As with the perennial garden, the annual garden was created in 1911 under the direction of park superintendent, George Parker. This area had been the nursery section of the Farmstead. The 1911 garden design is only seen in old photographs and postcards, and it was quite different than it is today. It was linear in design with rectangular beds close together and one main path running east to west. Today’s plan has a center circle with crescent-shaped beds, which are quite interesting. This garden does double duty as the tulip garden for a spring show and the annual garden for summer and fall.
In mid-October, the Conservancy oversees the planting of over 11,000 tulips, which are ordered in the summer. When the tulips are in bloom in early May, the sight is quite spectacular. When the tulips die back, they are dug up to make way for the annual garden. Bulbs are sold in bags to the public.
For formal gardens, it is better to replant new ones in the fall, as tulips do not always rebloom. At this scale, it is feasible to organize and store them. This also gives us the opportunity to change the colors and patterns. After the tulips are gone, the annual garden is planted.
During the winter, the Conservancy horticulturist and the city gardeners plant annuals from seed in the greenhouses. Seeds are ordered in the late fall by the horticulturist, and unique flowers are selected. By June, the annuals are ready to be planted in the garden. Again, the flowers are changed each year to make the beds different. The annual garden blooms all summer into the fall. In early October, the annuals are removed by the staff, and the soil is rototilled to make room for the tulip bulbs to be planted.