"In all places, then, and in all seasons,
Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings,
Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons,
How akin they are to human things."
"Flowers" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1837)
The Longfellow garden that you see today is the result of over 250 years of land cultivation and rehabilitation. This land, with its close proximity to the Charles River, has been inhabited for over 4,500 years. When the home was built in 1759, the area was used as farmland. Over the years, it has seen orchards blossom and wither away, brooks disappear, and houses pop up around it.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would not have known the garden as we see it today. Though it sits in the location of his garden, it has changed dramatically over time. Longfellow did walk its shady paths, though, searching for solace and inspiration like numerous visitors do today.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Longfellow's oldest daughter, Alice, became the home's caretaker. From 1905-1925, she hired two female landscape architects, Martha Brookes Hutcheson and Ellen Biddle Shipman, to restore the garden in a way that would preserve what her father had known, as well as blend its design with the Colonial architecture of the house. During this time, the pattern of the modern garden was created. To see some of the flowering plants that comprise today's Longfellow Garden, visit our Photo Gallery.
Did You Know?
Charles Sumner, the orator and senator from Massachusetts, was one of Henry Longfellow's best friends and a frequent visitor to the house on Brattle Street.