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English Garden

The Dubuque Arboretum English Garden :: a brief history and overview

English_GardenCommissioned by the children of the first Arboretum president, Frank Hardie, and his wife, Georgette, this formal English garden was designed by Donna and Chris Dumbell, residents of England with roots in Dubuque.

The garden’s 60’x60′ symmetrical design incorporates low hedges, a brick walkway, and a water feature … favoring the more formal aspects of a traditional English garden rather than the more loosely-constructed cottage garden.

The initial planting included more than 600 perennials of 220 varieties. The only annuals are in the two vases under the main pergola. Each corner of the garden is designed with a particular color palette in mind:

Lower left :: White/silver border
Upper left :: Pink/silver border
Lower right :: Blue/yellow border
Upper right :: Purple/cerise border

 

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The English Garden :: a more detailed history

its beginnings

Frank-and-George-HardieThe concept of the English Garden was developed in 2001 as a tribute and memorial by the children of Georgette (1913-1989) and Frank Hardie (1911-2000), first president of the Dubuque Arboretum. Both pictured at right. Commissioned by the Hardie children, (Michael, Kathleen, Carolyn, Stephen, and Mary), since its inception, all costs associated with the English Garden and the Woodlands Preserve have been borne by them, with the exception of the donated Coffman Viburnum collection. In addition, ongoing maintenance is provided by Stephen Hardie.

With the exception of the donated Coffman Viburnum Collection, all of the features of the English Garden and the Woodlands Preserve have never been a financial burden of the Arboretum. In addition, on-going maintenance is provided by Stephen Hardie.

a timeline

2004. The English Garden was completed and dedicated in July 2004.
2005. In November 2005, the Woodlands Preserve, with specifications provided by the Dumbells, was added in the area immediately surrounding the English Garden.

the Woodland Preserve

An intriguing aspect of a traditional English garden is the treatment of the surrounding grounds. The Dumbells researched the appropriate specimens to be included in the design and specified the exact placement of each in the grassy areas around the garden. There are 31 deciduous trees and bushes of 26 varieties with various ground covers for enhancement and weed suppression. Every specimen was painstakingly selected based on hardiness, preferred exposure to sun, its expected mature size, and the proportion to the English Garden that it surrounds. To encourage viewers to closely inspect each specimen, the original design included a small informal, woodchip-covered walkway to connect each specimen (which may be added later).

2006. The area around the Coffman Viburnum Collection, 33 Viburnum specimens north of the garden, was enhanced in 2006.

the Viburnum Display

Donated by Dr. Eugene Coffman, the Coffman Viburnum Collection is comprised of 33 ornamental shrubs located on the bank across the paved walkway to the north of the English Garden. In addition to providing a full menu of Viburnum varieties from which to choose, this display provides a welcome aesthetic buffer between the English Garden and the arboretum greenhouse and maintenance facilities. Since the re-seeding and composting of this area in 2006 and the careful attention to on-going maintenance, this area now seems to have been comfortably incorporated into the overall landscape of the English Garden and the Woodlands Preserve.

2007. The limestone overlook with seating was completed in May 2007.

the “Overlook” Patio
After a time, there seemed to be a number of visitors who would pause awhile in or near the English Garden, especially on the bank near the Knot Garden, to enjoy the scene. To encourage more of this quiet contemplation, and sometimes an afternoon picnic, an “overlook” was constructed. Started in late 2006, the native limestone dry-stacked retaining wall and the patio surface were completed in May 2007, at which time the boxwoods and furniture were added.

the design

The English Garden has benefited from the design guidance of Donna (Conzett) and Chris Dumbell who have their own spacious and lovely gardens at their home, Lower Hall, in Shropshire, England. Because of their ties to a local higher education institution, the Dumbells travel between England and Dubuque several times a year. Fortunately, they have also taken a great deal of interest in the continued development and preservation of the garden.

the specs and interesting facts

#10-English-Garden-Informal-400x289The overall plantable area of the English Garden is 60 feet by 60 feet. The symmetrical design — incorporating low hedges, a brick walkway, and a water feature — favors the more formal aspects of a traditional English Garden rather than the more loosely-constructed cottage garden (foreground in image at right). Some interesting facts:

  • The initial planting included more than 600 perennial plants and shrubs of 200 varieties.
  • The only annuals in the garden are featured in the two vases under the main pergola.
  • Each corner of the garden is designed so that the eye will focus on one dominant color scheme. As seen from the entry stairs:

Lower left :: White/silver border
Upper left :: Pink/silver border
Lower right :: Blue/yellow border
Upper right :: Purple/cerise border

  • Both underground irrigation and electrical service are provided for ease of on-going maintenance.
  • Qui Plantavit Curabit. The small bronze plaque near the top of the main pergola is reminiscent of the plaque that hung over the main entry door to Teddy Roosevelt’s home at Sagamore Hill. The translation: “He who has planted will preserve.”
  • Coins in the Fountain. Our hope is that most wishes have been (and will be) fulfilled.

[ Description provided by Steve Hardie. ]