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The Parsons Family Biographies

Samuel Parsons (1771-1841)

Mary Bowne Parsons' husband Samuel Parsons founded the well-known Parsons Nursery in 1838. His nursery, located at the site of the present Flushing High School, was a source of many trees and shrubs for American gardens. Parsons introduced the pink-flowering dogwood, and for a time he was the only grower of hardy rhododendrons and azaleas. He traveled to Europe in search of fine specimens for his nursery, and in 1847 brought back an oddity known as the European Weeping Beech in a small flowerpot. Additionally, he introduced the Valencia orange and the first frost resistant honeybee into the U.S. Some notable specimens still survive at Bowne House, and these plants can be enjoyed by visitors today

Samuel Parsons (1771-1841)

Samuel Parsons, Jr. (1844-1923)

Samuel Parsons, Jr., son of Samuel Bowne Parsons (1819-1906)and Susan Howland Parsons, inherited his father's love of horticulture. His work as a landscape architect was seen and enjoyed in the public parks and private gardens of more than twenty states. For fifteen years, he worked in partnership with Calvert Vaux, one of the original designers along with Frederick Olmsted of New York's Central Park, and served as superintendent of the park. He was also president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and landscape architect for the American Society for the Preservation of Scenic and Historical Places and Objects.

Samuel Parsons, Jr. (1844-1923)

Notable works done by him include Washington Park (he was appointed by an Act of Congress to the post in 1900), San Diego Park, a 60 acre park on Biltmore Estate in Ashville, N.C., Haverford and Bryn Mawr colleges, and Colorado State University grounds and campus. As landscape architect for Greater New York (Commissioner of Parks), he supervised over 100 city parks of varying sizes, controlling every aspect of the parks such as siting of paths, lawns, buildings, statues, and plantings. Parsons and Co. also designed the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as well as of five churches of the Episcopal Corporation and planned the planting of trees on the Park Avenue medians above 59th St. Parsons and Co. also designed a number of important private gardens, many of which survived and can be seen today.