Fifty years ago, Lisette deLisle O'Shea, a talented artist, looked up from the landscape she was painting in her garden. She put down her brush, and picked up a spade. Her new palette became spackeled with living color: orangey poppies, midnight purple iris, lavender stalks, rougey red rose petals, creamy golden peonies, lemon lillies, or siberian blue starflowers scattered under pale pink magnolia blossom cups.
Fifty years ago, Alexander Kennedy looked out his window in the seaside village of Seaview. He was dreaming about planting a nursery on a piece of land nestled next to the North River. It had a small outbuilding heated by a pot-bellied stove, and fertile black soil on the acreage, enriched by salt marsh hay delivered by moon tides.
But dreams are just visions without the investment of sweat equity.
Lisette’s children helped her haul rocks in her their red flyer wagon. They watched their mother transform an unsightly drainage ditch into a magnificent rock garden. Strangers often stopped their cars and took pictures of the mounds of cascading flowers that changed color with the seasons.
Alexander Kennedy’s grandson, Robert, watched as he rolled up his sleeves and staked his claim to the property overlooking the tidal river. He saw his grandfather fill his nursery with species of plants that could thrive and survive in New England’s coastal tempests.
In time, Alexander’s grandson, Robert, was ready to till the family dream. After finishing his studies at the University of Massachusetts, he came equipped to expand the little seaside enterprise. He added the first greenhouse, a dismantle one that he re-assembled. Robert had a knack for growing the business of growing things. Local residents began to notice that Kennedy’s was beginning to look like "one of those English country gardens."
Lisette and her daughter, Jeanine Graf, made many joyous excursions to Kennedy’s back then. They were working together to awaken an old garden in Seaview and needed sturdy plants and sound advice. Clumps of iris flourished on top of a ledge facing northeast toward the sea.
A lot of happy memories have been cultivated over the years and Kennedy’s Country Gardens will be commemorating fifty years of service. Alexander Kennedy’s great-grandson, Chris, now carries his family’s legacy. And Lisette deLisle’s daughter has placed into those able hands a new generation of iris from that ledge in Seaview. The new hybrid has been officially registered by the American Iris Association, and named Lisette deLisle. Lisette’s daughter has entrusted Mr. Chris Kennedy with the introduction of the lovely pale lavender blue, orchid-like iris that blooms on her mother’s birthday (Mothers' Day). “My mother’s little namesake will prosper in the Kennedy’s field of dreams.”
This month Kennedy’ Country Gardens celebrated fifty years of service to New England, and the Lisette deLisle iris was tucked into the display garden. Iris lovers can place their orders for the new hybrid at 781-545-1266.