Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Garden at Blithewood

So, let me tell you about Hudson, New York...Mr. H. and I visited last summer to tour Olana and (he would say) so I could explore the shops in this upstate town that attracts a lot of well-known designers from the city. Following the familiar saga of many early American port towns (prosperity-decline-gentrification,) Hudson has become a chic locale with a gritty past. Today, I can best describe it like this: New Orleans on the Hudson River. It has great architecture, fabulous restaurants and shops, and it is sited in a region rich in historic homes and gardens. I spent part of my spontaneous second visit touring and part of it shopping. First the touring, next week the shopping.

A few miles south of town in Annandale-on-Hudson is Blithewood, an estate designed for a North Carolina businessman and his family in the 1830's by landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing and architect Alexander Jackson Davis. Enjoying an active partnership in the Hudson Valley during the 19th century, Downing and Davis were considered pioneers of a new American style of 'picturesque' landscape design and architecture. Davis' original Gothic-style house burned and was replaced by the property's second owner with a Beaux-Arts style manor designed by Francis Hoppin, an alumnus of the Gilded Age architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. Blithewood is now part of the Bard College campus and houses the Levy Center for Economics.


Blithewood's second owner also added a classical Italianate garden to Downing's Romantic-style landscape of pastoral grounds and sweeping vistas. The backdrop of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains is absolutely stunning.















The morning I visited the grounds were unoccupied and I spent a magical hour immersed in what felt like a secret garden. For information visit the website of Bard's Landscape and Arboretum Program. There are several gardens on the campus worth seeing.

28 comments:

  1. Absolutely stunning grounds and a lovely building. A.J. Downing and A. J.. Davis must have been quite a pair, and the new building is pretty amazing too. Can you imagine going to class here.....?! Magnifique.

    Beautiful photos too Phyllis - delightfully composed and lovely light. And a perfect name for the place...

    xo Terri

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    1. Hi Terri, I toured another property they did together, Montgomery Place, that is almost next door. It is also worth seeing - the house is beautiful and the land is stunning.
      xo,
      Phyllis.

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  2. Phyllis, this is absolutely beautiful and I place I would love to visit some day. I didn't know about it at all. The Hudson River Valley is splendid and I have some friends who live there whom we visit from time to time. I love the weather, even in winter. xx's

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  3. So funny that you would compare Hudson to New Orleans! I am from NOLA and my husband is from Manhattan. His parents' have a home upstate close to Hudson. We stayed in their upstate house after Katrina and spent every second we could in Hudson because it felt like home to me. Love hearing your review!

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  4. Phyllis,
    This site could have just as easily been in some part of Europe, so incredible. I wish gardens like that were more plentiful in the U.S. and particularly on the West Coast. Gardens rejuvenate me! Thanks for sharing.
    xo,
    Karen

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  5. You certainly picked the most beautiful day to visit! And, of course, the fall is gorgeous up there. Maybe on our trek up there next summer we will once again explore Hudson...

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  6. Phyllis, this is just gorgeous. Beautiful photos and the day couldn't have been prettier.

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  7. I have been to Hudson many times but have never stopped into Bard College (even though my son's best friends goes there). After seeing this it is on the top of my "day trip" list. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. How special is must have been to have the place to yourself. I love going to the beach on the Cape in the winter for the same sense of solitude.

    This place is gorgeous and I'll agree with Terri that your photographs are wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

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  9. I loved getting to see all of this. What a beautiful place and such beautiful photos!

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  10. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful garden and house. IT reminds me of a house Edith Wharton would have lived in. I have to put this is my book of places to visit.

    I hope that there will be a follow up post of a few of the shops that you visited.

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  11. My goodness, Phyllis! The gardens! Your photos! I recently met a young couple from NYC, and they just purchased a country house in Stoneridge, NY. If they hire me :) to decorate, I'll visit this beautiful garden. Stunning photos! ~Loi

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  12. Beautiful as all your posts are. I do have a question--I can hold my own identifying most flowers, but just saw the same pink and white flowers you show on the long stems up in Cape Cod and cannot figure out what they are--Please help!
    Cindy

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    1. Hi Cindy, Thanks so much. Those flowers are Japanese Anemone. They are late bloomers in northern climates.
      All best,
      Phyllis

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    2. OMG, I actually posted a comment that somebody got!!! Thanks so much for your answer--my mother-in-law and I were puzzled as to what they were when we saw them at the Weequossett Inn on Cape Cod just this past weekend.
      By the way, I absolutely love the simplicity as well as the learning experience your blog offers. There are so few blogs that I follow--I am so glad you are back! Have a great day! Cindy

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  13. Phyllis! These photos are beautiful and the scenery is gorgeous! You bring such life to the outdoors. Thanks for the beauty:) xo, K

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    1. Dear Kathleen, thank you for your always lovely comments. I hope you and yours are doing well! xo, Phyllis

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  14. Phyllis I have never been to Upstate New York nor have I seen this beautiful place. Thank you so much for the tour it makes want to go all the more!

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  15. Phyllis such stunning grounds, gardens, and views!
    How wonderful to have a look about. Now to get some images of the inside which may take us back to that era!

    xoxo
    Karena
    2013 Artist Series!

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  16. I have just found your lovely Blog. Such a beautiful place and fantastic garden :)
    http://kolorywogrodzie.blog.onet.pl

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  17. How beautiful, Phyllis! When my kids move to Bedford, Blithewood is on my list of must-see's.
    B

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  18. My daughter is currently studying at Bard, and I can tell you Blithewood is every bit as beautiful in person. She loves to read in the garden on a sunny day. Imagine my surprise when I saw your post in my inbox. Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning! p.s. Bard is also home to a performing arts center designed by Frank Gehry. It's an amazing gleaming sculpture rising out of the treetops.

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