Thanks to a generous grant from The Champlin Foundations, Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, Rhode Island will get a face lift and infrastructure improvements this spring.
The $115,780 grant will allow the replacement of the diseased boxwoods in the parterre with new disease-resistant boxwoods. The old boxwoods suffer from a soil-borne fungus caused by excessive moisture. To help relieve that problem, the project also includes the installation of French drains along upper garden paths to deflect excessive rain water, and a new dry well to collect the rain water, which will then be used to irrigate a section of lawn.
Additional improvements include rebuilding a barrier-free ramp to the garden to improve handicapped access; installing a micro-spray irrigation system; digging a new back-up well to ensure a reliable source of water in dry season; and installing steel edging to better define paths and increase visitor safety.
Using the same trenches that will be dug for irrigation, workers will also install landscape lighting with electrical outlets. This will also improve visitor safety and allow the potential to offer special events on the property at night. It will also allow gardeners to replace gas-powered hedge trimmers with more environmentally-friendly electric trimmers.
More than 14,000 people visited Green Animals in 2011. The property will re-open for the 2012 season on May 13.
The small country estate overlooking Narragansett Bay in Portsmouth was purchased in 1872 by Thomas E. Brayton. It consisted of seven acres of land, a classic white clapboard summer residence, farm outbuildings, pasture and a vegetable garden. Mr. Brayton hired Portuguese gardener Joseph Carreiro, who created the formal gardens and most of the present topiary between 1905 and his death in 1945. His son-in-law, George Mendonca, took over as superintendent and continued to develop new topiary and gardens until his retirement in 1985. Today, The Preservation Society of Newport County continues the meticulous maintenance of this historic estate, which includes more than 80 topiaries.
The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Association of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes and decorative arts. Its 11 historic properties—seven of them National Historic Landmarks—span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.