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Revitalizing an Olmsted Brothers-designed Park in Hartford


April 19, 2022

Garden Club of Hartford Helps Create Inviting Entrances to Keney Park

Beginning in 2014, the Garden Club of Hartford (GCH) launched what would become a multi-year project to revitalize the five entrances of Hartford’s Olmsted Brothers-designed, 693-acre Keney Park, one of the largest public parks in New England. The club’s Conservation Committee took inspiration from The Garden Club of America’s  Partners for Plants (P4P) program, which stipulated that a project was to center on replacing invasives with native species, preferably in a public space. The club ran a design contest for regional landscape design students, setting criteria for a winning plan to be consistent with the philosophy of the 1890’s firm of Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot and include native, pollinator-friendly trees and shrubs. 

In 2015, the GCH Civic Projects Committee (which took over the project from the Conservation Committee) partnered with Friends of Keney Park and Hartford’s Department of Public Works, and with P4P partial funding for the design competition and a $10,000 GCA Founders Fund grant, all five entrances have been planted, complete with beautiful and informative signs. The park is indeed more attractive and welcoming.  

In the years following the design contest, not only did the GCH implement the winning design, it began to think about best practices for land management to promote biodiversity at the park. A local environmental learning center agreed to teach classes for parks workers to educate them about the benefits of preserving and encouraging biodiversity. The classes, partially funded by the Founders Fund money, include hands on, outside work, and will continue through 2022. The Hartford City Council issued a proclamation in 2021 thanking the Garden Club of Hartford for efforts in educating the Department of Public Works staff.


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