The Buttrick Garden lies on the banks of the historical Concord River in Massachusetts, where in April of 1775 some of the first shots were fired in the American Revolution. Major John Buttrick was, in fact, the military leader who first ordered militia to fire upon the British at the North Bridge. “Fire, fellow soldiers, for God’s sake fire!” he is quoted as saying. At the time the war broke out, Buttrick was a well respected farmer whose family had resided in Concord for more than a hundred years.
The Buttrick family lived on the Liberty Road property from before the Revolutionary War until 1962, when the National Park Service purchased it and it became part of Minute Man National Historical Park. Included in the purchase was the Buttrick Garden and Mansion, not built by Major Buttrick but his great great grandson, Stedman Buttrick. The brick mansion, built in 1911, now serves as the park’s headquarters and visitor center.
Below: The sunken garden, featuring day lilies, peonies and other perennials, with the Buttrick mansion in the background.
According to articles in the 1950s and 1960s in National Geographic and Better Homes and Gardens magazines, the Buttrick garden was sublime, with peonies, day lilies and more than 200 varieties of bearded iris, many propagated by Buttrick himself. According to the accounts, the blue and white Buttrick irises appeared in a number of American and British flower shows.
Above: Boxwood frames the iris garden, now past its bloom.
Above: Peonies in pink and white mix with daylilies, iris and many other perennials at the Buttrick Garden, which spans several acres.
Above: One of the iron gates to the sunken garden shows some damage and is permanently locked.
Above: Cobblestones form circular shapes along the paths at the Buttrick Garden.
Above: Giant beech trees dot the landscape around the North Bridge Visitor Center at Minute Man National Park.
Years after the National Park Service took over the property, the historical Concord garden seems a little trodden and worn, and, frankly, in need of an upgrade and a just a little more loving care and nourishment. Cobblestone paths are in disrepair, garden beds are overcome with weeds and the once flourishing irises seem to be dwindling in numbers. How many of those original 200 varieties of irises, I wonder, are simply no more?
Still, the garden, the North Bridge and all of the park lands at Minute Man are still worthy of a lengthy and thoughtful visit. They are especially worthwhile this time of year, just before Independence Day, when perhaps we think most about our founding fathers and the birth of our country. This year, no doubt, I will be thinking freedom, liberty and just a little more compost under those peonies and irises, please.
If You Go:
The Buttrick Garden is located at Minute Man National Park in Concord, Massachusetts.