Thursday, August 22, 2013
GREENWOOD GARDENS, An Oasis of Splendid Tranquility (c) By Polly Guerin
THE GRAND ALLEES Approaching the gardens giant sycamore and spruces that stand like sentinels of protection for what lies ahead; breathtaking vistas. The lush garden floor is a mélange of pure mossy tints to vibrant greens that transport you into an oasis of calm and serenity. All concerns of the modern world seem to melt away as you meander along the moss-covered paths and suddenly come upon Italianate garden terraces, grottoes, ornamental tree, shrubs, wildflower meadows and reflecting pools. Enter one of the tea houses there you find three-foot-tall limestone chess pieces---knight, pawn, queen, and king—that line the horseshoe steps leading to the upper level tea house, and take a time travel journey into the South Axis Garden. Greenwood Gardens offers ample reason to daydream and there are inspiring vistas for plein air painters as well.
PLEASANT DAYS Two different families have left their mark on Greenwood Gardens. In the early decades of the last century, the Joseph P. Day family cultivated lush annuals and perennials and the tea houses and pergolas designed by William Whetten Renwick, were constructed by hand of rough local stone and colorful Arts & Crafts tiles. Matthew Gundy, Director of Administration adds, “Day lived next door to Renwick, who was the nephew of James Renwick, Jr., the architect of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Day admired the formal gardens as his neighbor’s property and commissioned Renwick to create a similar stately garden for his estate, called at that time “Pleasant Days.”
PETER P. BLANCHARD Day died in 1944 and years of decline on the verdant estate, in the 1950s Peter P. Blanchard Jr. and his wife Adelaide Childs Frick added an overlay of evergreen formality and new ornamentation to the Day landscape renaming the property “The Greenwoods.” At one end of a verdant vista is the majestic wrought iron gate designed by Carrerre and Hastings for the Frick residence in New York. Blanchard’s son Peter P. Blanchard III was a master visionary who saw the potential of Greenwood and took the giant step to restore the gardens. In consortium with his wife Sofia, they honored Peter Blanchard’s Jr.’s wish for the long-term preservation of the property. Greenwood Gardens is a nonprofit organization, and is now one of 16 exceptional gardens in the country endorsed by the Greenwood Conservancy.
RESTORATION Restoring the historic landscape and color palette of the 12 distinct areas of the garden began in 2009, including an agrarian area, home to goats, chickens and ducks, that is the delight to both children and parents alike. Louis Bauer, Director of Horticulture adds, “We use plants as we see them in the historic photos, but these older gardens are more fragile so we have incorporated modern floral versions which are less demanding on the garden staff. “The result is a 21st century-garden thriving in the framework of a very old one, but retaining the flavor of the original.” There you may find old favorites; Snow fairy bluebeard, Peach Drift rose, Black out heuchera, and Silver Carpet lamb’s ears. Garden maintenance is also supported by local volunteers who participate in restoring the sweep of verdant land that only nature could produce.
There is much to see and time to take a tranquil respite at Greenwood Gardens, 274 Old short Hills Road, Short Hills, NJ 07078. www.greenwoodgardens.org . Open Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. To visit the garden call 973.258.4026 to make a reservation . By train take New Jersey Transit to the Millburn station which is closer to the gardens and where a short taxi ride takes you to the gardens, which also offers a full schedule of programs and workshops.
- Polly Guerin
- Polly Guerin is an author/poet with four textbooks and 2 video productions as credentials as well as 4 books ready to be published. All my blogs are intended to become the basis for books to be published. PollyTalk From New York (c) is a current events blog about happenings in New York City. I have been PollyTalk columnist on the Internet, Big Apple News Network. AmazingArtDecoDivas blog features amazing women of notable character. I am on the board of the Art Deco Society of New York. The Fashion Historian blog gives pertinent insight into Polly's consummate knowledge about fashion history. Former professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Awaken Your Sleeping Beauty blog gives you pertinent information about holistic remedies for health, beauty, mind, body and spirit. I am on the board of the Edgar Cayce New York Center. I sing with the St. George's Choral Society and also serve on their Board. My little dog Colby is a rescue dog and I support animal charities. I hope you enjoy my blogs, please keep in touch.