Take a four-day tour of breathtaking Hudson Valley gardens. Many are found on grand estates that once belonged to famous American families such as the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts. The art collections are almost as breath-taking as the flora carefully cultivated in these gardens, some reached via genteel carriage paths built in centuries past.
Your tour begins at Lyndhurst, a grand historic Gothic Revival estate, and an outstanding example of 19th-century landscape design. The Rose Garden includes 100 varieties of roses designed in a circular pattern, while the Fern Garden is bordered by a rock garden. An 1870 conservatory greenhouse remains on site with outdoor plants, one of the largest private greenhouses in the world at the time.
Kykuit, home to four generations of the Rockefeller dynasty, offers magnificent views of the Hudson River from the palatial estate. The remarkable beaux-arts landscape was created by William Welles Bosworth between 1907 and 1913. Formal gardens include the Rose Garden, Morning and Brook gardens, Italian garden, Adam and Eve Fountain area, and several terraced areas featuring sculptures by Henry Moore, Gaston Lachaise, Aristide Maillol, Alexander Calder, and others.
An idyllic afternoon can be spent at Stonecrop Garden in Cold Spring where you’ll find 63 acres of exotic and native plants grown on rock ledges. Formerly a private home, the gardens are filled with ponds and waterfalls, a wisteria pavilion and bamboo grove. Rare trees and shrubs can be found as well as English-style flower and vegetable gardens.
At Storm King Art Center, 500 acres of fields and woodlands provide a dramatic setting for over 120 works of contemporary sculpture. Visitors are free to roam through this unique, outdoor gallery overflowing with rhododendron, wildflowers and works by artists such as David Smith, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Alexander Liberman, Alice Aycock, Louise Nevelson, and Henry Moore. Nearby, the Orange County Arboretum rambles over 35 acres of professionally planned and planted hillsides. Indigenous trees, a Shakespeare Garden, water garden, raised gardens and meandering groomed paths are a feast for the eyes.
Gardening has been a cornerstone at Mohonk Mountain House since the land was purchased in 1869. Since then, Mohonk has expanded its award-winning gardens, which reflect French and Italian influences, but focus mainly on mid-19th century English landscaping. Founder Albert K. Smiley’s original designs have been maintained as the gardens have matured and evolved. They offer glimpses of the past, allowing guests to enjoy large masses of flowering summer annuals and magnificent vistas and views.
Across the river, one of the Hudson Valley’s great estates is the Vanderbilt Mansion. Terraced gardens cover 3 acres with trellises, pools, a loggia, and brick walls. Maintained in its original design, the grounds boast rare species as well as perennial favorites in abundance. The rose garden has over 1,200 plants
Montgomery Place, an historic site with 434 acres of gardens, commercial orchards, historic forest and spellbinding vistas, reflects the privileged life of Hudson Valley aristocracy from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present. Stroll through the rough garden, the rose garden, the herb garden and end by viewing the A.J. Downing landscape overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains.
The home of Hudson Valley School artist Frederic Edwin Church, Olana stands 500 feet above the Hudson, reached by carriage trails that delight guests. The gardens around the house were started in 1880 and are scattered with old roses, peonies, cosmos, bee balm, nasturtiums, dahlias and sweet alyssum. The meadows sloping gracefully down toward the river are a carpet of wildflowers that bloom from early spring through autumn.
At Mountain Top Arboretum, native trees, shrubs and wildflowers live side-by-side with plants from all corners of the world, including 8 varieties of flowering crab apples, 8 types of mountain ash, flowering shrubs and yellow and red-twigged dogwoods. The arboretum also boasts rock gardens; a pond full of aquatic plants and walking trails through nearby woods in the glorious Catskill Mountains.
Academy Park is a small horticultural jewel, designed to celebrate the tri-centennial of the city of Albany. The garden includes 225 evergreen cultivars and 90 companion plants, as well as a native wildflower garden. Among 100 New York State species featured are jack-in-the-pulpit, columbine, skullcap, asters and sunflowers, providing a feast of color to delight the eye. In nearby Troy in late March, the Capital District Flower and Garden Show bursts with spring color. With over 100 exhibits and a garden market place, green thumbs will find numerous ideas for building a garden.
This itinerary is compliments of Travel Hudson Valley.