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Institute Park, Under Construction

Institution Park in Worcester, Massachusetts began with a bequest from Stephen Salisbury III in 1887.  Salisbury, of the famous Worcester family, intended to create a park that bordered the Worcester Polytechnic Institute but at the same time would be open to the public.  One condition of his bequest however was that he would take charge of the Park’s design, according to Evelyn Herwitz in Trees at Risk.  The Park has a fascinating history which you can read about at the web site of the Friends of Institute Park.  I was not aware for instance that there was once a tower on the grounds and that there was a bridge to the island in the pond at the Park.  As the history also reveals, however, like most other parks, it’s been a long and winding road, with periods of reinvigoration followed by neglect.  I’ve come to understand that that’s the nature of the beast, as Herwitz details in Trees at Risk.  The important point is that it’s not always neglect.  Neglect breeds activism.  In the absence of the activism, we’ve got a real problem.  Happily, Institue Park is now undergoing some significant reinvigoration which you can read about here.  We visited the Park recently.  I focus here not on the renovations, which are coming along, but the experience of the Park as it was, which illustrates to me both the beauty of it’s design, as well as its need for a bit of sprucing up.

To me, the carefully planted rows of great trees has always been the hallmark of the Park.  That being said, for others, I’m sure the Pond is the centerpiece.

The banks of the Pond are home to a wide variety of wildflowers, really doing their thing this time of year.  These are “spotted joe-pye-weed”, at least that’s what Chris thinks.  Identifying these things isn’t as easy as it might seem.  (But I just wanted so much to use the name “spotted joe-pye-weed.”  You have to love the names of wildflowers.  That’s got to be a story in and of itself.  At any rate, if we’re wrong about the name, please post a comment.)

Many of the trees standout on their own as character trees. If only these trees could talk…

But alas, some of them are beyond the talking stage.

The life of an urban tree is not an easy one as Herwitz points out.  Institute Park was first developed roughly 120 years ago, so it is inevitable that the population of trees turns over.  Again, this is where we come in.  Places that matter require our attention.  We are grateful that Institute Park is receiving some needed attention and anxiously await the results.

Tech note:  Shot on Kodak Ektar 100 film, believe it or not.

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