large contemporary hamilton7:30 pm (Berwick Academy)
In 1934 the Piscataqua Garden Club hosted a Garden Club of America tour opening thirty-three properties to four hundred fellow gardeners from across the country. Using photographs by Marvin Breckinridge and John Mead Howells, horticulturists Gary and Nancy Wetzel, who care for four of the properties today, will provide a view of seacoast gardens then and now.

Photo by Gary Wetzel

Two regional horticulturists from South Berwick will alternate places at the podium talking about a 1934 Garden Club of America tour of our region's gardens. The richly illustrated lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7:30 pm Thursday, Jan. 27.

In a lecture called "The Colonial Revival Seacoast Garden: Photographs from the 1934 Garden Club of America Tour,” Gary and Nancy Wetzel will talk about how the Piscataqua Garden Club 76 years ago hosted a Garden Club of America tour, opening 33 properties to 400 fellow gardeners.

Sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society, the program will be held at Berwick Academy's Jeppesen Science Center on Academy Street. Refreshments will be served by volunteers.

Images by local photographers Marvin Breckinridge and John Mead Howells were used in the July 1934 tour guidebook, while other images in publications of the day documented and idealized the tour landscapes.

Through these photographs, the Wetzels will provide a view of early 20th Century garden culture, exploring classic grounds components such as paths and borders, phlox and lilies, pergolas and outdoor rooms. They will also feature cameos of selected properties now and then. The gardens, four of which are now tended today by the Wetzels, are located from the Yorks to South Berwick, Rollinsford, Kittery Point, Portsmouth and Newburyport.

Gary Wetzel began his landscape work at Historic New England’s 1678 Coffin House in Newbury, Mass. in 1979 and has served as Piscataqua landscape manager since 1981. Working among such treasures as the 200-year-old terraces of the Rundlet-May House in Portsmouth, NH; the sugar-maple allee at the c. 1800 Barrett House in New Ipswich, NH; and the rose arbor on the grounds of 1784 Langdon House in Portsmouth; Gary’s current favorite is the on-going restoration of the early 20th century landscape at Hamilton House.

Nancy Wetzel is a gardener whose practice includes the gardens at the house museum for a 19th Century writer; an 18th Century tidewater farm under conservation; and a colonial property with flowerbeds inspired by a Chinese puzzle. Nancy is also a writer and speaker specializing in garden history.

The upcoming program is part of the Old Berwick Historical Society's 2011 series of talks, walks and historical events. The series, supported by member donations, includes seven monthly evening presentations as well as other local history events around South Berwick.

More information on the Counting House Museum and all the Old Berwick Historical Society's programs is available at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by calling (207) 384-0000.

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