Bellefield and the Walled Garden that is part of its history has only made me a bigger fan of Beatrix Farrand. Beatrix Farrand is the reason behind my amazement with the world of horticulture from the viewpoint of a Landscape Gardener. To visit a garden designed by her, maintained by a volunteer staff along with our National Park Service and still available for public viewing was absolutely amazing. To see the infamous Walled Garden at Bellefield with my very own eyes – AH-Mazing!!
The Walled Garden at Bellefield, located on the grounds of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library, in Hyde Park, New York now serves as a Regional National Park Service Headquarters. Once the home of Beatrix Farrand’s cousin’s – Thomas and Sarah Newbold – this garden consists of near perfectly restored colorful displays of horticultural splendor that precedes a backdrop of not only walls but evergreens in the forms of manicured Hemlock hedges.
The family sold the property to our National Park Service in 1976 and the gardens were in near total disrepair. Although the 18th-century mansion was restored by the architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White, it took a group of truly passionate gardeners to assist the National Park Service in bringing back the elegance once found behind these walls. With the support of the Beatrix Farrand Garden Association, The National Park Foundation, The Garden Conservancy, as well as The Garden Club of America, by 1994 the gardens were not only restored, but are maintained and considered historical in their presence. Even the metal work on the gates was reproduced by an Eagle Scout. Imagine how Beatrix would feel to be shown such love for her work.
The National Park Service, being true Stewards of this Land that they are, maintain three sites in this region. The home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Val Kill – Eleanor Roosevelt’s home/personal space and the Vanderbilt Mansion and Grounds. Maintaining this kind of intricate beauty, on different sites that have different needs, as well as styles of gardens simply has to be a challenge. However, there are opportunities to volunteer as well as support financially towards the maintenance of this trio of abundant beauty.
Beatrix Farrand always made sure that folks knew she was a Landscape Gardener. Although scoffed at by her male counterparts – including Frederick Law Olmstead – as well as having a determined spirit to find out what she did not know, Beatrix was listed as one of the founding members of The American Society of Landscape Architects…AT AGE 27. Talk about honing your craft and working your way to be respected by your male peers in the 1800’s – this was and continues to be one FIERCE LANDSCAPE GARDENER! I could go on and on about Beatrix Farrand, but I would rather spend time exploring ways to visit some of her other gardens that are still in existence like Harkness State Park (formerly known as Eolia), Garland Farm, Three Rivers farm, Princeton, Yale, Thuya Garden, Asticou Azalea Gardens….as well as Dumbarton Oaks in nearby Washington, DC. I can’t spend enough time mindlessly wandering through the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, one of the best ways to escape from it all, as it is a retreat within the City.
Thank you, Beatrix Jones- Farrand for your vision, your connectivity with the earth and your gardens that still inspire Landscape Gardeners (like myself) today.
Click here to find out more about the Gardens of Beatrix Farrand in Connecticut
Click here to find out more about the mindset and ecological practices of Beatrix Farrand
Click here to find out more about the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Museum and Presidential Library
Click here to find out more about Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kil