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Shore Country Day School: Giving the Garden Room to Grow

By May 11, 2010November 22nd, 20112 Comments
by Julie Moir Messervy

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a design project. While marking the end of a designer’s close relationship with the garden, it signals the beginning of the garden’s life as a place of enjoyment by others. Fresh from the Dedication of the Inspiration Garden, here are a few thoughts about giving over a garden to its rightful owners.

The Inspiration Garden’s mascot, created by Sculptor Beverly Seamans. Photo: Cathy Ebling.

On Friday, May 7,th against a magnificent blue sky, Shore Country Day School dedicated its JMMDS-designed Inspiration Garden in front of several hundred parents, teachers, and students. Created to honor the memory of eleven young graduates who passed away, the quarter-acre garden is a contemplative setting in the middle of a busy campus.

Looking from inside the beaver lodge out into the garden. Photo: Julie Moir Messervy.

Inspired by the school’s mascot, this landscape was designed as a miniature beaver meadow, complete with beaver waterway, dam, lodge, tunnel, and wet meadow plantings. The process of creating the Inspiration Garden was documented in a JMMDS blog from last October.

Head of School Larry Griffin addresses the audience. Photo: Peter Mason.

Headmaster Larry Griffin welcomed everyone and asked student Charlotte Ward to read “The Gardener’s Morning,” a poem by Howard Dolf (below). Another reading was given by 9th grade student Thor Vutcharangkul, who read Doxis M. Palmer’s poem, “Garden Sanctuary.”

The robin’s song at daybreak
Is a clarion call to me. Get up and get
Out into the garden,
For the morning hours flee.

I cannot resist the summons;
What earnest gardener could?
For the golden hours of morning
Get into the gardener’s blood.

The magic spell is upon me;
I’m glad that I did not wait;
For life’s at its best in the morning,
As you pass through the garden gate.

I then stood up to thank the many people involved in creating the garden, including the Garden Committee (Joan Mullen, Cathy Ebling, Cathy Griffin, and Christy and Kelly Sheehan), landscape contractor Matt Foti and his foreman, Mike Santoro; beaver lodge and tunnel sculptor Mark Ragonese; makers of the concrete beaver waterway Triad Associates; stone mason Chance Anderson, and JMMDS designers including Erica Bowman, Valeria Khislavsky, and Bethany Gracia.

Julie, Chance Anderson, Val, and Mark Ragonese. Photo: Peter Mason.

The garden was then dedicated by Headmaster Griffin with a reading of the names of the students to whom it was dedicated. A special presentation was given by Trustee David Loring–whose family donated the bronze beaver, designed by his relative, sculptor Beverly Seamans.

David Loring addresses the audience as Beverly and Don Seamans look on from the crowd. Photos: Peter Mason.

The Acafellas ended the program with a lovely rendition of “America the Beautiful” with Robert Griffin as soloist.

The Acafellas. Photo: Peter Mason.

Those who attended the Dedication Ceremony were then invited to wander through the garden and to enjoy a reception provide by the Wenham Tea House. Among the guests were Julie’s sister, Allison and nephew, Atticus, who, as Julie said, “tried the garden out and found it good.”

Guests experiencing the garden. Photo: Peter Mason.

Julie’s nephew, Atticus, enjoying the locust logs. Photo: Cathy Ebling.

It’s so wonderful to celebrate the ending of the design process like this, because it also symbolizes the beginning of the life of the garden in its community. We often write a maintenance manual in order to turn it over properly to its rightful owners. These moments are always bittersweet—like the leave-taking of an adolescent for college, a parent knows that they’ll never really return to live in the house with the same degree of naturalness again. Life—and the garden—move on. This was one of the best leave-takings I’ve ever experienced. Thank you to Marge Cregg, Joanne Harder, and all the other wonderful friends I’ve made at Shore! May the garden continue to prosper in your good hands!

Julie takes a walk through the Inspiration Garden. Video: Julie Moir Messervy.

Here are some new photos and a video from the garden now that the plants have had more of a chance to grow in. We’re looking forward to the Inspiration Garden becoming lusher and fuller as the growing season progresses and the plants continue to establish themselves in their new home at Shore Country Day.

L: Lush plantings; R: A student reading in the beaver lodge. Photos: Julie Moir Messervy.

L: The stone basin honoring students’ memories; R: Virginia bluebells add color. Photos: Julie Moir Messervy.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • The transition from creating -> to installing -> to entrusting to another -> is a spiritual journey that demands maturity and a Mother’s Love — even for the most manly man.

    Recently I couldn’t hold back the tears when I visited a favorite one of Julie’s design in the Boston area. The present corporate “owner” has chosen to let the garden “evolved.”

    The change uprooted my sense of soaring inspiration, balance and gratitude for an authentic JMMDS masterpiece.

    Then I remembered the mandala masterpiece that was created by Tibetian Monks at the Williams Art Museum in Williamstown. After days of chanting and art-full creation the bright shining eternal beauty of the mandala was transformed into nothingness by the Monks.

    I’m sorely challenged by the letting go and the depth required to be one with “There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a design project. While marking the end of a designer’s close relationship with the garden, it signals the beginning of the garden’s life as a place of enjoyment by others.”

    Thank you Julie and JMMDS!


  • Erica Bowman says:

    It is so nice to see that this garden has been received into such loving arms. It could not have come into a better group of people. Those children will continue to sing amongst these garden greens for years to come. Hooray. This IS truly rewarding.