To the editor:

More of Salem’s interesting history continues to unfold in its street names. How did Salem get streets named “Nursery” and “Orchard”?

Many people may not realize that at one time horticulture became very popular in Salem. In 1833, the Essex County Natural History Society was formed, soon holding scheduled exhibitions of flowers and fruit.

Salem took no back seat in these shows, especially in North Salem, where you now see street names as permanent markers of Salem’s participation in the world of horticulture: namely, Nursery, Woodside and Orchard streets.

Both Nursery and Woodside streets were opened through the former well-known nursery of Ephraim Woods, who grew ornamental, shade and fruit trees. Two varieties of fruit that placed him in the limelight were the Nodhead apple and the Lady Washington pear. He exported trees by the shipload. He also planted many shade trees here in Salem.

Orchard Street, from Dearborn to Orne streets, was first listed in the 1872 Salem directory. It memorializes the extensive orchard owned by Robert Manning, maternal uncle of Nathaniel Hawthorne and a charter member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Mr. Manning’s orchard consisted roughly of 3,000 trees. Of pears alone, he grew 1,000 varieties. His “New England Fruit Book,” first published in 1838 with subsequent editions, is essentially a descriptive catalog of the varieties of fruits best suited for cultivation in New England.

After Manning’s death his children carried on his work — first his award-winning son Robert, and then his daughter Rebecca, who received honorary membership in the Salem Garden Club for her work in the Manning orchard, or “pomological garden,” as it was called. (She lived to be almost 99 years old.)

Joseph Cabot, a former mayor of Salem for whom Cabot Farm in North Salem is named, had a summer estate there, where he may have grown some or all of his 600 varieties of tulips. From 1852 to 1857, he was president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

With a history of showcase gardens in the neighborhood, North Salem had earned its blue ribbon in the flower world.

But there is more: At some point in the past, Greenlawn Cemetery, with supervision by Mr. F. Carroll Sargent, was planted with numerous varieties of unusual plants, including ornamental and exotic trees and shrubs that have continued to serve as an attraction. This arboretum is a real resource for the city.

Note: More information on Salem’s gardens can be found in the book “Old Salem Gardens” (1946) by the Salem Garden Club.

Jeanne Stella


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