image detailimage detailimage detail

Photos in order of appearance: English Garden, 1923 (the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens Archives); wisteria arbor, 2012; detail of Wisteria floribunda, 2012.

In 1910, when Mr. and Mrs. Cummer decided they needed a new infusion of advice as well as additional trees and shrubs for their grounds, they looked to an out-of-state resource, the Philadelphia nurserymen, Thomas Meehan (1826-1901) and Sons. The centerpiece of the new garden was a large wisteria arbor. Mrs. Cummer’s notation on Meehan’s plan indicates that she originally called it the Wisteria Garden, but in later years it was referred to as the Azalea Garden. Today it is known as the English Garden.

Family snapshots taken within a year of Meehan’s installation show the same basic design configuration that exists today. Rectangular in shape, with beautifully laid brick paths alternating with grass walks, the English Garden’s main feature is the striking semicircular cypress-beamed pergola overlooking the river.