Sunday, June 5, 2016

Our Secret Garden--Looking Back

On Sunday June 5, 2011 I posted this brief history of our house and the development of our "secret garden".  So I thought it was the perfect time to post it again.  Sadly, one of the two giant weeping willows is no longer with us.  As you read here earlier this month, when it was cut down, the willow held its own secret--a nest of raccoons, but they all got out alive.

 Ever since the tornados several days ago and the arrival of house guests, I've been neglecting this blog. (Our electricity was out this morning, but now it's back.  Luckily the worst of the destruction stopped 20 miles away.)

Next Sunday (June 12) in our town of Grafton, MA, the Historical Society and the  Garden Club are sponsoring a tour of nine "Historic Homes and Gardens" and ours is one of them.  So I thought I'd post the brief house history/garden write-up that I prepared for the booklet and show you some photos of the "Secret Garden" (plus grape arbor, pool, fish pond and waterfall) that we've put into the stone foundation of the  Colonial Barn on our property that burned down in 1965 .  When  we bought the place in 1974,  the area  where the barn burned was filled with weeds and rubble, but it was my husband's idea to fill it with a pond, swimming pool and "secret garden."

The Daniel Rand House -- Grafton MA. The rear wing of this building was the original house, built in 1723 by Daniel Rand, one of the original proprietors of Shrewsbury.   On Dec. 15, 1723, his son Solomon was the first child baptized in the town when it was incorporated. Solomon lived 80 years and is buried on the property.  His gravestone is on display in the lower garden.  Two of Solomon’s sons served in the Revolutionary War.  In 1822, the property was sold at public auction  to Tarrant Merriam of Grafton,  a wealthy landholder who built the Greek Revival farmhouse which now faces Nelson Street.  Because he didn’t like to go all the way to Shrewsbury Center to church, Merriam had the boundary of Grafton moved slightly to the north, so that the house is now in Grafton.

The Rands built an enclosed walkway from their house to the barn so they could feed the animals without plowing through snow.  This very large Colonial barn, measuring 120 feet by 45, burned down in 1965, taking with it four horses and a cradle believed to have come over on the Mayflower.  All that remained was the stone foundation, which now serves as the walls surrounding the enclosed garden and pool area.
From Nelson Street the “Secret Garden” inside the barn foundation walls is invisible, but plantings of perennials can be seen on the left side of the house and running along the fence that leads to a second (modern) structure built  twenty years ago to serve as guest house, office and (on the lower level) a garage, rec room and bathroom, opening onto the pool.
 In the pool area there is a rock garden, small waterfall and fishpond on the far (south) end, plantings of impatiens, foxglove, irises and shade-loving perennials.  Antique cast-iron garden furniture and small garden sculptures can be seen throughout the area. On the  near (north) end of the enclosure is a grape arbor , supported by a pergola with ionic columns.  Hydrangeas, hibiscus, roses  and many perennials bloom throughout the season.

 When the house and three acres of property were bought from from  Richard and Marie-Louise Bishop in 1974, it came with the two large weeping willows, three different colors of lilac bushes, an apple tree, blackberry patches , lilies of the valley and a wide variety of irises. 

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