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Longevity in the Rose Garden—The Bloom Is Still on the Rose

 

November 12, 2020

GC of Irvington-on-Hudson Preserves an Historic Rose Garden

How many projects start with great expectations, but over time become lackluster? Not so with the Garden Club of Irvington-on-Hudson (GCI) and its perennial care of the rose garden at Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, New York. In 1968, GCI members brought new life to the deteriorating rose garden that had once flourished in the early 1900’s. Fifty-two years later the club’s meticulous care has not waned.

Alexander Jackson Davis designed and built Lyndhurst Mansion, one of America’s finest gothic revival castles, in 1838. In the early 1900’s, Helen Gould Shepherd, daughter of Jay Gould, the railroad magnate and financier, and fourth owner of Lyndhurst, added a rose garden focused primarily on pink climbing roses. After Helen’s death in 1938, the greenhouse and the rose garden began to decline. 

The estate passed to Helen’s sister Ann, the Duchess of Talleyrand-Perigord, and in 1961, upon her death, the 67-acre property was bequeathed  to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Sadly, very few of the roses remained. Plans by the Trust to bulldoze the rose garden were put to a stop by a group of intrepid GCI members. Restoration of the garden began in the fall of 1968.

The club’s plan was not to replicate Helen’s original garden, but rather to create an educational garden for the community. Today, the garden contains 500 varieties of roses, set in three concentric rings, joined by trellises covered in climbing roses. A fence installed around the perimeter of the garden has provided protection from deer.  Club members plant, weed, prune, fertilize, and care for the wide variety of roses. Each year, the public is invited to a rose pruning demonstration in late March, and to Rose Day in June, where club members teach budding rosarians the art and science of growing and maintaining roses. This is one project where the bloom is still on the rose.

The GCA recognized the Garden Club of Irvington-on-Hudson with a Zone Civic Improvement Award in 1985, and with the Jane Righter Rose Medal in 1996.

 

 

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