I never met my Syracuse grandfather. He was an osteopath and died before my time. But I often heard about his avocation, a remarkable alpine garden.
A garden needs a gardener, and it is understandable that the garden would fall apart after my grandfather’s death. But in recent years, neighbors got together to reconceive a garden on the site. In June 2007, their efforts paid off, with the mayor announcing the dedication of a memorial park.
“The Dr. James P. Burlingham Memorial Park will be officially dedicated on Saturday, June 30, 2007 … This park, formerly Gray Park, was originally a 2 acre meadow behind the house of Dr. Burlingham, which he slowly developed into flower gardens and a world famous alpine plant region in his spare time in the 1920s. … A small group of individuals from the neighborhood … decided to bring the park back to its original appearance with flower gardens and plants. … As part of the dedication ceremony on Saturday one of the doctor’s daughters, who is 94 years old, is expected to attend.”
There’s a passage on the garden in Remembering Syracuse, by Dick Case.
A gardening gene runs in the family. My son has it, both from my side and his father’s. As part of John’s interest in identifying mystery plants in his own yard, he came up with a crowd-sourcing solution. Today, if you upload a photo to Mister Smarty Plants, you can see if someone on the Internet knows what your plant is. Check it out.