Wednesday, May 14, 2008
A Secret Garden
It looks like the gate to a secret garden, doesn't it? It actually leads to the Cross Estate Gardens, a beautiful historical site hidden in the rolling hills of New Jersey's horse country. The gardens date back to the early years of the twentieth century, when the surrounding area was a summer retreat for wealthy New Yorkers.
One of the main features is a wonderful wisteria-covered pergola, which spans the length of the garden. At this time of year, it is alive with the buzz of bees who feast on the long purple racemes.
Tucked amid the tall trees is a lovely natural shade garden, whose meandering paths offer a place to stop and appreciate the wonderfully fragrant air. I wish that you could smell the air, heavy with the scent of wisteria and lilac.
The house, originally built in 1905, was purchased in 1929 by Redmond Cross. His wife, Julia Newbold Cross, belonged to the Royal Horticultural Society and was also a president of the New York Horticultural Society. Along with noted landscape architect, Clarence Fowler, she made extensive improvements to the gardens. The house was remodeled in 1940, after the death of Mr. Cross.
The formal garden is surrounded by a stone wall, and divided into four quadrants paved with old bricks. Large terracotta jars adorn this English garden, surrounded by lavender and veronica. The air is heavy with the drone of bees.
The Cross Estate gardens are a project of the New Jersey Historical Garden Foundation in cooperation with the National Park Service. For more information, visit http://www.crossestategardens.org/.