The Fuller Gardens rose bushes – 2,000 of them – come into bloom in June.
It was, it seems, a matter of getting joy from other people’s enjoyment.
When Alvan and Viola Fuller, back in the 1930s, designed gardens for their seaside summer estate in North Hampton, they placed a sizeable garden in front of the house, next to the road, so passersby could enjoy its beauty.
It’s said that they would take great pleasure at looking out their bedroom windows to watch people walk through the garden.
But Alvan – a pioneer in the car business (he originated Washington’s Birthday sales), a two-term governor of Massachusetts and friend of Teddy Roosevelt – wasn’t satisfied with his “front” garden so he hired the Olmstead Brothers, who had designed New York City’s Central Park, to make it more of a showpiece. As a partner in the firm reported at the time: “Mr. Fuller wants the garden design revamped so that even more color can be seen from the road as you drive by.”
Their work turned the gardens into what was then described, and still is, as a “seaside gem.” Over the years the gardens were added to by others and in 1962 the house was removed (according to the Fullers’ wishes), opening up yet more garden space, now at two and a half acres. Aside from the more than 2,000 rose bushes (approximately 125 varieties of them), the Colonial Revival-style gardens include a dahlia display garden, formal English perennial borders, a Japanese garden with a Koi pond, a public conservatory and more.
Jamie Colen, director of Fuller Gardens, says there are blooms there all summer, even rose blooms. “It’s not as hard as you think to keep rose bushes blooming,” he says. Constant deadheading is one of the secrets to it.
More than 10,000 people visit the gardens each year, many of them taking workshops that are given almost every day. Also, staff members are available to answer questions when people are roaming the gardens.
“It’s one of the last working formal estate gardens of the early 20th century,” says Colen. “It’s a great place to cool off on a summer day and take a step back into history