The three acres of land at The Rosedale Conservancy are a remarkable window into a landscape of the past. The dramatic landforms known as Falls, the high stone “bank barn” wall by the Newark Street gate, the boxwood hedge, and the wonderful mature trees all bear witness to the impact of generations of efforts to beautify the land. The importance of preserving these historic landscape features is obvious, but any plans for the land must also recognize the property’s importance to the community as a place for recreation, community events, and dog walking. Rosedale is a rural oasis in its urban setting, one that is highly valued.
In order to integrate these uses of the landscape with the need for historic preservation efforts, the Board decided to adopt as its guiding concept “a village green with landscape ruin.” Under this concept, sections of the property will be preserved, stabilized, restored and protected as historic features, while other areas will be designed and managed for non-historic uses and activities – a village green serving the local neighborhood. As such, the Board agreed that the center part of the property should remain open and green, while the edges of the property can be strategically planted to improve screening and enhance the feeling of a rural island.
The “landscape ruin” part of the guiding concept clarifies that the Board’s intent is not to restore the landscape to a particular period—which would necessitate choosing a single historic period from the many layers of Rosedale’s landscape history. Rather, it recognizes the need to conserve specific surviving landscape features that were integral to different periods in Rosedale’s long history.
The plans for the property are focused on caring for and adding to the plant material on the site. A number of ornamental trees and shrubs will be added in naturalistic arrangements along the perimeter of the property, leaving the middle section open both to highlight views of the Farmhouse and to support the property’s use as a village green. The chosen plant material reflects choices that are historically appropriate to the site, with a specific focus on the Colonial and Colonial Revival periods of landscape design. Once in place, the new plants should blend seamlessly with the existing landscape, improving views in and out of the property and assisting in the creation of a rural oasis in the city.
The following is the key to the plan:
- Planting of this embankment to stabilize the slope against erosion and add pretty spring color.
- Adding some ornamental trees along the Newark Street fence line to improve the view at this end of the property.
- A new “allee” Creating a new allee between the existing pear trees, which are fragile and break down with age.
- Creating a new planting bed here to assist in screening this corner and providing a stopping point for the eye at the end of the driveway.
- Adding trees such as dogwood, hornbeam, and white oak in this area to improve screening and to provide a variety of foliage interest.
- Augmenting the lilac stands with additional shrubs, such as mock orange, rose of sharon and fothergilla.
- Culling selected American boxwood to reveal the intersection of the upper and lower terrace.
- Pruning the English boxwoods currently obscuring the top of the ramp to reduce their size and enhance the view of the historic Farmhouse.
- Installing a new, more appropriate fence on top of the high stone wall by the Newark Street gate.
- Planting a variety of tree species to provide screening for lot 21, east of the farmhouse.