Paca House in Annapolis, a Georgian mansion comprised of five parts, was constructed by William Paca in the 1760's. Paca was the third governor of Maryland and one of the state's Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Beginning in 1965, Historic Annapolis carefully restored the house, and it is considered today to be one of the country's finest eighteenth century homes. It was designated in 1971 as a National Historic Landmark. Guided tours that reveal the inner workings life in an upper-class household during colonial and revolutionary Annapolis are offered to visitors.
Using details taken from archeological excavations and historic artwork, the William Paca Garden was also carefully restored to its original grandeur. The two-acre picturesque oasis provides a welcomed retreat from the busy city. Within the garden, guests can see heirloom and native plants while strolling through the formal parterres of the terraced landscape, the useful Kitchen Garden, and the naturalistic Wilderness. The garden's Summerhouse charmingly beckons visitors to cross over a latticework bridge above a fish-shaped pond.
After being intrigued by details of the William Paca Garden in the background of a 1772 portrait of Paca by Charles Willson Peale, researchers reconstructed the garden from a number of archeological digs. Brick walls enclose a terrace series commonly found in colonial gardens throughout the Chesapeake region. The highest terrace acts as a viewing platform and a space for entertainment. Below this terrace are several parterres. The Boxwood and Holly Parterres offer structure year-round with their painstakingly shaped evergreen plants. Three seasons of colorful flowers are provided in the Flower Parterre, while heirloom varieties fill the Rose Parterre.
Reconstructed from the portrait of Paca, the Summerhouse is the garden's focal point. The latticework, Chinese-style bridge serves as a path over the pond to the beckoning garden retreat. Situated in the Wilderness, the setting around the Summerhouse reflects a picturesque gardening style that was popular in England after the year 1740. Meandering between mixed beds are serpentine pathways for guests to leisurely walk. Today, the emphasis in the garden is on native North American plants that by Paca's time, had been brought into cultivation.
William Paca constructed water features into his garden to channel and contain the property's natural runoff. Once again, a small brick canal carries the water away like it did during Paca's time. A several-centuries old natural spring feeds the pond and is sheltered by a springhouse. Plants used during the eighteenth century are known from letters and books. Annuals, perennials, and roses in the garden's parterres represent what would have been available during the colonial period.
The Kitchen Garden at Paca House and Garden provides a variety of fresh produce, such as melons, peas, and salad greens. Heirloom varieties of figs, cherries, plums, pears, and apples can be found in the fruit garden, and have been meticulously trained into cordons and espaliers to best utilize the limited space of an urban garden. The garden is often used to celebrate holidays, special events, and weddings, as well as educational programming.
186 Prince George Street, Annapolis, Maryland, Phone: 410-990-4543
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