Parks & Greenery Offers Prescott Park Garden Tours

July 12, 2022

Now that the gardens of Prescott Park are nearing their summer peak, following weeks of planting, weeding and cultivation, the City of Portsmouth Parks & Greenery Department is inviting the public to join members of the gardening team for free weekly tours of the formal gardens.

The garden tours are offered on Fridays at 11 am and 1 pm and started on July 8. The one-hour tour starts at the Liberty Pole on Marcy Street and then explores 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, identifying plants and explaining plant selection and care.

The gardens at Prescott Park were created when the Prescott Sisters purchased the waterfront acreage in the 1930s and willed it to the City in 1954 for public enjoyment. In 1975, at the suggestion of then-Park Supervisor Michael Warhurst, the Trustees of the park agreed to invite UNH 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 ten years ago, but the City continued to purchase All-American Selections seeds and had the plants grown-out in the greenhouses of UNH.  The formal gardens continue to be planted with annuals purchased locally by the City and maintained by Parks & Greenery with help from seasonal staff.

“The gardens of Prescott Park serve the purpose of being both beautiful and educational,” said Corin Hallowell, Parks & Greenery Foreman for the City of Portsmouth. “We are happy to identify the plants and flowers so visitors who might want to choose something similar for their own gardens know what they are; and we are always happy to share more information. The Friday tours are an ideal way for residents and visitors to get answers to their questions about the gardens in the Park.”

TripAdvisor reviews name the Prescott Park gardens as the #6 “thing to do” in Portsmouth with comments such as “The colors and layouts are simply stunning and rival the best gardens in England. This is just an incredibly nice and relaxing attraction for a bright sunny day. Don't miss it. And bring your camera.” 

Prescott Park Gardens