Friday, July 6, 2007

Hidden Gardens, Secret Gardens, Spooky Gardens

Overgrown with ivy. Shaded by trees that continued to reach for the sky. Smelling of old boxwoods and soil. Hints of a more civilized time peek out in the way of stone, marble, fountains, brick walls, gazebos. A hidden garden (heart racing!). This will be an ongoing theme in this blog - as it is an obsession of mine.

So let us begin. The secret garden fascination. The early years.

Not far from where I grew up, there was a place - the Muttontown Preserve. Mostly touted for hiking, it had an ace in its pocket. An estate with walled gardens - left behind to just become part of the woods that surrounded it. You had to hike in to see it. And I did. Often.

This wasn't just any old estate. Knollwood was a true Long Island Gold Coast behemoth. A 60-room castle by some accounts. Built to flaunt and exhibit all the grand wealth of the time. It was originally built for Wall Street tycoon Charles Hudson around 1907 and then bought by King Zog of Albania. Demolished in the 1950s - its remnants were left to crumble and be reabsorbed by the earth around it. And the effect of that overgrowth is forever etched into my mind.

On a shopping trip with my mom a little while back, we ran across garden pieces that were created to look aged and mossy. I'm kicking myself for not buying them. I haven't been able to really find anything similar since, except this piece - aptly called a Garden Relic.

Freshly uncovered from some long-forgotten estate ruins. Or so I would like to think.

The top two photos are from a site - Long Island's Gold Coast. There are more photos of Knollwood at the Long Island Oddities website.


Lonnie said...

I love places like that too, and the smell of boxwoods.

Ever read H.P. Lovecraft? He always seemed to feature some crumbling New England town harboring a secret cult of some kind that might worship an eldrich horror like Cthulhu. Sound like your estate would be perfect for such a story!

You know... one way to fake old age is to use a moss milkshake of buttermilk blended with clumps of moss (use several kinds for best results). Paint this substance on pots, statues, your yard or what ever. Keep moist and watch the magic happen! said...

Ah! Me, too!
If I ever own my own yard and 'grow' a garden it will be deliberately overrun with wild, creeping growth over ancient, stone ruins.

I think this influence comes from reading 'The Secret Garden' as a girl.

Thank you for sharing this post, I really enjoyed reading the links.
Especially, "the stair to nowhere"!

Steph said...

Oh, I love old ruins. There is an old estate ruin in Cold Spring, NY that you can hike through. It was our favorite hiking loop when we lived in Dobbs Ferry. So fun to walk through and try to imagine it as it was.

Tracey said...

Love hearing that this struck a chord with you guys!