Earlier this year, the Madison mayor and board of aldermen approved the creation of a botanical garden around the Montgomery House that was acquired by the city.
Alan Hoops, Director of Environment and Design said the first phase of the gardens is expected to be completed by the end of this year using the America in Bloom grant money. The grant of $25,000 was awarded to the city for the project and the city matched the grant amount. The total of $50,000 needs to be spent by the end of this year.
“We have been working continuing to develop the plan, cleaning up the site and getting ready to actually install the plant beds and irrigation and hopefully get the walking trail in by the end of the year,” Hoops said.
So far, the plan has been designed, the walking trail has been roughed in using a small tractor, and the property has been cleaned up by taking down dead or unhealthy trees and clearing out the vines.
“There is still a little bit of clean up to do but basically that’s about all we’ve done,” Hoops said.
The plans were delayed by the excessive amount of rain the area received this summer, but Hoops said this hasn’t changed anything and they still should finish by the end of the year. Although cooler weather is approaching, Hoops said this shouldn’t affect their plans either.
“If we get a lot of rain, it will be a problem, but the cooler weather is when you want to plant because the plants are dormant,” Hoops said. “You want to put them in the ground while it’s cooler, as long as it doesn’t get a hard freeze because it could affect the roots.”
The first phase, which will open to the public in the spring and is funded by the grant, will include the walking trail, planted trees and large shrubs, and some irrigation. The next steps, which they hope to complete in January and February, will be putting in the various plants. Hoops said he has begun talking to nurseries about these plans.
“Hopefully we will be getting more money and be able to start putting in more plants,” Hoops said. “We do plan to do some fundraisers, but we just don’t know what those are going to look like yet.”
The total cost for the entire project is estimated to be $300,000. This amount would complete the plans for the planting and irrigation for the entire property which would include a large gazebo, a parterre garden in the back of the Montgomery House and a pollinator garden to the side. These plans would be phases three and four.
Plans for the Montgomery House have yet to be finalized, but Hoops expects it will be a place where the public can host events and weddings. He said they still have time to decide what all the house will be used for. Currently they are working on maintaining the house. The house currently has a new roof, fresh paint and other maintenance. Hoops said when the house was purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery, it was furnished with very nice antique furniture that will be featured in the home.
“Mr. and Mrs. (Hugh) Montgomery were an amazing family and a big part of the city of Madison and they left [the house] to us to become a historic landmark to some extent,” Hoops said. “We are really glad they left that, and we are going to hopefully continue and enhance what they started 80 years ago when the house was built.”
As the plans continue for the gardens and the house, Hoops said they are working to create something people will be proud of and use to relax in. It is meant to expand on the park space Madison already has, but also to not be an active park space.
“There is a desire in the city to have places for people to spend time, take kids, and educate people,” Hoops said. “This will be more of a passive place, not necessarily going there to exercise or play sports. This will be a place to stroll and sit and to enjoy the garden.”