Frances (Fanny) Isabelle Parnell was born in 1848 in the County of Wicklow, Ireland to a family of wealthy landowners – an Irish father and an American mother. Her American grandfather was Charles Stewart, an admiral who commanded the USS Constitution in the war of 1812. Although Fanny was born into a life of privilege in Ireland – the land of her birth was, during her formative years, recovering from a series of famines that had left over a million dead. (more…)
…And all rare blossoms from every clime
Grew in that garden in perfect prime.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
We encourage all to visit our newly renovated Asa Gray Garden. In collaboration with the award-winning Halvorson Design Partnership and R. P. Marzilli Landscape Contractor, this garden includes a diverse mix of 130 taxa of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals and bulbs which will provide four-seasons of color, texture and interest. An enlarged central water feature and reflecting pool help create a sense of calm within this newly re-designed meditative landscape.
…made him feel as if the fountain were an immortal spirit
that sung its song unceasingly
and without heeding the vicissitudes around it…
In lieu of specific plant discussion, we recall this garden’s namesake, the preeminent nineteenth century botanist, Asa Gray (1810-1888). The eldest of eight siblings of a farmer/tanner in Sauquoit, New York, he graduated from Fairfield Medical College in 1831. Lynn Barber in The Heyday of Natural History 1820-1870 states, “At the beginning of the nineteenth century, all laymen and most scientists believed that the earth and all the species on it had been created by God in six days towards the end of October in the year 4004 B.C.” Gray eschewed an incipient medical practice for a botanical life that led to decades of research and publishing. Later botanical renown positioned him to become the foremost American advocate of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), when in 1859, Origin of Species revealed the then heretical theory of evolution and the process of natural selection. (more…)
Asa Gray, preeminent American botanist and Harvard professor, was born on November 18, 1810 in Sauquoit, New York. (more…)
George Thorndike Angell, founder of the MSPCA, was born on June 5, 1823 in Southbridge, Massachusetts. He was the son of a schoolteacher and a Baptist minister. (more…)