Category Archives: NY and CT Public Garden Tours

Four Historic Hudson River Gardens, a Virtual Visit

Garden Club of Irvington members and guests recently enjoyed a slide lecture by garden historian Judith Chatfield, author of notable books about Italian gardens, who spoke about four dramatic New York properties and their gardens. If you are planning to tour the Hudson River Valley this spring or summer, here is a suggested itinerary based on points made in Judith’s talk.

Judith Chatfield, center in red sweater, with Deborah Flock and Joanna Gurley of the Garden Club of Irvington.

Judith Chatfield, center in red sweater, with Deborah Flock and Joanna Gurley of the Garden Club of Irvington.

We begin by making our way 80 miles up the Taconic Parkway to Red Hook to Annandale-on-Hudson to visit Montgomery Place, an historic estate designed for Janet Livingston Montgomery, a Revolutionary War widow. The Federal-style mansion is the last remaining of its kind in the Hudson Valley designed by architect Alexander Jackson Davis. The property — designed by Andrew Jackson Downing to be at its peak in October — includes an arboretum, woods, and orchards. It was acquired and renovated by Historic Hudson Valley in 1985 and sold to Bard College in 2015.

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Aerial shot of Montgomery Place in fall

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Naturalistic landscape at Montgomery Place

In Hyde Park, 30 miles south of Bard via Route 9, Bellefield is an 100-year-old Beatrix Farrand garden at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Museum and Library. A prominent landscape architect in the first half of the 20th century, Farrand designed gardens for notable families and institutions, including the Rockefellers and Princeton and Yale Universities. In 1912, her cousin, Senator Thomas Newbold and his wife, Sarah, commissioned her to create the gardens at Bellefield, their 18th-century estate. Lining the grass lawn are beds of perennials selected for their soft color harmony, bloom sequence, and texture — a technique Farrand helped spearhead. This style became the standard for American garden design, replacing the practice of placing annuals in beds cut into the lawn.

Bellefield facade and perennial borders

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Formal gardens at Bellefield surrounded by clipped box hedges

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One of Bellefield’s garden rooms in spring

Leaving Bellefield, we make our way south to Cold Spring, across the Hudson from West Point, where we visit Stonecrop Gardens, originally the private garden of Frank and Anne Cabot, founders of The Garden Conservancy, the organization that hosts the Open Days tours every year. The Cabots were avid collectors of alpine plants, and finding choice selections hard to come by, started their own mail-order nursery. In the mid-1980s they engaged English horticulturist Caroline Burgess to make Stonecrop into a public garden. It now encompasses 15 varied acres of raised alpine stone beds, cliff rock gardens, woodland and water gardens, and enclosed English-style flower gardens that feature more than 50 plant families. A spectacular 2,000-square-foot conservatory housing tender specimens floats on a pond near the entry.

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Alpine plants drape over stone walls at Stonecrop

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The ‘floating’ conservatory at Stonecrop, where seedlings are started and tender plants overwinter

Even closer to home in Garrison — less than 60 miles north of New York City — is Boscobel, a Federal-period mansion. The house was built in Montrose c. 1805 for States Morris Dyckman, who served the British army during the Revolutionary War. He died with only the foundation in place, and the project was completed by his wife, Elizabeth Corne Dyckman. Through the efforts of Westchester County citizens, the house was rescued from demolition in the 1940s, dismantled, and stored in barns until Boscobel Restoration Inc. had it rebuilt on the Garrison site. In 1959, Boscobel’s chief benefactor, Lila Acheson Wallace, hired the landscape architecture firm of Innocenti and Webel to transform the grounds into an appropriate historic setting. They implemented a Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical landscape that included allées of maples, mature shrubs and an entire apple orchard, installed to give the feeling that everything had always been there. In the 1990s, the grounds were expanded to include 29 acres of woodlands with a 1.25 mile scenic trail. Today, you can tour the house, now a museum featuring furniture and decorative arts of the Federal period, walk the trail, and explore 60 acres of grounds that feature rose and perennial gardens and magnificent views of the Hudson.

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Approaching Boscobel in fall under an allée of mature trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under Conservation, Garden History and Design, Historic Preservation, Horticulture, NY and CT Public Garden Tours

A Park for the People of NY: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Members of the Garden Club of Irvington began the fall 2015 season with an expert guided tour of Brooklyn Bridge Park by horticultural supervisor Rashid Poulson.

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Rashid Group

Rashid

We enjoyed the magnificent views of the East River and Manhattan while learning about the park design, plantings, and challenges the staff faces, such as keeping weeds in check during the hot, dry summer.

Rashid, above left, who’s worked at the 85-acre park since 2009, is a graduate of the Million Trees NYC Training Program, a Bloomberg-administration program designed to provide opportunities to inner-city youth. Born and raised in Flatbush, Rashid is one of two supervisors of the horticultural staff. The park itself — in addition to providing a 1.3 mile greenbelt along the East River — has changed New York into a more accessible place for all its citizens, including the kids who play in the fountain sculpture (a temporary exhibit, below, that was being dismantled during our visit) and the teens who play on the the basketball and handball courts and skate and play hockey in the ice rink.

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Skating

This is a park that even has a book cart and comfortable place to sit and read.

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Garden Club members were most interested in learning about the Park’s seven interconnected ecosystems that provide habitats for wildlife. With the magnificent skyline as a background, we toured paths and viewed woodlands, meadows, marshes and berms, all of which are planted with natives and grown with recycled rainwater and without chemical pesticides.Among the fall plants we enjoyed — several members gathered seeds and small branches for propagating are — were Winged Sumac (Rhus copallina), Mist Flower (Eupatorium coelestinum), Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius), and Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum).
Come to our Garden Fair and Plant Sale on the first Sunday in May and you will surely find offspring of the plants pictured below.
Staghorn Sumac
Mist Flower
Blue Wood Aster
Daisies
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… all of which were viewed with the East River and Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.

Filed under Conservation, NY and CT Public Garden Tours