Our Formal Garden: A place of beauty, connection and reflection

As part of our recent Family and Alumnae/i Weekend, current students, family members, and alumnae/i stretching across seven decades gathered on Saturday morning to celebrate the re-opening of our Formal Garden – a space that has played a central role in school life since the 1930s.
 
The ceremony was blessed with “all the weather” – sun, rain, and snow – in the space of 20 minutes. It certainly showcased the hardiness of St. Mary’s and White Mountain students and alumnae/i!
 
The story of our garden’s renewal began three years ago, when several trustees traveled to the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site to locate the original plans for the Formal Garden.  We are proud to have a garden designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm – they were truly leaders in their field, designing such notable spaces as Central Park in New York City and the White House gardens in Washington DC. With copies of the plans in hand, the trustees returned with a vision of a restored Formal Garden. Their enthusiasm led to broad interest and fundraising, as well as the hiring of Leigh Starer, a leading landscape designer. It is particularly exciting that the restoration of the garden brought together so many donors – parents, friends, and alumnae/i from every decade from the 1950s all the way up to the Class of 2015 (who worked together to raise the money to name a bench in the garden as their Senior Class Gift). 
 
The Formal Garden matters in the life of our School because it demonstrates our belief in the importance of beauty in everyday life. It is a place to connect with the history of our School and with each other. Think of all the students, teachers and parents whose feet have passed over these brick paths in the past 80 years. Generations of students have sat in this garden – to read, to eat lunch, to have their graduation photos taken. Our garden matters because it shows us the mystery of nature – birth, death, and rebirth. And our garden matters because, in the busyness of our world, it is important to have a quiet place to slow down, to reflect. 
 
Many thanks to all who made this possible.
 
Tim Breen

Please click here to watch a video of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Click here to see photos from Alumnae/i Weekend, including photos of the restored garden.

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