Join us for the Arts Council’s continuing Paint Out Princeton program on Saturday May 19th, at Marquand Park, Lovers Lane; Ages: 15+; time: 12:30-5:00 pm. Marquand Park is a beautiful 17-acre arboretum characterized by wide gently sloping lawns, winding paths and over 140 different tree specimens, among them flowering cherry trees, magnolias and some rare evergreens. In the wooded area you will find huge native trees, some dating back over 170 years! The public will be invited to visit and observe artists at work! Please email timevtim@gmail or email@example.com with any questions. This is a free event that requires pre-registration.
seasons in the park
In 1842, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society held its annual exhibit in a building that was originally the Chinese museum of Philadelphia. Covering the show, the Farmers’ Cabinet** reported an Urania Speciosa, a banana-like plant donated by Richard S. Field of Princeton as one of the star attractions. The plant must have been quite tall because the report notes that there was fortunately enough space for its towering stalks in the large exhibition room with high ceilings. A year earlier, a description of important green houses in Princeton*** lists an Urania Speciosa among a collection of plants in the hot-house of Richard S. Field. Thus, we can safely assume that this Urania Speciosa was the same plant as the one entered into the show in Philadelphia a year later. Richard Field who is also the first owner and creator of what is now Marquand Park, may have carefully cultivated this exotic and rare species to be exhibited in the show.
The Urania Speciosa or Ravenala madagascariensis (also known as the Traveler’s tree) is a tropical plant with large paddle-shaped leaves arranged like a giant fan. Although already mentioned in the 17th century by explorers traveling to Madagascar, it was carefully described and illustrated for the first time by Pierre Sonnerat in his Voyages aux Indes orientales et à la Chine of 1782. Arboreta like Kew Garden in London and Les Jardin des Plantes in Paris had an Urania Speciosa in their collection in the 19th century. They were considered rare and exotic specimens. Richard Field was an active collector of plants and trees and well known for his horticultural interests. Privately owning and exhibiting such a plant must have been especially thrilling for him.
**The Farmers’ Cabinet, and American Herd-book: Devoted to …, Volume 7; edited by Francis S. Wiggins, James Pedder, Josiah Tatum, 1842, p. 103
***The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries …, Volume 7; edited by M. Hovey, Boston 1841, p. 123.
On November 28, 2017, Pamela Machold gave an important lecture on the life on Eleanor Marquand (1873-1950) for the Garden club of Princeton. Eleanor Marquand was the wife of Allan Marquand, the third owner of Guernsey Hall and the adjacent land that is now Marquand Park. Her activities and contributions to this community were numerous. She served among others on the Princeton Board of Education, was a member of the board of the State Hospital in Trenton, and became an active member of the Village Improvement Association.
We know little about Eleanor Marquand’s formal education but she was recognized during her life time as an accomplished horticultural specialist and plant historian Her careful investigation of the flora of the Unicorn tapestries in the Cloisters, in NY, resulted in the identification of 46 plant species and their symbolic meaning in the Middle Ages. During her lifetime, she lectured on plant illustrations and published several articles in horticultural journals. In addition, her memberships in organizations such as New York Botanical Society, the Garden Club of America, the Horticultural Society of New York and the Garden Club of Princeton, of which she was a charter member, confirm her life long passion for plants and formal gardens.
Eleanor Marquand lived at Guernsey Hall most of her life and must have played an important role in decisions concerning the acquisition of trees and shrubs on the property. In 1917 she did a careful inventory of plants and trees on the estate; her index cards and a map with the location of the plants and trees are preserved in the Princeton University library. They clearly show that she was intimately familiar with the flora around Guernsey Hall. We hope that comparing this map with another inventory of the early 1950s, completed shortly after Eleanor’s death and around the time the property was bequeathed by the Marquand family to the town of Princeton, will provide an opportunity to study how the park changed in the first half of the 20th century.
I ran into Mary while the sun was rapidly descending behind the trees. She had filled her canvas with a dense row of trees catching some of the changing colors finally showing after some cool nights. While she was packing up her tools, the last rays of the sun caught the pine cones above our heads. You can find more of Mary’s work on her website: www.MaryWaltham.com.
The winterberries (ilex verticillata) in the Lovers Lane/ Stockton corner of the park were showing their bright red fruits this week. The berries ripen late in the season and sometimes can still be seen on the shrubs in the wintertime. Until they fully ripen, birds do not touch them because they do not taste good. Winterberries are native to swampy areas in North America.
Several very dry summers (not this one!!!) has raised concern for the survival of recently planted trees. Until this year the drinking fountain near the sandbox was the only acces to water in the park. Our board member, Andrew Sutphen, remembered the existence of another drinking fountain in the park he used in his childhood. He did some nifty detective work to uncover the location of old water pipes in the park. They were still in good shape! With the assistance of the town and a plumber, we have access to municipal water in two more locations. To protect the soil around the water spigots, we surrounded each spigot with a small bed of small river pebbles. Future planting projects will become much easier to manage with easier access to water.