Parts of Jones Library’s Kinsey Memorial Garden moving to Kestrel HQ

  • Elements of the Kinsey Memorial Garden at the rear of the Jones Library are probably headed to Kestrel Land Trust’s offices in South Amherst. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/Carol Lollis

Staff Writer
Published: 2/28/2022 7:02:08 PM
Modified: 2/28/2022 7:01:41 PM

AMHERST — A garden installed outside the Jones Library in 1999 that pays tribute to a late University of Massachusetts international education professor, is likely to have many of its plants and other elements relocated to a South Amherst site in 2023.

With the project to expand and renovate the building at 43 Amity St. proceeding, and its likely impact on the downtown green space, library trustees unanimously approved an idea last week from Kestrel Land Trust that should lead to elements of the Kinsey Memorial Garden becoming part of the landscape at Kestrel’s 37 Bay Road headquarters.

Trustees President Austin Sarat said that the proposal from Kestrel, written on Jan. 17 and reviewed by the library’s Buildings and Facilities Committee, is a perfect solution for caring for the garden.

“We’re really grateful they’ve initiated this,” Sarat said.

Sarat also calls the plan an opportunity to celebrate a partnership between two beloved Amherst institutions.

The garden, situated behind the library and serving as a buffer to the CVS Pharmacy parking lot, was created by David Chapin Kinsey’s widow, Carol Pope, and financed with memorial funds donated to the library in Kinsey’s name and with money from the Friends of the Jones Library. While donations totaled $12,000, at the time the work was completed the former library director estimated the garden’s worth at around $50,000.

Pope and nearly 50 volunteers, including Kinsey’s colleagues and students, family, friends and members of the Garden Club of Amherst, helped dig out old shrubs, improve the soil, plant new shrubs, trees and perennials, and install stone paths and benches.

Kestrel’s proposal to move plants from the Kinsey Memorial Garden was developed because Pope is a longtime supporter of the land trust, according to a statement released on behalf of Kristin DeBoer, its executive director.

“Although we haven’t yet worked out the details, we anticipate moving selected plantings from the Kinsey garden to Kestrel’s land adjacent to the town of Amherst’s Sweet Alice Conservation Area, along the Pond Loop Trail that’s now accessible to the community,” DeBoer said. “While it’s not practical to recreate the Kinsey Memorial Garden in the new location, we plan to include signage that will acknowledge the origin of the plantings.”

The library trustees’ Buildings and Facilities Committee recommends that the Gardens Advisory Committee, which has been established to examine all aspects of the landscape at the Jones, be involved in coordinating and planning the move, including the selection of plants and hardscapes, such as benches and Goshen stone, that can be moved.

Trustee Alex Lefebvre said the project seems like an incredible opportunity due to the extensive disturbance anticipated in the garden by the building project. “It was a mutually exciting happy occurrence,” she said.

The memorial garden has been referred to as a “botanically sophisticated garden” by residents concerned with the scope of the library project. Among its plantings are a forest pansy variety of redbud tree, and rare varietals including cyclamens, hellebores and astilbes, planted alongside daylilies and ornamental grasses.

A grove of Japanese maples is also in the garden, with varieties that have red, orange or yellow foliage in the fall, though some have red leaves year-round.

The fate of the garden has been a worry for several years, with Town Meeting in 2016 issuing an advisory to preserve the garden and create the Kinsey Garden Committee, with horticultural experts and gardeners to care and advocate for it.

Trustees said Pope has informed library officials that Kestrel’s plan is acceptable to her.


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