Parking Gardens: Blending art and science to create a strong first impression

By Joe Longo
If you have ever visited Sandwich, Massachusetts, you have most likely heard of Heritage Museums & Gardens. The 100-acre property located in historic Sandwich Village is a premier destination for both residents and visitors alike. For over 45 years, Heritage has offered a network of nature trails, expansive landscaped gardens, special exhibit galleries and educational opportunities for all ages.
However, until recently, the entrance and main parking facility were out of character with the rest of the property. Heritage just completed the construction of a “green” parking improvement project that greatly enhances visitors’ experience as they enter the facility.
Horsley Witten Group worked with Heritage and project partners on the design, permitting, and construction oversight. The team built upon a Master Plan completed by Sasaki, and were assisted by Oehme Van Sweden and GWWO with the landscape architecture and layout.
What is a green parking lot?
The goal of the project was to create a sense of “place” at the main entrance and vastly improve safety and accessibility while using “green” techniques to reduce the impact on the environment.
The new facility provides over 180 parking spaces with design features such as a pick-up and drop-off ellipse for buses and cars, walkways designed to enhance the patrons’ experience, accessibility and safety improvements, and a tremendous landscape palette integrated with low-impact design solutions. When it rains, pollutants are washed off the surface of the parking lot. The parking lot is engineered to direct all the runoff (stormwater) to a garden-like stormwater management system, called a bioretention system.
While the bioretention basins throughout the parking lot collect and treat runoff, they are also built to be an impressive landscape feature. The new “parking gardens” include over 8,000 perennials, 350 new flowering shrubs, and 50 new specimen trees as well as hardscaping features such as decorative pavers, native boulders walls, and a wavemodel sidewalk grate.
“Do it yourself” stormwater management
You can create your own stormwater project at home or at the office by building a Rain Garden. Get started today to improve water quality in your area while beautifying your landscape with native plants. Some popular plants to consider include Blue Flag, Little Bluestem, Cardinal Flower, New England Aster, Switchgrass, Beardtongue, Culver’s Root, and other native grasses. Your local nursery can help you tailor the plant list for your landscaping goals.
Joe Longo is a Principal, Senior Engineer for Horsley Witten Group in Sandwich. He can be reached at (508) 833-6600 or
Project Partners
Civil Engineering: Horsley Witten Group
Landscape Architecture: Oehme Van Sweden
Horsley Witten Group Architects: GWWO
General Contractor: Robert B. Our Company
Landscape Contractor: Michael P. Neath Landscape
Construction Prior Designer: Sasaki
This article was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Health & Wealth.

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