Sunday, July 05, 2009

Edith Wharton walked these grounds

As I've previously written, I spent the holiday weekend in Lenox, MA. The highlight of the trip was clearly the day spent at The Mount, Edith Wharton's summer home. It's hard to know where to focus and I took nearly 90 photos! As a matter of fact, I kept filling up my storage card (huge photos!) and had to keep deleting as I went. I think what I ended up with were the best images of this glorious property. The current owners, The Edith Wharton Restoration, purchased the estate in 1980, but it wasn't until 1997 that they were able to start the extensive work necessary to return the buildings and grounds back to their original glory. The work is ongoing.

I am starting with the grounds, and will then move onto the exterior of the building, followed by the remarkable interiors. The grounds of the estate have been restored to their former glory - including the drive in (which was originally designed by her niece, noted landscape architect Beatrix Farrand), walking trails and natural wooded areas, and most notably, the formal gardens and terraces behind the home. These formal gardens were designed by Edith Wharton herself. She based her designs on the European influences of her youth, most notably the Italian style, which suggested that the gardens should be laid out as rooms and in concert with the home and the natural landscape.

Here is the view from the veranda in the rear of the house. The steps down from the terrace transition to a series of terraced lawns leading down the hill towards the wooded areas and looking out towards the mountains.


Looking left down the limestone "hallway", one takes in the French inspired flower garden.
A series of planting beds surrounds a small pool with Edith Wharton's dolphin fountain.



And looking back towards the house.While this garden was quite lovely, I was completely entranced by the Italiante garden to the left of the house. The image below is looking towards this classic walled "private" garden from the back steps.

And a zoom-in photo (love the telephoto setting!!):Looking towards the secret garden - which is on a lower elevation in order to emphasize the private nature of the space.

The ivy covered stone walls included a series of niches with darling little wooden benches. The color palette is entirely white (astilbe) and green. So simple, lush and classic! Edith installed this garden with the proceeds from her novel "The House of Mirth". Much of this garden had to be restored or replaced in the renovation - worth every penny! I didn't want to leave.


The rock-pile fountain (this is a reconstructed version of the original) is as charming as the formal dolphin fountain in the French garden.
If you're a lover of symmetry (as I am), this is just so satisfying.



The stone arches and pergola on the far side of the garden offer a lovely respite from the sun's heat.On the outside looking in (note the view of the house through the arch).
A view from above.
And back towards the house.
The garden restoration projects began in the early 2000's. The landscape architect is Childs Associates in Boston; garden restoration by Webster-Ingersoll in Sheffield, MA.

A year ago, The Mount was facing foreclosure, which I wrote about here, exactly one year ago. While things are looking up - they are still in need of financial help in order keep going with the large scale restorations and maintenance required to keep up the property. Please consider making a donation.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on the building and interiors!


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15 comments:

Chic Coles (Cole Design) said...

Thank you so much for this post! I have been wanting to go for years and you have inspired me even more to make the effort to go. My daughters would love it too. The Astible flowers around the courtyard really stand out and look beautiful. I am going to plant them in my own garden. Looking forward to seeing the other pictures of the building exterior and interior.

Renee Finberg said...

what a fabulous estate, i can only imagine her walks.
xx

Maya said...

The gardens are magnificent! And it seems you had them all to yourself -I spotted only one single person somewhere there in the distance.

Mara (The Wedding Cabaret) said...

gorgeous!

Things That Inspire said...

Beautiful!!! I get the impression that the focus of the landscaping was on the front - did the house back onto woods? I was just reading about house placement (on a lot) from a gardeners perspective, and it is just about the opposite of what architects recommend - because the gardeners want the glory of the lot to be in the front, where the landscaping can be enjoyed by all.

Cote de Texas said...

I feel like I've been there now. I don't have to go! that one shot looking over the mts or hlls - that' fabulous. your pictures look wonderful.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Linda, first of all, I love Edith Wharton's writing, and I also love your photos of her home! Oh, it is GORGEOUS. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I feel as if I have been out on a lovely walk with you. This is truly an amazing estate.

Happy Outdoor Wednesday...

XO,

Sheila :-)

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

When we have the opportunity to walk grounds that have a history attached -- it can bring all our creative senses alive!

What a great bunch of shots!

TTFN~~Claudia ♥

Beautiful Pear Tree Lane said...

Hi Linda,
I can't even imagine waking up to such beauty every day. I know you really enjoyed this trip, and probably wanted to just linger there, thank you for sharing.
Sue

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Incredibly beautiful!!

Terry said...

Linda,
What a beautiful house and the gardens are spectacular. Thank you for giving us a tour.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Beautiful gardens - thanks for sharing.
Glenda

Smilingsal said...

Ah, the only difference between this garden and mine is money! Happy OW.

Mary said...

I loved walking with you through the gardens. Your photos are just beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with us.

mbkatc230 said...

Oh my goodness, this is absolutely breathtaking. Thank you for sharing this, it truly is stunning. What a wonderful place to relax and contemplate the glory of nature. Your photos are beautiful. Kathy

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