Glocester Heritage Gardens | Glocester, RI
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In the summer of 2011, University of Rhode Island Master Gardener Jeff Rossi had the idea to create an 18th century medicinal garden on the grounds of the c. 1747 house. His appeal to the Glocester Heritage Society and the University of Rhode Island  Master Gardener Program led to the development of the Dr. Reuben Mason House Medicinal Garden in Chepachet, RI.  Jeff and his dedicated posse of Master Gardener volunteers have created what would appear to be a long-established, flourishing garden containing plants that would have been employed for their medicinal effects during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of Northern Rhode Island’s University of Rhode Island Master Gardener demonstration gardens is a place for the community to learn, admire and grow.

History of the Dr. Reuben Mason House can be found here.

Jeff's inspiration and cultivation inspired the Glocester Heritage Society and Master Gardeners to develop a new garden at the Job Armstrong home in Chepachet, RI. Planning is underway to develop a garden that would depict what a storekeeper may have grown in 1814 to help sustain a family. Construction will begin in spring 2017.

History of the Job Armstrong House can be found here.

About Us

We can be proud to say our projects have all been very self-sufficient. Everything in the garden has been donated by our MG members and community friends. ​We have all brought a piece of our own history to share with the community.

We will continue on with the philosophy that every member can make a contribution.

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People and Partners

URI Master Gardeners

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Glocester Heritage Society

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​Cultivate your gardening skills at Master Gardeners' Open House
Valley Breeze
August 16, 2016

URI Master Gardeners to host open houses at 16 public gardens
​Progressive Charleston
August 7, 2016

Master Gardener: The Dr. Reuben Mason Medicinal Garden, Chepachet
Providence Journal
February 14, 2014

Portfolio: Dr. Reuben Mason House
Northeast Collaborative Architects

Excavations at the ca. 1750 Dr. Rreuben Mason House, Glocester, Rhode Island

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Our Needs

Plant supports

Plant supports needed!

2012 The Adventure Begins

The Glocester Heritage Society received a $6100 grant from the neighboring Navigant bank to erect an authentic 18th-century fence in front of the 1747 Rueben Mason House. The University of Rhode Island Master Gardener’s Program agreed to take this on as a Master Gardener Volunteer Project. Our first meeting in June of 2012 between the Master Gardener volunteers and the Glocester Heritage Society, it was agreed a period garden would be created to reflect the years Dr. Rueben Mason lived there in the 1790s. Research would be done on each plant which would explain the use it would have in the 1790s, place of origin, growing conditions, description and a photo of it. This research would be placed on the Glocester Heritage Society website and used as a resource to the public. It was also decided Dr. Mason would be researched himself.  It was agreed the garden had to be both educational and a physical asset to the house.

A design was drawn up and the summer of 2012 was spent in hand laying stones in a formal colonial pattern that would be expected for the period. These stones were found on the property or brought in by volunteers.  The energy of the Master Gardener volunteers was relentless and the last stone was laid by the end of august of 2012. Generous amounts of compost were donated by Master Gardener's which brought life to the 250-year-old field which had almost turned to sand over the centuries.

By September of 2012, the Master Gardener's and a few Glocester Heritage Society members donated the first plants to the garden that are now part of its history. This garden was to be as accurate as possible so after thinking of a way to protect the newly planted plants a layer of native white pine needles was laid and all the plants survived the winter. The garden wintered well and the stone paths looked beautiful with the coming and going of snow cover over the winter.


2013 The Garden Shined

More compost and plants were donated by the Master Gardener volunteers and the energy rose even higher as the garden took on its own personality. Or better said the garden took on the personality of the dedicated volunteers.

The Glocester Heritage Society and the Master Gardener's combined abilities in May of 2013 and had the official opening of the garden. Tours were given of the garden to the public, vendors were welcome to sell their wares, the MGs did soil testing, a kiosk and a set up a special children’s area. In addition, a plant sale was held and the house was open to the public for tours. The Master Gardener's involved with the research of Dr. Mason did also this day present to the Glocester Heritage Society two-family tree charts of Dr. Mason and his family. These have been framed and will hang permanently in the house.

The garden was also asked to be part of the 2013 Master Gardener garden tour in July which attracted over 150 people in the two days. The biggest compliment and most common heard was that the garden looked like it had always been there.

September 2013 was another mark in history for the garden. The Master Gardener's, Glocester Heritage Society and the Glocester Land Trust combined their efforts and recreated history while making new history. The Glocester Heritage Society had photos from the late 19th century showing the exact spot a then 100-year-old elm tree was growing. On September 28th a Valley Forge Elm Tree was planted and is the first disease resistant elm tree to be publicly planted on Main Street. It is even more significant since it may be the only one as DEM has decided there will be no street trees as part of the new improved design of Main Street. On this day a lecture was given to the public on the Dutch Elm disease and tours of the garden and house. To add to appeal the tree had been nurtured along the past few years by a Master Gardener not even knowing it would end up at such a proud location.


2014 A Year of Growth

In May we started a small orchard.  5 fruit trees were planted and will be maintained and tended as done in the 18th century. The plan is to add more trees and donate the produce to the town’s food bank.

We continued on with our 2nd annual House and garden tour with our plant sale, kiosk, tours of the house and garden. Proceeds from the garden tour will go directly to the garden.

In September, the Master Gardener's repaired an original stone retaining wall in the rear of the house. In the crevices of the stone wall a collection of sedums were planted and a new perennial garden at its base that the Glocester Heritage Society has placed a memorial to a past founder for their society. This retaining wall originally held the corn crib which still stands on the property which was converted to a garage and moved to another location on the property and is unmovable in its current condition. Funds are urgently still needed to save the ancient post and beam structure.

The garden closed 2014 by donating a van full of plants to help start the new garden around the Betsy Williams cottage in Roger Williams Park in October. Master Gardener's from both projects worked together to ready the plants to their new city home.


2015 Giant Leaps

In May, the year started out with the garden donating plants to the Master Gardener Slater Mill garden project which a newly created garden is representing the same time period.

In June we celebrated the 3rd annual spring open house and garden tour in May with Kiosk, soil testing, tours of the garden and house. Again the proceeds went directly to the garden.

In June we were again part of the Master Gardener Garden Tour for the 2nd time and the house and garden visited by over 100 guest despite the torrential rains.

In August, the garden was represented by one of our volunteers on the WADK Radio where our garden was discussed in detail to the public.

In September the Master Gardener's had the opportunity in conjunction with the Glocester land trust to rescue a collection of plants from the c1797 Hawkins House that had been recently been torn down. These plants will be identified as plants from this property in the garden. This is amazing because our Dr. Mason was practicing medicine in town during the time this house was being built and very likely may have been his patients at that time.

From this encounter, the Glocester Land Trust would welcome the Master Gardener's to get involved with their future projects. This will again be a great service to the town and the surrounding communities.


2016 A New Venture

In 2016 a new project will start that has been approved by the Master Gardener board and funding has been found by the Glocester Heritage Society from the Champlain foundation.

A fence was erected at the Job Armstrong store which allows for a re-creation of a storekeepers garden.

Research is underway on what a storekeeper may have grown in 1814 to help sustain a family. Master Gardener's will design an appropriate design using early 19th century practices. It will be unique in its combination of sustaining a family but still maintain a certain formality alongside what was once the side main entrance to the living quarters at this time in history, it will represent not only the functionality to support the family but represent the formality in how Sunday was the day off and space for the family to relax after returning from one of the church Sunday services in town which still stand.

This will be an exciting location for this project as it is in the center of the historic district of Chepachet. It will have great exposure to the public and to people wandering through the antique shops and the Job Armstrong Store itself will serve as another learning center in the northwest center of the state.


2017 Changes

The year began with the merger of the two gardens; Reuben Mason House Medicinal Gardens and The Job Armstrong Store Shopkeepers Garden and it's new identification as "The Glocester Heritage Gardens".

We've acquired soil/compost for both gardens, a wheelbarrow for the Dr. Ruben Mason House and two pear trees. The fence at the Armstrong Store Shopkeepers Garden was painted, soil tested and research performed.

The Master Gardener volunteers will be busy bees preparing for the grand opening celebration of the Job Armstrong Store Shopkeepers Garden on September 9, 2017.




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1181 Main Street | PO Box 269 | Chepachet, RI 02814
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