The Smithsonian Institution has recognized the Bird Homestead with inclusion in its prestigious Archives of American Gardens.
The Smithsonian Institution has recognized the Bird Homestead with inclusion in its prestigious Archives of American Gardens. Through the efforts of the Little Garden Club of Rye, the Homestead is now part of this important collection, which documents 6,300 gardens in photographs, plans, and illustrations to preserve and highlight significant aspects of gardening in the United States.
The Garden Club of America, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, documents gardens for potential inclusion in the Smithsonian Archives through the work of its members. The Little Garden Club of Rye is a member club.
Nature photographer Nadia Valla, chair of the Little Garden Club’s Garden History and Design Committee, recorded the Bird Homestead landscape over a year. She captured the bloom of the beautiful remnants of early 20th-century gardens and prepared the photographs for submission to the Smithsonian. Anne Stillman, president of the Bird Homestead nonprofit, collaborated with her to write the descriptive text.
Naturalist Alison Beall, curator emerita of Marshlands Conservancy, and her assistant Megan Aitchison documented all the plant life on the property as it emerged throughout the year. Beall prepared the list of species with both their Latin and common names for the submission to the Smithsonian.
Historically, the Bird Homestead contained extensive vegetable and ornamental gardens, fruit trees, and grape arbors. The heirloom Concord grape vines are still productive. The Bird Homestead also has a unique garden feature tied to Henry Bird’s scientific investigations. He maintained specialized plantings to attract the insects he was studying, including the impressive stand of ferns still growing outside his library window.
“We are thrilled to have the Bird Homestead included in the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens,” said Stillman. “It is a tribute to the horticultural expertise of Henry Bird and his daughter Alice Bird Erikson. The photographs also provide an important baseline for future restoration of the gardens and retention of a perimeter habitat buffer.”