Part I: Rachel Carson's Spring Garden
On the one piece of land in Maryland that Rachel Carson could call her own, she built her Silver Spring home in 1957. It was in this house designed to her specifications where she resided during the last 7 years of her life. Here is where she installed favorite spring plants, where she cared for Roger, her adopted son, where her mother Maria died in 1958, where she wrote Silent Spring, where she was interviewed by Eric Severeid for the CBS Reports program, "The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson" and where she lost her valiant battle against cancer on April 14, 1964. As the birthplace of Silent Spring, this house has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Rachel intended for the grounds around her home to be a naturalistic garden and wildlife preserve. After 1958 when she started working on Silent Spring, she took precious moments from her busy task to focus on gardening but could not give it her full attention. When health problems restricted her activities, a loyal colleague helped Rachel with her garden chores. The plantings that she chose were of a personal nature. Her garden preferences became known through her correspondence with Dorothy Freeman which were published in book form as Always, Rachel. She wanted an undisturbed habitat for birds and frogs on a significant portion (1/3) of her land. Today this portion remains as Rachel preferred-wild.
In describing plans for the garden in her new home, Rachel wrote to Dorothy: "My development of the place will probably be considered unconventional, but at least the mistakes will be my own, not hired ones!" (4/9/57 Always, Rachel)
She wrote further, "Yes - a whole corner left as a wild tangle, wet underfoot for birds and frogs. And few if any, formal beds or borders." (4/9/57 Always, Rachel)
Rachel's Maryland spring garden included the following:
- Wood Hyacinths (Scilla nonscripta)
- Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia)
- Bleeding Heart
- Flowering Quince