North Parish Gardens
The gardens now surrounding the historic North Parish Unitarian Universalist Church began to take form in 2008 following Mass. Highway’s rework of the abutting roadways (including the current rotary) and an extensive accessibility and preservation project at the church. Seeded by the vision of a few avid gardeners and contributions of “green” (both cash and donated plants), the initial plantings claimed space for a sun garden along Great Pond Road and a shade garden behind the Chapel. In the spring of 2009 the church received a memorial donation from the family of George and Eleanor Twickler. In consultation with the family and in honor of their request for a lasting tribute to their parents, church volunteers created a meditation garden along the back side of the church, complete with patio, labyrinth, benches for quiet reflection, and a pondless water element. Designed by church members Debb Putnam and Dick Wilson, with hardscape by D&L Landscaping and Valley Monuments, the planting and installation involved many volunteer hours, and both donated and purchased perennials and shrubs.
Gardens and buildings change over time. In 2012 the church underwent a second extensive building project, replacing a small, inaccessible wing with a larger, fully-accessible space that accommodates classrooms, chapel, and church offices. The project required relocating gardens and patio in the lower and back yards. Perennials, shrubs, and hardscape material were carefully stowed alongside the construction site. When the construction was completed, plantings were relocated and new gardens and sitting areas were created. With the assistance of church member Willow Cheeley, a licensed landscape architect, church volunteers added a pollinator garden along the roadside, sensory gardens along walkways, and a multi-use space in the lower yard that incorporates space for play and reflection. The gardens continue to evolve, creating a changing tapestry of color and form that frames the historic structure, enchants the eye, and are reminders of life’s cycles, beauty, impermanence and renewal. All are free to linger awhile.