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On Assignment: The Bradley Estate

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  November 19, 2008 05:15 PM

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Bradley Estate

By Kate Passaro

CANTON -- As an amateur photographer, I find myself in constant search of new places to practice the craft. The Bradley Estate in Canton has become a regular trip of mine based on the natural landscape, easy-to-find location, and price (free!).

Every time I visit, things appear slightly different based on the season and the plantings in the gardens that are in almost constant bloom. If you stood in the same spot 365 days in a row, you could capture an extensive array of pictures. With foliage surrounding you, the wide variety of trees and flowers brighten any landscape shot, and yield good close-ups.

(See a gallery of Kate's shots below.)

According to the Trustees of Reservations website, the Bradley Estate was originally Cherry Hill Farm until it was converted to a home in 1902. It has sprawling gardens and more than three miles of paths. Charles Platt designed the complex and well-manicured grounds.

While walking the grounds, you can photograph many different environments that have common elements, but still provide for a varied set of pictures. One such area is a working farm with brilliantly colored cabbage and pumpkins when in season, along with old and new farm equipment that begs to be photographed. Animals live on the grounds, including llamas, sheep, roosters, and deer.

Behind the main house, a parterre garden -- similar to those seen in European castles -- includes sculptures, assorted flowers, and a fountain -- I've taken more than 100 pictures of it while learning to shoot moving water.

Beyond the hay fields and pastures are hiking trails that wend past a dell and a vernal pool, and end behind the Kitchen Garden. Tree enthusiasts will appreciate the devil's walking stick, paperbark maple, dawn redwood, and umbrella pines in the dell. It’s too late this year to see the cornstalks and giant sunflowers in the Kitchen Garden, but you can see the Green House and Sunken Camellia House added by Eleanor Cabot Bradley in 1945.

Once all the leaves have fallen -- and we're just about there with all the wind and rain we've had recently -- the perspective from each location will continue to change.

With winter coming, the estate will be beautiful in snow cover. If you get there soon after a snowfall, you will be able to incorporate both untouched fields of snow and footprints on the paths.

Any photographer with a penchant for landscapes and lines will find themselves attracted to the split wood fences and rock walls. The main house can be seen from many angles, with improvised frames of argent leaves and fence posts. More patient photographers could try to use the brick walls in the garden as framing or wait by the scattered bird houses for native breeds.

Overall, the Bradley Estate is a wonderful learning environment that is constantly changing, making it important to keep going back!


The Bradley Estate
Address: 2468B Washington St. (Route 138), Canton
Admission: Free. Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed.
Hours: Open from sunrise to sunset every day, year-round

For directions, trail maps, a schedule of guided tours, and information about renting the house or grounds for private functions, visit the Bradley Estate website.


Kate Passaro is originally from Medfield and now lives in Quincy. To see more of her photos, visit Kate P Photography.

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