Prescott Park gardens

After weeks of planting, weeding and cultivation, the 34 formal garden beds on the south lawn of Prescott Park in Portsmouth are in full bloom.

PORTSMOUTH — The city of Portsmouth Parks and Greenery Department invites the public to join members of the gardening team for free weekly tours of the formal gardens that are in their summertime peak.

Tours will be offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Fridays, Aug. 9-23, beginning at the Liberty Pole on Marcy Street. The tours will lead to the extensive garden beds of the South Lawn and the formal garden planted around the anchor at the end of Prescott Park, closest to the river. While discussing the plants and care that goes into maintaining the gardens, the Parks & Greenery staff will answer questions, identify plants and explain plant selection and care.

The gardens at Prescott Park were created after the Prescott Sisters purchased the waterfront acreage in the 1930s and willed it to the city in 1954. In 1975, at the suggestion of then-Park Supervisor Michael Warhurst, the park’s trustees invited the University New Hampshire to move its All-American Selections Program trial gardens from Madbury to Prescott Park, and created 40 formal garden beds on the South Lawn of Prescott Park. Those trial gardens, planted with “a living catalog of flowers,” were designed to study which varieties of specific ornamental plants performed best in the Seacoast environment.

The formal association with the All-American Selections Program ended about 10 years ago. Now the formal gardens are planted with annuals purchased locally by the city and maintained by Parks & Greenery with help from seasonal staff.