUMENT SQ.—A landscape committee has started intensive work, including fund-raising, this spring to care for the award-winning grounds of the historic Loring-Greenough House. The new committee, under the leadership of landscaper Ray Dunetz, is also planning to design an historic perennial garden.

The volunteer group has decided to plant a Victorian garden, because the Victorian era from 1837-1901 encompasses a good many years in the life of the house, which was built in 1760. During that era, many plants now familiar to gardeners became available. Many perennials from North America are well-represented in Victorian garden guides, including columbines, asters, coreopsis, bee balm, phlox and sunflowers.

“Even as they stop to admire the star magnolia blooming in the spring, few people probably consider the challenges involved in maintaining such extensive grounds,” committee member Dorothy Derifield said of the more than 2 acres of land.

Just as a historic house requires constant care, the landscape of the Loring-Greenough House—with all its trees, shrubs, lawns and garden—also needs knowledgeable oversight. Committee members represent many types of expertise, including landscaping, garden design and garden history.

Maintainance and renewal of the trees and shrubs are ongoing aspects of the work. This spring, the many specimen trees have been professionally pruned to remove dead or dying limbs and to enhance shapeliness. Plans call for the shrubs to also be pruned, and, where necessary, those which have long passed their prime will be replaced.

The Loring-Greenough House and its grounds are used frequently for artistic and community events as well as by private parties, so keeping the lawns healthy is a constant challenge. According to Dunetz, the committee is looking for a “turf angel” to underwrite the replacement of existing grass with a fescue that requires less upkeep to maintain its beauty.

In order to help finance its projects, including the Victorian garden, the landscape committee will hold a plant sale at the house on Sat., May 17 (rain date May 24) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sale will feature many perennials, annuals and container plantings, and knowledgeable gardeners will be on hand to answer questions. For more information about the landscape committee’s work, e-mail [email protected] or call 325-8388.

The Loring-Greenough House, a local landmark listed on the Massachusetts and National Registers of Historic Places, is located at 12 South St. It is owned and managed by the non-profit Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club, Inc. as a historic house museum and site for art and music presentations. For more information on the Loring-Greenough House, see

Submitted by the Loring-Greenough House landscape committee.

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