Boylston, MA

Ryan Associates worked closely with Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA to create a space where people of all abilities can engage directly with the botanical experience.

Thirteen plasma-cut corten steel screens form the ceremonial entrance to the Garden. These screens, designed in collaboration with artist Laura Baring-Gould and illustrator Natalya Zahn, depict an abstraction of plant forms common to the Apiaceae family. This family includes a number of herbs and vegetables that are planted in the Garden and elsewhere at Tower Hill.

The primary organizational element in the Garden is a serpentine sequence of raised planting beds. These beds contain plants which offer distinctive sensory experiences such as smell and texture. A continuous seat wall allows for visitors to access the garden beds from a seated position while also providing ample seating for other garden events. This planter also creates the backbone for a fully accessible walkway which allows for a graceful negotiation of the difference in elevation between the entrance to the Stoddard Center and the entrance to the 18th century farmhouse which is 2’ higher.

Water plays an important role in the Garden by providing visual, auditory and tactile experiences. Centrally located in the main planting bed, a stepped fountain creates movement and sound. Closer to the entrance, a 7’ diameter circular fountain invites visitors to interact directly with the water. Bronze sculptural pieces by artist Laura Baring-Gould evoke a New England pond ecosystem with lily pads, frogs and turtles.

Additional garden features include a standing planting table, height adjustable hanging planters, a tactile planter designed for guests who are visually impaired and a lush vertical garden wall filled with ornamental and edible plants.

Initial concept design for the garden was created by wHY Architects in New York. Ryan Associates further developed the design and oversaw the documentation and construction processes.