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A Guide to the Gardens of the Hudson Valley


From hillsides of daffodils at Lyndhurst to masses of tulips at Empire State Park in Albany, public gardens reflecting 200 years of landscaping styles have the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area awash in color and bloom from spring until fall frost. Presidents, industrialists, naturalists, artists and landscape architects have long called the Hudson Valley home and many have enhanced the region’s rich natural and scenic wonders. Today, visitors can enjoy some of the country’s most stunning landscapes and gardens in this majestic river valley.

Following in the footsteps of the Hudson River School of Painting, many of the early giants of American landscape design were drawn to this extraordinary region where man could encounter nature in all its wild beauty. Andrew Jackson Downing, a Newburgh native, was one of the great arbiters of taste in 19th century America who in 1841 published “A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening.”

Downing also created a magazine called “The Horticulturist,” in which in 1847 he described the effect of a waterfall in the woods at Montgomery Place in Annandale-on-Hudson that can still be experienced today. “The memory of the world’s toil gradually becomes fainter and fainter, under the spell of the soothing monotone; until at last one begins to doubt the existence of towns and cities, full of busy fellow beings, and to fancy the true happiness of life lies in a more simple existence, where man, the dreamy silence of thick forests, the lulling ones of babbling brooks, and the whole heart of nature, make one sensation, full of quiet harmony and joy.”

Downing teamed up for a time on projects with architect Calvert Vaux, who likened landscape architecture to painting in which the artist “endeavored to divine the secret of a particular bit of nature’s design and use the idea in his own composition so that one would feel the scene to be thoroughly natural, familiar even, and yet transfigured and elevated by higher emotion.”

Vaux later collaborated with Frederick Law Omstead on the design of both Central Park in New York City and Downing Park in Newburgh. American Romanticsm took delight in natural forms, as expressed in the work of these creative masters, and also gave us landscapes such as Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown, where asymmetry surprises the eye and refreshes the spirit.

Spanning many generations, the lure and appeal of gardens and landscapes in New York’s Hudson Valley cross all borders and time. Enjoyed in their historical context, they create one of the most fascinating and beautiful series of gardens in the world. From river and mountain vistas, to antique roses, fragrant lilacs and rushing streams, the Hudson River Valley is an experience in horticultural history and landscape design that knows no equal.

Upper Hudson Valley
Washington Park
State & Willet Sts, Albany
Designed in the late 1860s by Frederick Law Olmstead, Calvert Vaux and their protégés, Washington Park is an urban gem with a 6-acre lake surrounded by a croquet lawn, tropical and aquatic gardens and formal beds in nineteenth century gardenesque style. When the 50,000 tulips fade they are replaced by 50 kinds of annuals providing an old-fashioned blaze of color from spring through fall. Open daily sunrise to sunset. Admission free.
Academy Park
Eagle St, Albany
Academy Park in front of Albany City Hall was designed to celebrate the tri-centennial of the city. This small horticultural jewel includes 225 evergreen cultivars and 90 companion plants, as well as a native wildflower garden. Among one hundred New York State species are jack-in-the-pulpit, columbine, skull cap, asters and sunflowers, providing a feast of color to delight the eye. Open daily. Free.
Ten Broeck Mansion
9 Ten Broeck Pl, Albany
Restored landscape, cutting and kitchen gardens.
Ten Broeck Mansion Photo Gallery
Mountain Top Arboretum
Route 23C, Tannersville
Mountain Top Arboretum in the town of Tannersville offers visitors the pleasure of a labor of love. Peter and Bonnie Ahrens have brought plants from all corners of the world, including eight varieties of flowering crab apples, eight 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. Open daily, mid-April-October. Admission free.
Mountain Top Arboretum Photo Gallery
Olana State Historic Site
5720 Route 9G, Greenport
Just south of the town of Hudson, artist Frederic Edwin Church’s home, Olana, stands 500 feet above the Hudson. Believing that Olana was his greatest masterpiece, Church created carriage trails and surprise vistas to delight his guests. The gardens around the house were started in 1880 by his wife 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. Grounds open daily 8-sunset. Grounds admission, free.
Olana Photo Gallery
Olana Panorama
Middle Hudson Valley
Adjacent to FDR Home & Library, Route 9, Hyde Park
A special treat is the Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield, designed in 1912 in the Beaux Arts style and just recently restored and opened to the public. Open daily, year round, 9am-dusk. Admission free.
Clermont State Historic Site
1 Clermont Ave, Germantown 518.537.4240
Above the "Long Walk "which looks over a spectacular southern view of the Hudson is Lilac Walk, where a collection of old species puts on a fragrant show each May and grassy slopes are blanketed with day lilies later in the summer. The gardens, developed in the 1930s, include a walled perennial garden in the English tradition, a wooded "wilderness" garden with wild flowers and bulbs and an upper cutting garden of peonies, roses, irises, and zinnias. Grounds open year-round, 8:30 am to sunset; house open April 1-October 31, Tuesday-Sunday, 11 -5 pm. Weekends through mid-December. Admission.
Clermont Photo Gallery
Innisfree Gardens
362 Tyrrel Rd, Millbrook
Innisfree, named for Yeats’ Irish “isle of peace,” is a 200-acre landscape that encourages visitors to meander around a small lake, in and out of charming garden experiences. Open May 1-October 20, Wednesday-Friday, 10-4, Saturday-Sunday, 11-5. Admission.
Innisfree Garden Photo Gallery
Institute for Ecosystem Studies
Route 44A, Millbrook
The Institute for Ecosystem Studies & Mary Cary Arboretum offers a profusion of flowering plants of every color and description: perennials, lilacs, roses, peonies, rhododendrons, day lilies and herbs, just to name a few. Open Monday through Saturday, 9-4; Sunday 1-4; grounds close 6pm April - September. Closed on major holidays. Admission, free.
IES Photo Gallery
Locust Grove
2683 South Rd, Poughkeepsie
Grounds reflect the Romantic period and include the "geometric garden," a parterre of colorful annuals on the south side of the mansion which was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis. The main garden displays beds of peonies, roses, irises and other perennials. Grounds open daily year-round, 8am-dusk. Grounds dmission free.
Locust Grove Photo Gallery
Mohonk Mountain House
1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz
2,200 acres plus surrounding 5,000 acres of the Mohonk Preserve offering 85 miles of hiking trails. The gardens, begun in 1883, include the Show Garden, ablaze with color from late May through fall. 75 beds feature annuals, biennials reflecting the Victorian era. There is also a rose garden, cutting garden and herb garden as well as a fern/wildflower trail along a small brook through the woods. Open daily, 7:30 am-dusk, year round. Call ahead for trail conditions during winter months. Admission.
Montgomery Place
River Road, Annandale-on-Hudson
Montgomery Place, in Annandale-on-Hudson, was described in 1866 by writer Benson Lossing as “the most perfect in its beauty and arrangements … one of the most beautiful of the ornamental gardens in this country.” The preeminent landscape designer of the time, Andrew Jackson Downing, declared the estate was “nowhere surpassed in America in point of location, natural beauty or landscape gardening charms.” Early 20th-century gardens include an oval reflecting pool, rose and herb gardens, and brick pathways leading visitors from one glorious horticultural feast to another. Open daily except Tuesday, April-October, 10-5; weekends in November 10-4:30 pm; first 2 weekends in December, 12-5pm. Admission.
Montgomery Place Photo Gallery
Great Lawn Landscape Panorama
River View Panorama
Poet's Walk Park
River Rd, Red Hook
Remaining Romantic Landscape comprising 120 acres of rolling lawns and forest groves. Offers breathtaking views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. The park is buffered on all sides by 780 acres of private lands under conservation easements to insure the landscape from development. Two miles of trails. Open daily 9am-8:30pm Spring & Summer, 9am-dusk Fall & Winter. Admission free.
Poet's Walk Park Photo Gallery
Poet's Walk Park Panorama
Trail Map
Springwood - FDR Home & Library NHS
4097 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park

The garden enthusiast can enjoy spectacular roses at Springwood, the family home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The gardens have been maintained in their original designs, boasting rare species as well as perennial favorites in abundance. The original hemlock hedge encloses the Roosevelt rose garden, now over a century old with 28 varieties of roses bordered by tulips, peonies and annuals. Open 6 am-dusk, year-round. Grounds admission free.

Springwood Photo Gallery
Staatsburg State Historic Site
Old Post Rd, Staatsburg
An elegant example of the great estates and landscapes built by America's financial and insustrial leaders during the Gilded Age. Open daily mid April through Labor Day on Wednesday to Saturday 10am until 5pm. Grounds admission free.
Staatsburg Photo Gallery
330 Morton Rd, Rhinebeck
One of the few remaining Calvert Vaux landscapes, it is being restored to its original splendor armed with the original plans and planting lists. Features spectacular views across the lawns to the Hudson River. Open daily dawn to dusk. Grounds admission free.
Wilderstein Photo Gallery
Wilderstein Landscape Panorama
Vanderbilt Mansion NHS
Route 9, Hyde Park
The garden enthusiast can enjoy spectacular roses at the 600-acre estate of Frederick William Vanderbilt. The gardens have been maintained in their original designs, boasting rare species as well as perennial favorites in abundance. Grounds open daily, year-round, 9am-dusk. Grounds admission, free.
Vanderbilt Mansion Photo Gallery
Rose Garden Panorama
Riverfront Panorama
Vassar Arboretum
Vassar College, Raymond Boulevard, Poughkeepsie
The campus contains a diverse collection of specimen trees, plus a boardwalk through a native plant preserve. The Shakespeare Garden, planted in 1916 by students of Shakespeare and botany and later remodeled along the lines of a traditional English flower garden, features old roses, clematis, peonies, herbs, heathers, and other perennials. Open year-round. Admission, free.
Pubsley Hill Road, Amenia
Modeled after villa gardens of the Italian Renaissance with trimmed specimens and hedges in different shades of green accented by sculptures, pavilions, fountains and framed views of rolling farmlands and woods. Includes a water garden and long grassy allee of arborvitaes clipped into solid walls of greenery 23 feet high, and four small knot gardens. Open June - September, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, noon -5. Admission, free.
Lower Hudson Valley
Boscobel Restoration
1601 Route 9D, Garrison
At Boscobel Restoration in Garrison, weeping cherry trees and tulips bloom in May, followed in June by the flowering of 300 rose bushes, including many old varieties. As if all that were not enough, an opening at the far end of the rose garden frames a splendid view of the Hudson toward West Point. Open daily except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, closed January-March. Hours: 9:30-5, April-October; 9:30-4 November-December. Admission.
Boscobel Photo Gallery
Rose Garden Panorama
Great Lawn Panorama
Stonecrop Gardens
81 Stonecrop Lane, Cold Spring
Created by Frank and Ann Cabot, Stonecrop is one of the most interesting public gardens in the northeast, standing 1,100 feet above the river in the Hudson Highlands. Includes over 500 species of Alpines; a 2,000 square foot conservatory; an English-style flower garden with a central vegetable parterre and a collection of perennials as diverse as the New York Botanical Garden -- all in 63 acres. Open April - December, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and the first and third Saturday of the month. Admission.
Route 9D, Garrison
"Place of the great spirit," was designed by industrial designer Russel Wright as a 75 acre summer retreat. Walking trails, ecological landscape, native plants, quarry pond, framed views. Open April-October. Monday-Friday, 9-4: Saturday-Sunday 10-6. Suggested admission.
Manitoga Photo Gallery
Manitoga Pond Panorama
Dragon Rock Panorama
Storm King Art Center
Old Pleasant Hill Rd, Mountainville
At Storm King Art Center in Mountainville more than four hundred 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, Henry Moore, Kenneth Snelson and Isamu Noguchi. Open daily, 11-5:30, beggining of April - end of October; 11-5 end of October - mid November; open until 8 p.m.; Saturdays in June-August. Closed mid November - end of March. Admission.
Storm King Art Center Photo Gallery
149 Girdle Ridge Road, Katonah
A "Sense Circle" includes species that appeal to all of the senses. The Cedar Walk leads through a shady grove of ferns and rhododendrons to a walled sunken garden filled with roses, perennials and annuals. Grounds are open Wednesday through Sunday, 10-5, May through November. Admission.
Caramoor Photo Gallery
Sunken Garden Panorama
Venetian Theatre Panorama
Donald M Kendall Sculpture Garden
Pepsico Headquarters
Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase
Horticulture and sculpture create a unique series of visual experiences on 112 acres of walking paths, lakes and fountains. Open year round sunrise to sunset. Free admission, self tours.
Donald M Kendall Sculpture Garden Photo Gallery
Hammond Japanese Stroll Garden
28 Deveau Rd, North Salem
Enjoy a stroll through a three-acre Japanese garden, lunch at an outdoor café and special events throughout the season. Open May-November, Wednesday-Saturday, 12-4. Admission.
Sleepy Hollow
Spectacular views of the Hudson are framed by Nelson Rockefeller's sculpture garden featuring Brancusi, Moguchi, Giacometti, Calder, Moore, Maillol and many others. Formal gardens, fountains, pools and a rose garden. Tours daily, April 28-November 4, 10-3. Closed Tuesdays. Tours leave from Philipsburg Manor, Route 9, Tarrytown. Admission. This tour not recommended for children under 10. Tickets on sale 9 a.m., day of tour. Reservations required for groups of 10 or more.
Lasdon Park Arboretum
Route 35, Somers
180 acre park with woodlands, trails, arboretum and the Trail of the Vietnam and Korean Memorial. Open daily 8am to 4pm. Admission free.
Lasdon Park Arboretum Photo Gallery
Lenoir Preserve
19 Dudley St, Yonkers
430 acre wildlife sanctuary overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades. Specimen trees including copper beeches, ginkos and Douglas firs. Well designed butterfly garden. A turn of the century carriage house is home to the Lenoir Nature Center. Open daily dawn to dusk, Admission free.
Lenoir Preserve Photo Gallery
635 South Broadway, Tarrytown
67-acre landscape includes magnificent specimen trees, sweeping lawns, river vistas and an original rose garden that flourishes with more than a hundred varieties of roses. Open daily 10-5, April 15-October 31; November - April 14 weekends only. Open weekdays only, Christmas-New Year's. Closed Mondays, except holidays. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission.
Lyndhurst Photo Gallery
Philipsburg Manor
Route 9, Sleepy Hollow
The kitchen garden at Philipsburg Manor is planted with 80 species of herbs and vegetables popular in the 1700s. The nearby orchard contains varieties of apple, pear and cherry trees. Open Daily 10-5, March-December; closed Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Closed January-February. Admission.
Philipsburg Manor Photo Gallery
Causeway Panorama
West Sunnyside Lane, Tarrytown
In April, the hillsides at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown are awash with daffodils, under apple trees that are heavy with bloom. The famous author once quipped that his nieces feared for their well being as the wisteria vines, which drip purple blossoms all over the front of the house in June, threatened to take over the entire estate. Open daily April - October, 10-5; November & December 10-4; open weekends only in March, 10-4; closed Tuesdays, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, January and February. Admission.
Sunnyside Photo Gallery
Landscape Panorama
Untermeyer Park
North Broadway, Yonkers
113 acre public park, once the private gardens of the Graystone Estate, owned by Samuel Untermeyer. The gardens were designed by William Welles Bosworth, designer of gardens for Kykuit. The gardens feature Grecian gardens, once a site of performancs by Isadora Duncan. Open daily dawn to dusk, Admission free.
Untermeyer Park Photo Gallery
Van Cortlandt Manor
South Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson
The Long Walk at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson provides a floral treat, mixed with the history of one of New York’s oldest families. Spring visitors stroll between blossoming lilacs and apple trees that compete for attention with extensive beds of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Open daily April-December, 10-5. Closed Tuesdays, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission.
Van Cortlandt Manor Photo Gallery
Landscape Panorama
Porch Panorama
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