We had been expecting major construction across the garden this summer. This was the year that we would finally break ground on the Ramble, our children and family garden, a much-needed expansion of our parking lot, and accessibility improvements to the front entry experience and Pliny’s Allee. Boy, have things changed in the last few months.
While Ramble and parking lot construction are on pause, work began this past winter to improve the entry experience for all guests by expanding the lobby of the Stoddard Center. Construction took place in January and February to remove an interior vestibule, replace flooring, install a new information desk, and add a video wall. That work was to be completed with the construction of a new exterior vestibule and the widening and realignment of the entry ramp from the parking lot to the Stoddard Center.
Although we will not be able to implement our full vision this season, we will in the next few weeks break ground on the new entry ramp and complete the construction of the vestibule. Realigning and widening the entry ramp does require us to remove all the existing plants, including several specimens we intend to move to other parts of the garden. During a visit to the garden prior to construction, you may notice wood chips and watering bags surrounding a Cornus kousa ‘Doubloon’, a unique double-flowered Korean dogwood, Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’, a weeping form of baldcypress, a tree native to the eastern United States, and Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Showy Lantern’, a gorgeous selection of red-vein enkianthus that was planted along the entry ramp more than twenty years ago. We are giving these plants some extra water to prepare for moving them to their new homes prior to construction.
You may also notice that there are a lot of conspicuous holes in the ground along the entry ramp – evidence of transplanting we’ve been doing for weeks to salvage valuable garden plants before construction. Plants like Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, a golden form of Japanese forest grass, were dug, divided, and held in containers until the horticulture team can replant them in their permanent new homes in other parts of the garden. Unfortunately, visitors missed the impressive bulb display horticulture manager Dawn Davies designed for the entry ramp and the front of the Stoddard Center. With construction imminent, we’ve opted not to plant annuals in this area.
While we’re disappointed to have to put the majority of construction on hold, we are excited to break ground on this important improvement that will provide guests with an easier and more welcoming entrance to the garden.