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.