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Jullien, Francois; translated by Sophie Hawkes


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Innisfree Garden
URL:Goto this web site  http://www.innisfreegarden.com/ 
Name:Innisfree Garden 

Alternate Name: 
Address:Tyrrel Road 
Mailing Address:RR2 Box 38A
Millbrook, NY 12545-9608 
State:New York 
Postal Code:12545 
Latitude/Longitude:lat=41.76082; long=-73.75473
Find Gardens Nearby
Weather:current weather 
Designer(s):Walter Beck and Lester Collins 
Contruction Date:1930, 1952 
Hours:May 1 - October 20, weekends 11-5 and legal holidays, Wednesday-Friday 10-4; closed Monday and Tuesday except legal holidays. 
Admission:Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, $3 per person 6 years of age and older. Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, $4 per person 6 years of age and older 
Added to JGarden:1/1/1997 
Last Updated:8/17/2001 
JGarden Description:Set on 200 acres in Millbrook, New York, 90 miles north of New York City just off the Taconic Parkway, Innisfree was the private preserve of Walter and Marion Beck from 1929 to 1960. It is now run by a private foundation. The garden is a fascinating combination of Chinese, Japanese and American influences.

Innisfree is a melange of influences. The name is Gaelic. Its design is a mix of Asian, Egyptian and Roman. It was created by a Quaker.

Inspired by Yeats lyric, Innisfree was established in 1930 as the private garden of Walter Beck and his wife, Marion, heiress to a Minnesota mining fortune. The Becks took the name for the garden from the William Butler Yeats poem beginning, "I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree."

Innisfree Garden comprises a 180-acre basin of 'naturalized' gardens and woodland surrounding a picturesque lake. Walter Beck, the garden's creator, was a student of Asian art. Inspired by the scroll paintings of eighth-century Chinese poet and painter Wang Wei's garden, beginning in 1930 he worked for 22 years staking out streams, walkways and plantings. The terraces, retaining walls, sculptural groupings of natural rock, waterfalls and planned vistas of the lake were organized to keep elements 'in tension,' or 'in motion.'" Beck's design organized the garden into several separate, self-contained landscapes.

After Beck's death, Collins continued the work on the garden. Following the practical directives of the Sakuteiki (also known as the Sensai Hisho or Secret Garden Book) Collins incorporated Beck's individual gardens into a larger design that allows the visitor to move gracefully from one scene to the next. By the time he died in 1993, he had doubled the size of an already vast and elaborate private garden that required the services of 20 full-time gardeners, while converting it into a public garden that could be maintained by a staff of five. While this garden was inspired by Asian art, it has a distinctly North American character. The plants are entirely native and the stone was taken from the surrounding forest.

The Garden was given to the Innisfree Foundation in 1959. In 1960, Innnisfree was opened to the public, as provided for by the Beck's will. The site is now managed by Petronella Collins, president of the Innisfree Foundation. Collins is the widow of Lester Collins, the landscape architect who principally designed the gardens and worked there for 40 years. Other members of the board of trustees include Spencer Davidson, E. Peter Krulewitch, George S. Wislocki, William Metcalfe, Jr. and Oliver Collins.

Directions: on Tyrrel Rd. 1 mile from Rt. 44; 2 1/2miles from South Millbrook on Rt. 44, turn left on Tyrrel Rd.; 1 3/4 miles from Taconic Pkwy. overpass on Rt. 44, turn right on Tyrrel Rd.

For further reference:
Collins, Lester. Innisfree: An American Garden. Timber Press, 1983.


When I look at your island
Where the love bird dwells
I see today also
The andromeda blooming.

Oshi no sumu
Kimi ga kono shima
Kyô mireba
Ashibi no hana mo
Saki ni keru kamo.

  Mikata no Ohogimi
  Manyôshuû, vol. 20, no. 5411
  trans. by M.V. Otake

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2020 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
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