Historic Garden Party Revisited
Five More Lovely Historic Gardens to See This Spring
Last month, we introduced you to a few of America’s most beautiful, historically significant gardens. Since then, the spring weather has become even lovelier. So we’ve decided to give you more ideas for day trips that will let you simultaneously enjoy nature’s delights and admire the mastery of some of our country’s finest architects and landscapers.
P.S. Several of these gardens were suggested to us by our followers on Facebook. Thanks for your support and for following us, and keep the good ideas coming!
Thomas Jefferson may have gone down in history as the United States’ third president, author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the most influential political thinkers of modern times, but he also devoted a lot of time to gardening. Jefferson started his two-acre vegetable garden found at his Monticello estate (a UNESCO World Heritage site) in 1770. In the middle of it you can still find the garden pavilion, adorned with Chinese railing and double-sash windows, where Jefferson, ever the voracious reader, would retreat with his books. He treated the garden not only as a place to grow food, but also as a place to experiment with all sorts of fruits and vegetables brought from Europe and Mexico. A century before Gregor Mendel, Jefferson tested techniques that would allow for the growth of the best-quality peas.
What does Seattle make you think of? Rain? Jimi Hendrix? Nirvana? The Space Needle? How about Kubota Garden? This unsung gem is the perfect marriage of Japanese culture and the Pacific Northwest. It was founded in 1927 by Japanese-born landscaper Fujitaro Kubota. Having been placed in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, Kubota had hoped that his creation would increase American appreciation of his native culture. Kubota Garden was designed using Japanese landscaping techniques and garden elements popular in the Land of the Rising Sun, such as streams, waterfalls, rock-outcroppings, reflection pools, carved stones, and bridges. Remarkably, Kubota built his lush gem in logged-off swampland. The twist is that it is filled with plants native to Washington state rather than Japanese ones. Kubota Garden is a public park, so you don’t have to pay to access this Zen oasis of calm.
If you are fond of both visual art and landscaping, then there is no better place for you to visit than Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Art Museum. This Georgian mansion and surrounding garden were completed in 1960 for the Cheek family, magnates of the grocery industry. The mansion includes a museum with many works of modern art on display, including pieces by Andy Warhol. Meanwhile, the gardens feature a sculpture trail with installations by Steve Tobin and others as well as two sculptures by Dale Chihuly, the master of blown glass. The gardens include many different types of plants from Tennessee and around the world.
Considered to be the best-preserved of Long Island’s gold coast estates, Old Westbury Gardens (top photo) were initially built for John Schaffer Phipps, a wealthy steel heir, to impress his fiancée. They include about 200 acres of beautiful English-style gardens, woodlands, ponds, and lakes. Not all of Old Westbury Gardens’ beauty was created by the human hand, however: the gardens feature abandoned paddocks fields that have since become home to many types of birds and wildflowers. If that weren’t romantic enough, you can find the neoclassical Temple of Love in the middle of the property. Oh, and if you’re into 1970s chick flicks, Old Westbury Gardens was featured in Love Story (err… I swear I didn’t see it; my mother told me), as well as in Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and numerous others.
If you live in Washington, D.C., and are looking for a garden retreat from the constant politics and big city hustle, consider visiting Arcadia at the Woodlawn Plantation, a Historic Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Established in 2010, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture’s purposes are to encourage sustainable and organic agriculture, support local farmers, and promote the production of healthy food. The Woodlawn Plantation was once part of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate, which is just a stroll away. The Pope-Leighey House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, can also be found at the Woodlawn Plantation.