April 22, 2022 marked the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted- the father of American landscape architecture. However, he was a much more than a visionary of the land, he promoted social justice, was an early environmentalist and cared deeply about sustainability.
His travel and work experience, his deeply thoughtful nature and his scientific curiosity caused him to make major contributions to America throughout his life.
These contributions are the reason that the Garden Club of America challenged members nationwide to initiate projects that would honor Mr. Olmsted. The GCA launched “PARKS: Where Nature meets Community” in 2021 challenging local clubs to commit to a project that improved, highlighted or created a public landscape or shared open space. The goal was to celebrate Olmsted’s genius in the importance of human connection to nature and its benefits to, health from, and enjoyment of outdoor spaces.
The New Canaan Garden Club enthusiastically embraced this challenge with two projects. Our focus was on Waveny Park due to its heritage as an Olmsted Firm designed landscape. The first project was the redesign and planting of an empty, yet highly trafficked, plot near the main house, the Carriage Barn and the Walled Garden. Plant material had died and it was an empty eyesore. Past President, Lauren Bromberg donated and designed a lovely circular planting which highlights a beautiful crab apple tree and surrounds it with multi-season color perennials. This project was approved by the Town of New Canaan and the Waveny Park Conservancy and installed by the Garden Cub in April 2022.
The NCGC’s second project was to develop an audio guide of a brief history of Waveny Park. After months of research, two 3-minute audio guides were written, edited and recorded. They introduce visitors to the unique history of Waveny Park. They highlight the landscape, the historic buildings and the connection to Olmsted. The guides are available for free by downloading the Otocast app which is the platform for the Glass House, Grace Farms and the New Canaan Museum and Historical Society. This entertaining and enjoyable guide engages listeners and hopefully peaks their interest in delving deeper into the fascinating history of one of New Canaan’s town treasures. Waveny Park Conservancy has taken over updating and refreshing the audio guides.