Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Greenwood Gardens in NJ has been on my list of places to visit for years. It is so unbelievably close to home but, up until recently has not been open to the public. Though I had seen photos and heard the background story at Garden Club last year what awaited me there was so beyond my expectations. On arrival there is a beautiful wrought iron gate and stately red brick Georgian home flanked by lion statues. What lies beyond is a 28 acre magical garden and property that left me feeling dizzy as if I had fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. Terraced gardens, meadows, woodlands, grottos and teahouses dotted along the landscape… everywhere you turn there is another surprise waiting.
A Gilded Past
Two very different American families have left their marks on Greenwood Gardens. In the early decades of the last century, the self-made multi-millionaire Joseph P. Day established the gardens as a private pleasure ground for his large family. The garden beds were full of lush annuals and perennials, and the landscape was punctuated by stone teahouses, pergolas, reflecting pools, grottoes, and terraces. Rookwood and Fulper tiles from the Arts & Crafts era provide colorful ornamentation throughout the gardens. After the Days sold the property, and following some years of decline, in the 1950s Peter P. Blanchard, Jr., a lawyer and gentleman farmer, and his wife Adelaide Childs Frick, a pediatrician, added to the Days’ landscape an overlay of evergreen formality and whimsical sculptural ornamentation.
In 2000, following his father’s wishes, Peter P. Blanchard III, Blanchard’s son, and his wife Sofia Blanchard began the process of establishing Greenwood Gardens as a nonprofit conservation organization, reaching out for guidance to the Garden Conservancy, a national organization based in Cold Spring, New York. Greenwood Gardens is now one of 16 exceptional gardens in the country endorsed by the Garden Conservancy.
Summerhouse and Teahouse
Footpaths and gardens to the south and east of these main terraces lead to a pair of round perches inspired by the Belvederes built during the Arts and Craft period in Britain. The Summerhouse and Teahouse are constructed of local sandstone with copper coursings around cone-shaped roofs. Their interiors feature walls and ceilings studded with blue, green and brown seashell-shaped Rookwood tiles and floors paved with pastel-hued Fulper tiles manufactured nearby in New Jersey.
Three-foot-tall limestone chess pieces—knight, pawn, queen, and king—line the horseshoe steps leading to the upper level of the Teahouse and the South Axis garden. Here dwarf iris (Iris lacustris), pink dianthus (Dianthus caryophyllus), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and small ornamental onion (Allium aflatunense) may be found nestled near four huge stone frogs. Granite Foo dogs are placed at opposite steps to the Teahouse, while an Oriental paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) with little yellow flowers serves as a centerpiece connecting the walkway and the two stone follies.
I took a lot of photos as you can see and I plan to come back to do more. I also plan to go this month for a yoga class or two and in October to take photos of Greenwood in Autumn. How gorgeous that will be. We found tucked away a barn and pasture with goats and farm birds that delighted the children especially my daughter the biggest animal lover of us all.