About The Arboretum

Mary M.B. Wakefield Charitable Trust Logo

The Mary May Binney Wakefield Arboretum takes its name and purpose from Mary “Polly” Wakefield, who lived most of her life at the historic Davenport estate. Following Polly's death in 2004, the purpose of the Mary May Binney Wakefield Arboretum was established, according to her will, to carry on the legacy of Polly Wakefield and her vision for a citizenry engaged and knowledgeable about the environment surrounding it.

Polly was an advocate and leader on many environmental issues of her day. She was a trained horticulturist and landscape designer who loved to design gardens and experiment with shrubs and tress, most notably Kousa Dogwoods. Two of the most highly praised dogwood cultivars today, “Greensleeves” and “Fanfare,” were actually propagated and patented by Polly.

In one of her writings, Polly wrote “America is rapidly becoming a nation of spectators and a nation of consumers. To maintain the American tradition, we must return to participation and creativity. Milk wasn’t born in a bottle nor eggs in a carton nor beans in a box. Let us organize to re-establish the contact between the land and the people.”

The organization carries out Polly’s wishes and vision to transform her family's historic property into a place of life-long participatory learning. Over the past twelve years we have reached out to community members, building relationships with a number of organizations and developing programs that take advantage of the many learning opportunities that this cultural landscape provides. We have provided internships to graduate students from Boston University and Simmons College who have carried out archival and archaeological research. We have hired summer youth interns who worked hard to reinvigorate the property's landscape. We have hosted open houses and tours to welcome in neighbors and area residents to brainstorm with us new programming that meets the interests of surrounding communities.

During the past several years, the organization has hosted a wide array of programs and we are proud of our accomplishments:

  • Provided our full-day environmental education program to over 1,700 children from Boston Public Schools, opening eyes, ears and minds to the wonders of nature;
  • Welcomed all of Milton’s 5th graders as part of Milton’s local history program;
  • Celebrated our most successful signature event Dogwood Days, with over 1,200 visitors and garden enthusiasts from across the region;
  • Hosted the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Certified Horticulturalists;
  • Conducted our annual Summer Archaeology Institute, providing high school-age youth the rare opportunity to dig alongside archaeologists from Boston University here at the estate;
  • Completed exterior renovation projects on the John Davenport farmhouse and the Isaac Davenport mansion, preserving these historic structures for many years to come;
  • Provided new and engaging community programs, including workshops, tours, garden presentations and our new “Summer Garden Music” series.

You can read about most of our recent events and more from the past few years by visiting our news archive. In the coming year, we will offer some of these again as well as a number of new programs. For a list of upcoming events, please visit our calendar.

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