Going to Innisfree
The Hudson River Valley gardens saga continues . . . (if you’re bored, please let me know. On second thought, better not. I still have one post to go.)
As a child of the 60’s, one of my favorite songs was “Innisfree,” as sung by Judy Collins. It still is. So when I became a gardener, and learned that there was a famous garden in Millbrook, New York, by that name I had to add it to my Hudson River Vally garden itinerary.
From 1930 to 1960, Innisfree was the private garden of Walter and Marion Beck. With the help of landscape architect Lester Collins, the Becks used Chinese garden design techniques to guide the development of the garden. Drawing on the history of Chinese paintings and gardens dating back a thousand years, Walter Beck devised the term “cup garden” to describe the concept behind Innisfree: that of a garden area or vignette that draws attention to something rare or beautiful by setting it within an enclosed or discrete space, to enable to viewer to enjoy it without distraction. A cup garden can be a meadow framed by trees, a lotus pool, or a single rock covered with lichens and sedums. Thus, there has been no attempt to relate any of the planting design, for example, to the stone remnants of the foundation of the original house which are still on site.
At Innisfree, I strolled through a series of carefully framed views, seeing terrace gardens, a meadow stream, carefully placed massive stones (most of which came from the forested areas on the site), and a series of waterfalls, mist fountains, water sculptures, and pools. The garden is 150 acres in all, including a 40-acre glacial lake. Most of the plantings, however, are native.
Innisfree, located in Millbrook, NY, is open from May 7 to October 20 Wednesdays through Sundays and on legal holidays. For more information, visit its website.
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