Historic Garden Party
Five Beautiful Gardens to Visit This Spring
Sunday was the first day of astronomical spring, and the Sunday before that was Daylight Savings Time. The days are getting longer, the trees and flowers are in bloom, and the air is getting warmer, so now is the perfect time to plan a day trip to one of America’s beautiful historic gardens!
We at SavingPlaces.org have put together a roundup of some of the best such sites in the country to help you plan your spring break trips. Take a moment to read about these stunning places, testaments to rich history.
If you’re fond of art, then you are likely to be interested to know that Chesterwood was the home of Daniel Chester French. French is considered to be America’s greatest sculptor of public monuments, many of which he modeled in Chesterwood. Some plaster models for his famous works are on display. The estate matches French’s sophisticated tastes, with luscious English gardens and woodland walks at the Colonial Revival property, located at the foot of Monument Mountain.
Located just 30 miles outside San Francisco, Filoli (also shown at the top of the story) is a century-old Georgian Revival mansion featuring 600 acres of woods. Modeled after English Renaissance gardens, the surrounding lush greenery includes reflecting mirrors, pergolas, shady walks, and other stunning features. Filoli is considered to be one of the finest early 20th-century rural estates remaining in the United States.
The Rockefellers were among the wealthiest families in American history, and Kykuit accurately reflects their lavish tastes. Completed in 1913, the estate was built for the family’s patriarch John D. Rockefeller. The property features a charming Beaux Arts house with impressive collections of European and Chinese ceramics inside and adjacent gorgeous Italian-style gardens.
By visiting Oatlands, you will both experience beautiful gardens and a slice of American history. The estate was established some 200 years ago by George Carter as a wheat plantation and base for other business ventures. By the middle of the 19th century, however, growing wheat became unprofitable and Oatlands was purchased by the rich and influential Eustis clan, who added lovely gardens. At the site, you will see peaceful English gardens alongside the painful history of the enslaved people who planted and harvested wheat there for years.
Completed in 1937, the privately owned Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden was built in the "chisen-kaiyushiki" form, which includes walking paths and water features, such as a waterfall on a 25-foot hill, bridges, and ponds. The garden also includes a cedar log house and a tea house made of granite, wood, and bronze (all imported from Japan), which was burnt down in 1981 but has since been rebuilt. This garden is a prime example of how Japanese immigrants influenced American culture.