The dragonflies and honey bees were having a grand time in The Vietor Garden on Monday afternoon, flitting and buzzing among the daylilies, asters, and bee balm. They were so busy that they did not notice the gathering of a small group of people around the edges of the garden on this beautiful July day.
The dedication of the new Vietor Garden, given to Mystic Seaport in memory of Anna Glenn Butler and Alexander Orr Vietor by their family, under a cloudless sky, was the final piece in the Museum’s redevelopment of the north end of its grounds.
The ceremony began just after noon, and as the last of the Greenmanville Church’s 12 chimes on the hour died away, Museum President Steve White stood to speak.
“If you heard just now the church clock’s chimes, those have been a long time coming,” White said. “Thanks to the efforts of some volunteers and our staff those chimes have been restored. Those, and the dedication of this garden, are the final pieces to bring together this entire landscape. The Vietor Garden is the last piece to create a gorgeous place to be.”
The reworking of the north end into the McGraw Quadrangle was part of a longtime vision for Mystic Seaport, White noted. Anna and Alexander Vietor also had a vision for the Museum.
“Anna Glenn was an extraordinary philanthropist and we were so lucky that Mystic Seaport was a place she decided was deserving of support. Alexander spent 25 years as a trustee, and with the exception of one or two years, for 60 years we have had Vietors involved with our board. Alexander was very involved with the concept and construction of the G.W. Blunt Library in 1964, and Alexander and Anna were very involved with the creation of what has become our PILOTS program.”
In 1981, when Alexander passed away, he gifted his extensive logs and manuscripts collection to the Museum. Since then, Mystic Seaport has grown the collection from 10,000 volumes and 68,000 manuscripts to more than 75,000 volumes and 1 million manuscripts.
The garden was given by the Vietor children: David, Richard, Louise, Pauline, Alexander, and Martha. David Vietor spoke briefly at the dedication, expressing gratitude to Mystic Seaport for the opportunity to create the garden for the area, as horticulture was his mother’s passion. “She loved that gardens are continually renewing themselves, that cycle of life,” he said.
The garden was designed by Brian Kent of Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture of Mystic. Kent said the garden was planned to be sustainable, with plant combinations that replicate the natural landscape, showcasing Mrs. Vietor’s favorite colors, in a way that would be sustainable over the long term without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and little weeding. He jokingly invited the guests to come back in a year, saying that a new garden is a lot like “a 13-year-old boy. Lots of arms and legs and a big head and it looks like nothing goes together.”
Julia Jankowski, garden supervisor for the Museum, said that while there are 18 varieties of plants in the garden, there are more than 1,000 actual plants. It took two days, a squad of 12 volunteers, plus staff to plant the garden in the spring.
Mrs. Vietor’s Garden Plant List:
Veronicastrum virginicum – Culver’s Root
Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’- Aromatic Aster
Erigeron pulchellus – Robin’s Plantain
Hemerocallis x ‘Ice Carnival’- Daylily
Meehania cordata – Meehan’s Mint
Salvia x sylvestris ‘May Night’- Sage
Sesleria autumnalis – Autumn Moor Grass
Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’- Heath Aster
Waldsteinia fragarioides – Appalachian Barren Strawberry
Quercus bicolorr – Swamp White Oak
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’- Blue Switch Grass
Agastache foeniculum – Blue Giant Hyssop
Amsonia hubrichtii – Arkansas Blue Star
Baptisia australis – Blue False Indigo
Eryngium x ‘Big Blue’- Sea Holly
Liatrus spicata – Gayfeather
Monarda bradburiana – Eastern Bee Balm
Sporobolus heterolepis – Prairie Dropseed