Girded on one end by Massachusetts Avenue, on the other by Harvard Street, and traversed at its western length by a publicly accessible foot path, the property surrounding the home of the congregation of the Old Cambridge Baptist Church and the José Mateo Ballet Theatre is anything but secret or hidden.
The present gardens, designed in consultation with Boston-based landscape designer Ann Uppington, comprise 17 planting beds, all maintained through organic land practices. A rainwater recovery system harvests rain off of the roof, to prevent flooding in the building; it also is the source of water for irrigation of the gardens.
Foundation plantings of flowering, deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, as well as numerous perennials and some annuals, provide natural interest and botanical variety throughout the year. The plantings attract several species of birds, as well as bees, butterflies, and other insects. A wide range of flowering perennials affords visual delight and supplies fresh flowers from early spring to late fall for bouquets for church services, ballet programs and gifts to shut-ins. A not-so-welcome feature of nature is the invasion of a community of rabbits who destroy the tender shoots of all manner of plants, as well as help keep the grass short.
Landscaping and maintenance of the gardens, initially the combined labor of love of Scott Fraser, Managing Director of the José Mateo Ballet Theater, and Grace Peters, a volunteer from OCBC, continues under the direction of Grace, with the dedicated help of OCBC member Sue Schroen and other volunteers.
These gardens are intended for the enjoyment and spiritual nourishment of all who use the building, and those who live, work, visit or pass through the adjoining neighborhoods. Three garden benches offer places for guests to meet, sit, visit, meditate, and enjoy the well-tended natural surroundings.
Volunteer gardeners are welcomed. No previous experience required. Tools and gloves provided.